ABOUT Cuba, the largest of the Antilles islands and the epitome of Caribbean lifestyle. Not only endless, white sandy beaches, hot Rumba rhythms and the legendary Mojito await you on the island in the Gulf of Mexico, but also the colonial cities of Havana and Santiago de Cuba, a fleet of oldtimers in all the colours of the rainbow and the unbeatable warm-heartedness of the island's inhabitants that make it the true "Queen of the Antilles". The view of Havana's imposing colonial buildings from the 16th and 17th century, that are currently being restored with UNESCO help. Before the Communist revolution, Havana was one of the vacation hot-spots of the Caribbean, and since Cuba reopened to tourism in the 1990s, it has become a popular destination once again. Cuba’s El Malecon is the heart and soul of Havana. No other setting attracts more tourists and locals alike. This sea boardwalk curls about four miles along the northwest rim of Cuba’s border from the entrance of the Bay of Havana. It symbolizes the island’s unique and seductive luster with its beauty and history. Throughout its existence, there have been countless literary immortalizations from Ernest Hemingway to Graham Greene to Gabriel Garcia Marquez. For many, the Malecon is considered the true rhythm of Havana, a reflection of its inhabitant's life, loves, games, happiness, enjoyment, sadness, and meetings. Summer is one of the most festive times of the year with carnival being held in many cities, and festivals on throughout the island. This is also holiday time for the Cubans so there are many social occasions. Summer is also a tourist high season because it coincides with the holiday season in Europe. Hotels, flights, and tours can often be booked out well ahead of time, and prices can be higher than during other times of the year.
CLIMATE The summer in Cuba is from June to August. These are the hottest months and some people including Cubans, find the heat quite intense. Temperatures rise to 38 Celcius on the Eastern side of the island, which when coupled with high humidity, can be quite unpleasant. The hurricane season is from July to November with September and October being the months with the highest probability of cyclone activity. There is on average more rain in these months due to this tropical storm activity. The rest of the year in Cuba generally enjoys beautiful warm weather. December, January, and February are the coolest months of the year in Cuba where the average maximum daily temperature is 25C, and an average of 18C at night. During these winter months in Cuba, occasional cold fronts can make their way down from North America, during which, for a period of a couple of days, temperatures at night can drop to around 10C in some places. Rain may or may not accompany these cold fronts. There is more rainfall during the summer months and during the hurricane season. Even in these months the rain usually comes in short afternoon bursts, which can be a pleasant relief from the heat.
BEWARE Crime is on the increase. Theft from luggage during baggage handling, both on arrival and departure, is common. Remove all valuables, lock suitcases and consider having them shrink-wrapped before check-in. Take precautions if you are in Central Havana at night. Take a taxi to your accommodation rather than walk, even if your accommodation is only a few blocks away. There are a small number of bogus tour agents/taxis operating at the airports and around Old Havana. Do not travel with anyone other than your recognised tour operator. If you need to take a taxi, ensure it is a registered one and not a private vehicle. Car-related crime and mugging incidents are increasing, not only in Havana but also in Santiago and other areas less frequented by tourists. There have been attacks on foreigners using hire cars after staged punctures and by bogus hitch-hikers. Do not pick people up; if you get a puncture in a lonely spot, drive on to a town before stopping. Beware of pickpockets and bag-snatchers, especially in Old Havana, on buses and trains, at major tourist sites and in nightclubs. Don’t carry large amounts of cash when away from your hotel; avoid wearing ostentatious or expensive jewellery; leave travellers' cheques, credit cards, passports and other important documents in a safe deposit or similar at your hotel. Carry a copy of your passport and lock the original away with other valuables. Beware of thefts from rooms, particularly in private guest houses (‘casas particulares’). Hi-tech items of value (e.g. iphone, ipod, ipad, laptops etc) are highly sought after in Cuba and are particularly attractive to thieves.