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Kayaking in Cuba

Active

Kayaking in Cuba

  • Duration 8 days
  • Activity level Moderate
  • Includedaccomodation accomodation meals staff

Get a fresh perspective and see Cuba from the water

From £1,399.00 / per person
  • Day 1
    Day 1

    Arrival in Havana

    Welcome to Cuba! You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your accommodation for the night. Tonight is at leisure for you to relax…

    • Casa Particular, Havana
  • Day 2
    Day 2

    Havana City Tour

    After breakfast in our casas and an introductory meeting with our Cuban tour leader, we start the day with an interesting visit to Fundación Antonio…

    • Casa Particular, Playa Larga
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 3
    Day 3

    Kayaking in Bay of Pigs

    This morning we’ll go on our first kayaking expedition, exploring the distinctive mangroves of the Zapata Peninsula coastline along the western side of the famous…

    • 4.5 km (5 hrs activity time)
    • Casa particular, Cienfuegos
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 4
    Day 4

    Kayaking in Bay of Cienfuegos

    In the morning we’ll transfer to the mouth of the bay and to a scenic start point for today’s kayaking route which is called ‘La…

    • 3.5 km (4 hrs activity time)
    • Hotel Hanabanilla, Hanabanilla
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 5
    Day 5

    Kayaking on Lake Hanabanilla

    Today we are on fresh water for the first time as we launch our kayaks onto Lake Hanabanilla and paddle towards the amazing waterfall known…

    • 4.5 km (5 hrs + 1 hr sunset paddle)
    • Hotel Guajimico
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 6
    Day 6

    Kayaking on the Caribbean Sea

    This morning we take to the Caribbean waters again and paddle to an isolated beach with rocky cliffs on both sides. Here we’ll enjoy some…

    • 3.5 km (4 hrs activity time)
    • Casa Particular, Trinidad
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 7
    Day 7

    Kayaking River Guaurabo

    After breakfast at our casas we’ll take a short transfer to the outskirts of Trinidad town and the start point of today’s kayaking expedition. We’ll…

    • 3.5 km (4 hrs activity time)
    • Casa particular, Havana
    • Breakfast, lunch, dinner
  • Day 8
    Day 8

    Departure Day

    Our tour ends today as we say goodbye to Havana. Check out of casas and enjoy the morning at leisure – you’ll be able to…

    • Breakfast
  • ?
    FAQ
    Ask us

    FAQ

  • Day 1

    Day 1: Arrival in Havana

  • Day 2

    Day 2: Havana City Tour

  • Day 3

    Day 3: Kayaking in Bay of Pigs

  • Day 4

    Day 4: Kayaking in Bay of Cienfuegos

  • Day 5

    Day 5: Kayaking on Lake Hanabanilla

  • Day 6

    Day 6: Kayaking on the Caribbean Sea

  • Day 7

    Day 7: Kayaking River Guaurabo

  • Day 8

    Day 8: Departure Day

Ask us

FAQ

What is included?

  • Transfers from airport upon arrival and departure
  • Transfer of luggage throughout but not hotel porterage
  • Kayaking equipment (kayak, paddle, personal flotation device dry bag)
  • Accommodation:   2 nights in hotel, 5 nights in casas particulares on B&B basis
  • Meals:  all breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners.  Lunches will be in restaurants or picnics depending on the day
  • 5 kayaking trips; entrances to Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez, Guama crocodile breeding farm, Girón Museum and Che Guevara’s Mausoleum; entrance fees to the Zapata de Cienaga and Topes de Collantes national parks.
  • Staff:  Cuban English-speaking tour guide to accompany group throughout, qualified local kayaking guide, driver. 
  • Transport: all transport in comfortable, safe airconditioned vehicles
  • Mineral water included on all active days

What is not included?

  • Flights to and from Cuba
  • Travel / medical Insurance (compulsory to provide proof of cover for entry into Cuba)
  • Personal expenses (drinks, laundry, phone calls etc)
  • Vaccinations
  • Visas (Tourist Cards)
  • Tips for guide, driver and local staff.  We recommend that each participant contributes a minimum of CUC 25 – CUC 30 to be shared between the local staff.

