Cuba Food Adventure - Hidden Culinary Allure

Nature FPO.png

Take a step back in time and a step forward in cultural relations as you discover Cuba’s culture through its fantastic cuisine.

White Bird Icon

SPECIAL OFFER

Moderate.png

8.3*

ECO SCORE

10

PASSENGERS

8

DAYS

3/5

ACTIVITY LEVEL

Cuba: Drink It In

Connect with locals and immerse yourself in the Cuban food scene as you visit farms and markets, learn from local chefs, and dine at some of the island’s most renowned private restaurants, or paladares. This Cuba food adventure spends five action-packed days in vibrant Havana where you'll earn to salsa with talented dancers and enjoy a farm-to-table meal on an organic, sustainable farm. Plus, see famous Havana Vieja and Revolution Square. Then Venture far off the beaten path to the Viñales Valley, a serene and beautiful UNESCO Site famous for its tobacco plantations, and finally, visit colonial Trinidad, where the sounds of street music and clip-clopping horse carriages evoke centuries past.
 
Kenya & Tanzania.png

Travel Curator’s Insights:

    • Mojito class by master mixologist.
    • Connect with local fishermen and select fish to grill.
    • Nothing connects you better with locals than cooking and dining together. Don't miss this!

SPECIAL OFFER

Rates:
From $3,990 per person
Dates on hold until 2022. Contact us to pre-book. Policies and protocols provided before you book.

Year-round dates starting July, 2022 TBD
Ask us for more details.

Year-Round Dates Starting July 2-22
Ask us for more info

Departures:

Trip Sustainability Awards 

Carbon.png

CARBON

Fantastic advances in minimizing carbon footprints at locations.

Energy.png

ENERGY

On the East African Energy Renewal Board

Education.png

EDUCATION

Runs local educational facilities for children.

1/10

Itinerary 

Day 1: Our Cuba Food Tour Begins When you Land in Havana

Welcome to Cuba! After you pass through immigration and customs, you will step outside into Havana’s tropical breeze, where a driver will be waiting for you. Climb into a vintage 1957 Chevy, your ride for the week and one of the highlights of our Cuban food tour, and head to your upscale guesthouse where you will check in and relax until dinner.

Tonight’s welcome dinner is at one of our favorite restaurants in Havana. Consistently ranked as one of the top paladares (privately owned restaurants) in Havana, this restaurant offers Cuban and other favorites for an excellent introduction to the culinary gems of Havana.

Accommodation: Casa Particular


Casa Particular In Cuba: We have scoured Havana to find the nicest casas particulares, or privately owned guest houses for our tours. While many casas rent simple rooms within the family home, the lodgings we use on this tour more closely resemble deluxe vacation rentals or even small boutique hotels. Some of the luxury Havana casas particulares we reserve are old colonial homes and others are mid-century villas with swimming pools. There are only a handful of rooms in each casa particular in Cuba, so the accommodations will vary based on trip dates and group size, but will always be the finest available.


All of the bedrooms in have en suite bathrooms, air conditioning, and are very clean and comfortable.

In the last 18 years, there has been a surge in the popularity of the casa particular in Cuba. We use these for our tours, rather than hotels, because they are an ideal way to be immersed in the culture and engage meaningfully with the local community. Due to the generosity and hospitality inherent in Cuban culture, the casas often have higher service levels than hotels. Also, the government controls Cuba hotel inventory, and hotel rooms of international standard are extremely limited. We feel that we can better manage the quality of your accommodations and the authenticity of your cultural experience by seeking the most upscale casa particular options in Cuba.


As with all travel in Cuba, your flexibility is appreciated. Despite our best planning, things might not work as expected in your Cuban casa particular, as it might not in a Cuban hotel. Power outages can occur, water pressure might not always be ideal, hot water might not be available sometimes, and if something breaks, your landlord simply may not be able to replace it in a timely manner due to shortages of most household items. We believe that these minor inconveniences are not just a small price to pay for an immersive experience into Cuban culture, but also an opportunity to get an authentic sense of what life is really like in Cuba.


Day 2: Art, Cocktails, and Dancing with Local Experts

This morning it’s time to get to know Havana and the Cuban people. Starting with a walking tour of Havana Vieja (Old Havana), we will explore the two of the four main squares: Plaza de la Catedral, dominated by the stunning 18th century Catedral de San Cristóbal & Plaza San Francisco de Asis, near Havana’s harbor. We will then head to a delicious lunch, including a fun mojito cocktail class at the paladar’s stunning bar! Bring your mojito along as we are invited into the kitchen for a cooking demonstration to learn the executive chef’s secrets to preparing traditional Cuban fare (think paella or ropa vieja) with a modern twist.


After lunch, we will wander through the street art gallery of muralist and painter Salvador Gonzales. Heavily influenced by the traditions of Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion, Salvador’s street art uses everything from bathtubs to car parts. We will peruse Salvador’s gallery and meet with the artist or curator who are happy to answer any questions about Santeria or the artist’s interesting work.


Next up is a salsa class at the home of Johan, one of our fabulous dance instructors. Whether or not you choose to dance, visiting his home will be an eye-opening experience. Climbing two stories on a rickety spiral staircase (the main staircase is continuously under repair), you will get a sense of how Cubans make do with the status quo, while maintaining their passion and optimism. Once upstairs, the dance troupe’s infectious smiles and joie de vivre will have you dancing in no time!


