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The Authentic Caribbean

Published: Aug 22, 2011
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It doesn’t get any more real than Cuba. An intoxicating blend of culture, cuisine, history, adventure, wildlife, nightlife and, of course, stunning beaches on crystal waters, the country is the place for an authentic Caribbean experience.

Take the cuisine. Time-honoured recipes have created a mouth-watering array of national dishes that reflect Spanish, African and indigenous influences, and include lechón (roast pork), fried green plantains (tachinos, chatinos or tostones), black beans, congrí (rice with red beans), moros y cristianos (rice with black beans), picadillo a la habanera (ground beef in tomato sauce), roast chicken and tamales, as well as ajiaco, a stew of assorted root vegetables cooked with pork, poultry or beef that is the national dish.

Don’t forget the cocktails. Cuba’s famous cocktails – the mojito, Cuba libre and the daiquiri – are based on Cuba’s famous rums. White rum is best for mixing, while gold and aged rums are better for sipping.

History is alive in the architecture and traditions of colonial cities like Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Baracoa, Camaguey, Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo and Remedios, one of Cuba’s oldest settlements.

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And then there is Havana, an amazing place for fine dining at paladares, dancing at local nightclubs, hot bar-hopping along the Calle Obispo, high culture at an array of galleries, museums and performing arts venues and some of the friendliest folks in the Caribbean. Cruise the city in vintage cabs, take a city tour, stroll along the malecon; there is always something to see and someone to meet.

Out in the countryside, Cuba is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. In fact, four per cent of the world’s land species live here. including three of the smallest: the pygmy frog, the bee hummingbird and the butterfly bat. There are magnificent parks to hike, bike and ride through, several of which are protected as bio-reserves. Explore the remains of coffee plantations, or indigenous camp sites.

Water adventures are endless, and diving is amazing in these waters. Unmatched visibility, diversity and sites attract people from all over the world. Many resorts offer lessons and certification. On the waves, sailing, windsurfing and para-sailing get the blood pumping. For a more tranquil experience, there are kayaks, paddleboats and a quick dip in the sea.

It’s all here in the real Cuba, the authentic Caribbean.

World Heritage Sites In Cuba
• The Historic Centre of Old Havana and its System of Colonial Fortifications (1982)
• Trinidad and the Valle de los Ingenios (1988)
• San Pedro de la Roca (1997)
• Desenbarco del Granma National Park (1999)
• Archaeological Landscape of the first coffee plantations on the southeast of Cuba (2000)
• La Tumba Francesa, declared a masterpiece of the World Cultural Heritage (2000)
• Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (2001)
• Historic Centre of Cienfuegos (2005)
• Historic Centre of Camaguey (2008)

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