Airbnb Experiences are the best way to get to know Cuba. I used these unique and authentic tours to visit organic farms, learn how cigars are made, and go snorkeling with locals. For the guides, Airbnb Experiences are their main source of income and, for travelers, these â€œexperiencesâ€ are going to be the highlight of your trip to Cuba!
Note: I am NOT an affiliate for Airbnb Experiences.Â I do,Â however, have an affiliate link for Airbnb accommodations. If you have never created an account with Airbnb before, click here to receive $40 off your first stay. I will earn a $20 Airbnb credit! Thank you for making my next adventure possible!
Before our first Airbnb Experience, we felt really unsure what to expect. It didnâ€™t help that we had been without internet
Jorge introduced us to his father-in-law, a former farmer. He knew no English and we only knew a little Spanish so we talked using basic Spanish we did know but relied on Jorge for translation. Together, we enjoyed traditional Cuban coffee (a godsend since we had been up since early that morning). We then headed to the neighborâ€™s farm for a tour.
We rode through the woods on horseback before having a late lunch back with Jorgeâ€™s family. Almost all of the food was grown right there and Jorgeâ€™s mother-in-law was an excellent cook. We drank rum, learned to play dominos, and had the opportunity to smoke a cigar. Thatâ€™s what made the tour greatâ€”it was all the integral Cuban experiences wrapped up into one full-day tour.
If you have only a few days in Cuba and are not sure youâ€™ll have time to make it far outside of Havana, this is the Airbnb Experience for you. After the tour, youâ€™ll be able to rest easy knowing that you got to see and do all of the most important things the Cuban countryside has to offer.
Our tobacco production-themed Airbnb Experience was the highlight of our entire 10-day trip to Cuba. This was another one-on-one tour where it was just us and the guide instead of a group.
We were surprised at how many sites we got to visit during the tour. With our guide, we walked just a little outside the center of ViÃ±ales to a coffee farmerâ€™s house. We sampled their own homegrown and roasted coffee, prepared Cuban style with an Italian coffee maker and poured into tiny cups. The family was warm and welcoming, clearly used to having tours stop through. They encouraged me to take photos of anything I wanted, â€œeven the bathroom.â€
Then we stopped at a nearby tobacco farm. We traveled to Cuba in November so, unfortunately, the plants in the fields were just seedlings at the time. We were, however, able to learn everything about the drying, curing, and cigar-rolling process from the farmer. Our guide translated everything. We had the opportunity to roll our own cigars. I passed, asking the farmer to roll one for me. Ethan, however, was brave and rolled one himself with only his small knowledge of Spanish and the farmerâ€™s entirely Spanish dialogue to guide him. He made me proud.
The highlight of the tour, for me, was visiting a cigar factory. It wasnâ€™t the mechanized type of factory that first comes to mind, but a large warehouse and room full of women at little desks sorting leaves by hand. I never imagined that I would be allowed in this kind of space, especially not in Cuba. Photography was a little more restricted there, but I was able to take a few. I wanted to remember this place.
The Tobacco Origins Airbnb Experience was both the cheapest and most comprehensive of the three Airbnb tours we tried. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone visiting ViÃ±ales, whether they are a cigar connoisseur or not. This is absolutely a canâ€™t miss experience. If you do one thing in ViÃ±ales, it shouldnâ€™t be the Mural de la Prehistoria or cave tours or horseback riding. Itâ€™s a tobacco tour, hands-down.
This was another Airbnb Experience day trip outside of Havana. We started with a 40-minute taxi ride to CanasÃ, a beautiful and not so populated town in Cuba. There, we drove to the mouth of the CanasÃ River, wedged between beautiful rock formations.
You definitely shouldnâ€™t do this tour unless youâ€™re prepared to get physical. First, we stripped down to our swimsuits and wade across the river. A local helped us put our backpacks on a floating styrofoam raft. They had clearly used this method before. We waded our way across, slowly. The water was a mix of river water and salt, as we were nearing the ocean.
As soon as we reached the other side, we needed to climb up a steep 15-foot cliff. Of course, it had handholds so you definitely donâ€™t need to be a rock climber to go on this tour. Still, it created a challenge, especially because my Chacos were slippery from the water. My biggest criticism of this tour? The description of the tour hadnâ€™t warned us. If either of us had an injury or disability, we wouldnâ€™t have known until arriving in CanasÃ.
Regardless, the view at the top was beautiful. Already, we reached our first photo stop and therefore had a good amount of time to regroup and recuperate before moving on.
We hiked through the woods for a long time. Our guide pointed out the local flora and fauna: royal palms, termite mounds, cacti, and my GoPro so he could capture me diving in. Even as a kid, I hated the high-dive at the pool and, there in CanasÃ, my stomach flipped mid-air in the same familiar way. Iâ€™m not a particularly strong swimmer, so I was glad to find that the high salinity made floating easy.
From there, the tour essentially became individual exploration. We passed around the goggles and flippersâ€”there werenâ€™t enough for everyoneâ€”and looked at the fish and coral below. Ethan completely forgot to bring his contacts on vacation and couldnâ€™t see a thing even with the goggles, so we were sure to capture lots on my GoPro.
Pro tip: If youâ€™re a glasses wearer, remember to bring contacts or prescription goggles along if youâ€™re even considering snorkeling!
After lunch, we migrated to a beach. Again, members of the group took turns swimming out to see the most impressive corals with the goggles. There were no lifejackets and Iâ€™m not the best swimmer, so while I took a turn looking at coral, I was more interested in the white coral fossils on the beach.
The group hiked back to the CanasÃ River, waded back across with the styrofoam raft, and got back to the taxis just as it was starting to rain.
I stayed in Airbnb accommodations in Cuba too! Check out the Airbnbs I visited.
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