Is this tour right for me?

  • Group Size 2 – 20 people of mixed nationalities and fitness levels. Minimum age 12 years (accompanied by an adult).
  • No previous kayaking experience necessary but you should be a confident swimmer.
  • You enjoy exercising, being active and have a reasonable level of fitness.   
  • Busy days with a variety of activities to include 5 kayak trips (4-5 hours each), travel and exposure to Cuban culture.  Hot and humid conditions, especially during summer months.

Kayaking

  • No. of days kayaking:  5
  • Length of trips:  4-5 hours to include 2-4 hours of paddling (3.5 km – 4.5 km)
  • Trips on sheltered waters (bays and lake), a river and open sea.
  • Kayaks:  polymer Necky sea kayaks (Looksha T and Looksha 17) and RTM sea kayaks (Speedo y Expresso).
  • Choice of single or double kayak subject to availability – let us know pre-travel
  • Local qualified and certified kayaking guide
  • Introduction to paddling and practice opportunities for those new to the sport
  • Participants must be confident swimmers
  • Personal flotation devices provided and compulsory
  • All activities are weather dependent and can be cancelled or altered depending on decisions of guides. Client safety will be prioritised at all times. 

Essential packing list

  • Bring appropriate clothing and footwear for water-based activities
  • High factor sun cream (50+), sunglasses and cap or sun hat (wide brimmed best)
  • Trainers with a good tread for the short walking trails in the Topes de Collante
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Insect repellent – tropical strength
  • Long sleeved shirts and light trousers for the evenings
  • A sense of humour and patience are useful in Cuba!

Optional items

  • Most people bring a small back pack which they keep on the bus for easy access during the day. Typically they will carry a spare T shirt, their valuables, snacks and a camera.
  • You may want to bring a UVA top or T shirt.
  • Kayaking gloves
  • Mask and snorkel if you would like to take the opportunity to snorkel over a coral reef on Day 6
  • Torch

Throughout the tour we stay in a range of accommodation typical to any trip to Cuba, with a mixture of hotels and private accommodation (Casas particulares). It’s fair to say that the standard of Cuban accommodation is not always comparable to that which you would expect in other countries owing to years of isolation, under-investment in the country’s infrastructure and effect of the US trade Embargo. Anyone travelling to the island should be prepared to rough it a bit at times! Décor tends to be a little dated, there might be the occasional power cut, and you may find that your water pressure isn’t all it could be. Fortunately, it´s warm enough most days that the lack of hot water is not a major problem!

The two hotels we stay in are basic 3 star with en suite bathrooms and air conditioning. The hotel in Hanabanilla is a Soviet style building, and the one in Guajimico has bungalows set in gardens. We use Casas Particulares in Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos. Most people love the opportunity this gives to stay in a relatively normal Cuban home and see how Cubans live. These homes are simple compared to ours but the welcome is warm and rooms clean. All the casas also have air conditioning an en suite bathrooms. You’ll be spoilt at breakfast in the mornings.

Cuba doesn’t have the same variety of international cuisine we might be used to although in recent years lots of privately run restaurants (“paladars”) have opened (particularly in Havana) offering a wider choice and better quality food than the government run establishments. Think soul food – rice, black beans, slow roast pork and chicken, fresh fish, lobster and plenty of tropical fruit.

For those with special dietary requirements, be prepared for a very limited menu while you are in Cuba. There are very few vegetarians and vegans in Cuba so there are sometimes misperceptions as to what you can eat. Vegetarians often bring snacks and spreads to liven up their meals.

It can also be difficult to find a decent sandwich in Cuba so please don’t give your guide a hard time if he recommends a proper sit-down meal for lunch! Cubans generally eat two full meals a day and don’t have many places that cater for snack lunches yet, so the sandwiches tend to be pretty basic.

Cuba is the land of the Mojito, Daiquiri and Cuba Libre. You’ll find that plenty of rum-based drinks all over the country with prices ranging from 2-6 CUC for most cocktails. But beware, they don’t use measuring glasses, so they might be stronger than the ones you have tried at home!

