On the first day of the kids’ school summer holidays 2018, we flew to Cuba with our two kids, ages 6 and 8. Up until the flight we were afraid how the children will survive the 17 hours journey from Europe and the culture shock of arriving in a country with different infrastructure, language, and climate. But after we had been in Cuba for two weeks, our children were crying when we boarded the taxi from Havana Vieja to Havana Airport. They were asking, when shall we return… All in all, our family trip to Cuba was an unforgettable positive experience.
Our family trip to Cuba in 2018 was planned especially for kids’ satisfaction. In all the cities we stayed in we visited children-friendly facilities that Cuba can offer.
Is Cuba safe?
Despite the horrifying news, there is no hurricane damage, the sea is azure and beaches are sandy white. Cuba is in a lucky geographical position and the storms pass it from a close distance. Cuba is safe.
There is practically no street criminal activities, no dangerous animals live in Cuba and you can catch a smile of the friendly police hanging with the locals on every corner in bigger towns.
Local people are generally nice to children and many of the local children would approach your kids to play or show them an interesting animal or a fun trick.
Cozy streets of Old Havana
Old Havana (Havana Vieja in Spanish) is a living city museum. There are thousands of old colonial houses, cats sleeping on the doormats, tropical plants hanging from the walls and windows, interesting sweet scents, traditional Cuban music, street art and many harmless but curiously looking people on streets. The kids will explore the city with great amusement.
If your children do not like the Cuban food, you can always find a pizzeria or get a snack, a hamburger or french fries from one of the bistros. There are also street sellers of Spanish doughnuts and ice cream.
American classic cars
You can get a cheap taxi ride with a beautiful American car from the 1950s. One ride will be enough since from the inside the cars are oldish and they lack seat belts. Luckily the Cuban drivers are careful and drive slow.
The children will be amazed at the exterior and interior of the car. But the fact is that a long ride would not be very comfortable for them. For rides longer than an hour better take a taxi or rent a car.
The Nacional Aquarium is located in the western part of Havana. The taxi ride is about 15 USD and the aquarium ticket will cost you around 7 USD (adult) or 5 USD (children). Havana Aquarium offers great fun for children, especially if you visit one of the shows. When tired, your family will be able to visit the local restaurant or snack bar.
For kids, it’s always an adventure to go to the ZOO. In Havana ZOO there is the classic bunch of animals like lions, tigers, elephants, hippos, zebras, and giraffes. But the ZOO of Havana is a lot different than the ZOOs you might have visited. For starters, there is the safari bus which takes you around the open space similar to the wildlife. The kids will explore the rest of the ZOO tour with astonishment.
To get you around Cuba there are 3 ways that will be comfortable for your family:
- Bus. The bus is the cheapest method to travel around Cuba. The check-in time is usually 45 minutes before departure. You can bring your bags with you and the bus driver will put it into the luggage compartment. When you consider traveling by bus, also compare the cost of taking a taxi. For the family of 4, our calculation was many times in favor of a taxi ride.
- Taxi. The optimal way to travel to an exact destination address. For one day trips, the taxi can also wait for you at a certain time to drive you back.
- Rent-a-car. If you wish to travel independently you can rent a car of a newer production year. The roads in Cuba are usually good and there will never be a parking problem.
Children-friendly beaches in Cuba
In Cuba, nice sandy beaches are not crowded like in the rest of the world. There are enough family-friendly facilities like snack bars, restaurants, shops, taxis, bus stations, and shops. The best beaches have all the needed infrastructure and they are public.
We were recommended by our Cuban friends to visit these superb beaches and we recommend them further to you:
- Playas de Este. When you’re in Havana you can take a 30-minute taxi ride to the city’s eastern beaches.
- Playa Ancon: 20-minute taxi ride from Trinidad.
- Playa Rancho Luna: 25-minute taxi ride from Cienfuegos
- Varadero beach: in walking distance from your hotel or casa particular.
- El Nicho national park. It’s not exactly a beach, but you and the kids can take a swim in refreshing natural pools in the middle of the rainforest, and explore caves!
The hotels normally do not fence their access to the sea, so you can take endless strolls along the shore. You will not need salt-water sandals to go into the water, since the sea bottom is sandy, with no urchins. The Caribbean sea temperature is warm and the kids will love it. Do not forget to take swimming goggles for the kids with you!
Staying at a “casa particular” with kids
When you decide to stay at a casa particular instead of a hotel, the hosts will be very friendly to your kids. They will welcome children with great respect and dedication.
The master of the house will also ask you if you need anything special for the kids or what kind of food would your children like to eat for breakfast.
A night in a casa particular for a family of 2 adults and 2 children will cost you from 25 CUC to 35 CUC (1 CUC = 1 USD). Casa particular is an inexpensive alternative to a hotel accommodation and it lets you discover real friendliness of Cuban people. They will be generous hosts.
Colonial Carriage Rides around Trinidad
The coach ride around Trinidad is an easy going experience with many stops like seeing old trains, pottery and a viewpoint of their rainforest valley. It goes along the streets of old and the new Trinidad, so you can feel the difference. On the way, you can spot many interesting sights and see how the local people live their everyday life.
Swimming with dolphins
The dolphins are extremely nice and playful animals. We chose to take a swim with them at the dolphinarium of Varadero. First, you see a show and then your whole family takes a swim with them. Even your little non-swimmers are allowed since every participant receives appropriately sized lifejacket. But better start saving, because the price is 280 CUC for a family of four. There will be an official photographer that will take photos so add 35 CUC for the video of your adventure, plus at least 5 CUC for a photo. There’s a sign that photographing by yourself is not allowed, but they tolerate waterproof cameras.
It is nice to see that there is a special bond between the trainers and the dolphins. And you can feel that the dolphins enjoy the human company and feel great in the dolphinarium resort.