All our guides at Cubania are Cuban nationals who are registered with and trained by Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism. They come from all kinds of different personal and professional backgrounds. They’ve been teachers, I.T. professionals, bakers, vets, army officers and even underwear salesmen! What they have in common is that they are all highly educated graduates who are passionate about guiding and proud of their beautiful country. They all speak excellent English and receive annual training in first aid.

The kayaking guides are all trained and certified. Depending on the size of the group there will either be 1 or 2 kayaking guides to assist, inform, and lead the way so you get the most out of your adventure.

Day 1: Arrival in Havana

  • Casa Particular, Havana

Welcome to Cuba! You’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your accommodation for the night. Tonight is at leisure for you to relax into your exciting new surroundings. Your guide will be able to recommend nearby restaurants and bars for this evening.

Day 2: Havana City Tour

  • Casa Particular, Playa Larga
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast in our casas and an introductory meeting with our Cuban tour leader, we start the day with an interesting visit to Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez to learn about Cuban nature and the conservation of biodiversity on the island. Afterwards we’ll take a walking tour of Old Havana, seeing some of the main sights that make this historical capital a fascinating and unique destination to visit. We’ll have lunch in a private ‘paladar’ restaurant in the Old Town.

Departing Havana, we drive south eastwards (approx. 2.5 hours) into Matanzas Province and to the lowlands of the Zapata Peninsula. Upon arrival in the laid back coastal town of Playa Larga we’ll check in to our ‘casa particular’ private homestay located just one block from the scenic beach. We will also meet our kayak instructor and have dinner together, and no doubt enjoy the sunset whilst having a drink on the roof-top terrace.

Day 3: Kayaking in Bay of Pigs

  • 4.5 km (5 hrs activity time)
  • Casa particular, Cienfuegos
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning we’ll go on our first kayaking expedition, exploring the distinctive mangroves of the Zapata Peninsula coastline along the western side of the famous ‘Bay of Pigs’. This region is a flourishing natural habit for all kinds of bird species (such as flamingos and bee hummingbirds) as well as crocodiles and iguanas. We’ll see sandy beaches, rocky islands, and forests of mangroves today and learn all about the nature and history of this part of Cuba. After eating a packed lunch in the area, we’ll then return to Playa Larga in our vehicle and continue onwards along the southern coastline to the beautiful city of Cienfuegos (approx. 1.5 hours). Along the route we’ll make a short stop at the museum in Playa Girón which explains events surrounding the CIA-backed ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion of Castro’s Cuba in April 1961. Upon arrival in Cienfuegos we’ll take an orientation tour of the main plaza and Malecon coastal road, check in to our casas, and go out for dinner in a local paladar restaurant.

Day 4: Kayaking in Bay of Cienfuegos

  • 3.5 km (4 hrs activity time)
  • Hotel Hanabanilla, Hanabanilla
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

In the morning we’ll transfer to the mouth of the bay and to a scenic start point for today’s kayaking route which is called ‘La Milpa’. Crossing the entrance of the bay we’ll disembark on the other side to visit the strategically placed fortress ‘Castillo de Jagua’ protecting the shipping channel into Cienfuegos. Back on our kayaks we’ll continue on towards our lunchtime destination ‘Rancho Cristal’ passing several small fishing communities along the way. After enjoying lunch with a view over the bay, we’ll take to the road and head inland towards the looming Escambray mountain range. Our destination is Hanabanilla, a Soviet style hotel wonderfully located in the mountains next to a lake and surrounded by a lush green forest habitat. Hotel facilities and food are basic as per most state-run hotels in Cuba, however we believe that the location more than makes up for this. Dinner will be in a paladar restaurant in the nearby community.

Day 5: Kayaking on Lake Hanabanilla

  • 4.5 km (5 hrs + 1 hr sunset paddle)
  • Hotel Guajimico
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Today we are on fresh water for the first time as we launch our kayaks onto Lake Hanabanilla and paddle towards the amazing waterfall known as ‘Cascada Los Helechos’. Here we’ll stop to walk along a short hiking trail and either have a swim in the waterfall’s cold and clear waters or simply take a moment to enjoy this fantastic spot. We launch our kayaks again in the direction of ‘Río Negro’, another beautiful place located half way down the lake. Here we’ll have another opportunity to walk up to a lookout point offering magnificent views. Lunch will be at the Río Negro Restaurant and afterwards we’ll paddle gently across the lake enjoying the surrounding scenery before arriving back at the hotel. In the afternoon we transfer by road out of the mountains and back down to the south coast. Our destination for the night is Villa Guajimico. Once again, the hotel is not the highlight here, it is the beautiful natural habitat, tranquil surroundings, and marine opportunities that draw up to this location. In the early evening we can take our kayaks out once again onto the Caribbean Sea and see the sunset from the water.

Day 6: Kayaking on the Caribbean Sea

  • 3.5 km (4 hrs activity time)
  • Casa Particular, Trinidad
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

This morning we take to the Caribbean waters again and paddle to an isolated beach with rocky cliffs on both sides. Here we’ll enjoy some beach time and there will be an opportunity to snorkel at a section of coral reef. We return by kayak back along the coastline to Guajimico. From here we’ll drive along the coastal ride and stop for lunch in ‘La Vega’ community. Here there will be an optional activity for those who are comfortable on horseback – a 5 km trail down to a small cove and beach. Continuing onwards by road we arrive at one of Cuba’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the town of Trinidad. The small town’s picturesque cobbled streets and colourful buildings rightly attract visitors from all over the world, and there are plenty of cultural delights to explore in our time here. Our guide will give an orientation tour and include a visit to a traditional pottery making house and a vendor of the local rum and honey drink known as ‘Canchánchara’. After checking into our casas particulares we’ll go out for dinner in the evening and then on to a live music venue in the town.

Day 7: Kayaking River Guaurabo

  • 3.5 km (4 hrs activity time)
  • Casa particular, Havana
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast at our casas we’ll take a short transfer to the outskirts of Trinidad town and the start point of today’s kayaking expedition. We’ll be navigating ‘Rio Guaurabo’ winding our way down to the fishing port of ‘La Boca’ before reaching open sea and paddling up the Ancon peninsula to a beach called ‘Playa Maria Aguilar’. Here we’ll stop for a swim and rest before transferring to another nearby fishing town called Casilda where we’ll have lunch in a paladar restaurant. After lunch we have a fairly long drive back to Havana, stopping along the route to visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum in the outskirts of Santa Clara. Arriving in Havana we’ll check in to our casas particulares and then go out for our last dinner together. Enjoy your last night out in Havana!

Day 8: Departure Day

  • Breakfast

Our tour ends today as we say goodbye to Havana. Check out of casas and enjoy the morning at leisure – you’ll be able to store your luggage. Depending on your flight time, transfer to airport for departure flight. Should you wish to book extra nights in Havana or any extra services then contact Cubania in advance.

What's included?

Accommodation

2 nights in hotels, 5 nights in casas particulares

Gear

Kayaks (single/double), personal flotation devices, dry bag

Meals

All Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 6 Dinners

Staff

Cubania office 24 hour contact, English-Speaking Cuban tour guide, qualified kayaking guide, driver

What's not included: Flights, travel insurance, vaccinations, visas, gratuities

What to bring

1. Appropriate clothing

and footwear for water-based activities

2. Kayaking gloves

and snorkelling gear if you have them

3. Sun protection

high strength sunscreen, sunglasses, cap or sun hat (wide rimmed best)

4. Light clothing

Light cotton and linen clothing suitable for tropical climates.

Cubans dress casually but are always impeccably turned out. Avoid bringing expensive or flashy jewellery.

Is this tour for me?

Travel style: Kayaking

Discover Cuba from the water while immersing yourself in local culture.

Difficulty Level: Moderate

You are used to exercising regularly and enjoy being active.

Group style: Small

2 - 20 people, mixed nationalities. Minimum age 12 years (accompanied by an adult)

Notes:

No previous experience necessary but should be confident in water (able to swim) and have a reasonable level of fitness. Hot and humid conditions during summer months.

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