This evening, those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music can attend an optional jazz performance at the Jazz Café in Vedado or a cabaret show at a local hotel. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Accommodation: Casa Particular


Day 3: Explore Havana’s Markets & Happy Hour Tapas in a Local’s Home

Learning how food is purchased in Cuba is an important part of our Cuban food tour as it gives you an understanding of how communism and an embargo impact the lives of everyday Cubans. Our first top this morning is a trip to a mercado agropecuario (produce market) where you’ll see what fruits and vegetables are available to local Cubans and chat with the friendly vendors. Then we’ll head next door to a ration store where you will observe how basic staples are procured in very specific quantities. Our last market stop is a supermarket, where you will get a stark sense of what is, and is not, available to ordinary Cubans.


Next we will explore the Museum of the City and Plaza de Armas. We will then enjoy lunch at the famous La Guarida. This paladar is renowned for its innovative cuisine and of course, its part in the movie “Fresa y Chocolate”.


After lunch, we will head to Plaza Vieja, which dates back to 1559 and whose buildings have been lovingly restored to their former glory. Here we will stroll through the plaza- visit art galleries, a coffee roastery, and even take a short break at a chocolate cafe, where you might like to sip a cup of hot or cold chocolate and taste their delectable chocolate treats. And, if you still have room, perhaps try some refreshing coconut ice cream from an ice cream street cart.


Our last stop of the day is a real treat and definitely highlight of our Cuba food travel, as our guide and his wife invite you to their home in Centro Havana for happy hour tapas. Your charming host will show you how to make the perfect daiquiri. Then enjoy home-cooked tapas for dinner, along with great conversation and more than a few laughs with our hosts.


Later in the evening, those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music might enjoy the Buena Vista Social Club show (touristy, but fun) at a local hotel. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Accommodation: Casa Particular

africa-tanzania-ngorongoro-crater-gibbs-

Day 4: Day Trip to Viñales Valley & Las Terrazas

We’ll get a very early start this morning with a drive to the lush, green, and peaceful Viñales Valley. Surrounded by limestone karsts, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the origin of some of the finest tobacco in the world. Our first stop is an organic tobacco farm where we’ll meet with a third generation tobacco farmer. He will teach us how the cigars are made, explain the difference between Cohiba and Montecristo, and give you an opportunity to try a cigar dipped in honey. The cigars are very mellow and reasonably priced, should you decide to purchase them, but there is no pressure.


Next, we’ll head to a lovely local paladar, serving deliciously fresh Cuban food. After lunch we will drive to the town of Las Terrazas, which is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. We will stop for a quick pick-me-up cup of coffee at a local cafe and then explore the ruins of one of the oldest coffee plantations in Cuba, built in the 18th century. Next up is a stroll through the picturesque, whitewashed village enjoying views of the lake and native birds, and if the artist is at home, stop for a visit to a local art studio.


After a long, fun day exploring Cuba’s countryside, we will drive back to Havana in time for a late dinner.

Drive time: Approximately 6 hours round-trip

Accommodation: Casa Particular


Day 5: Fuster Gallery & Farm Tour

We’ll start the day with a visit to the Fuster Gallery, where we will see José Fuster’s incredibly colorful mosaic sculptures that have spread throughout his neighborhood.

Then we will take a 40-minute drive to an organic farm just outside the city of Havana. This farm is a new venture started by a young entrepreneur with a PhD. in agricultural engineering. He will show us around, telling us about the herbs and vegetables that are produced, and talk about the sustainable farming methods he develops and shares with farmers in his community and across Cuba. We will also learn about honey production, as they have several swarms of bees. After a delicious farm-to-table lunch cooked by his lovely wife, we’ll drive through Revolution Square on our way back into Havana.


Once we arrive back in the city, the late afternoon is yours to explore Old Havana on your own or your guide will bring you back to your casa to relax. You could also continue on to the (touristy, but fun) El Floridita, for a Hemingway approved daiquiri!


This evening is our last in Havana. For those who are interested in Cuba’s legendary music, tonight is another opportunity to enjoy an optional jazz performance or a cabaret show. Our guide will be happy to assist you with the details.

Accommodation: Casa Particular


Day 6: Discover Trinidad

After the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s time to relax and soak it all in. So, today we bid farewell to Havana and drive five hours south to Trinidad, a small colonial town on the southern coast of Cuba, where you may just forget it’s the 21st century. Please be aware that this drive involves several hours in our vintage cars. If you do not wish to do the 10-hour round trip drive to Trinidad (over the course of two separate days), you may choose to book just the Havana portion of the tour. Please contact us for more information.

Once we arrive in Trinidad don’t be surprised if you see more horse carriages and bicycles than cars! We will check into our simple, but clean, guesthouse, and enjoy a late afternoon walk around town to orient yourself to the area. Trinidad is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the main plaza, or Plaza Mayor, has stunning colonial architecture and museums galore, and as we walk the cobblestone streets we’ll enjoy the sound of Cuban street musicians.


After dinner, you may want to visit the Casa de la Musica, an outdoor music venue that congregates on the enormous staircase behind the main church, just behind Plaza Mayor.

Drive time: Approximately 5 hours

Accommodation: Casa Particular


Casa Particulars In Trinidad:  There are fewer choices for accommodations in Trinidad and the casas are more basic than in Havana. That said, we have found charming casas particulares in old colonial homes that are only a few blocks from the main square and all the action. Unlike the accommodations we use in Havana, these casas resemble more of a traditional B&B or guesthouse, and is an unique opportunity to interact with the family, and experience a glimpse what it is like to truly “live in Cuba.” Most guests find this to be a very compelling experience and much worth the possibility of minor inconveniences.

africa-tanzania-four-seasons-safari-lodg

Day 7: Valle de los Ingenios & Seafood Lunch with Local Chef

Today is the last full day of our Cuba food travel itinerary and it’s going to be great! In the early morning, we’ll head to Playa La Boca to greet fishermen as they return with their catch (if the fish are on). We will see first-hand how local fisherman make a living, learn about fish selection, and meander around this typical Cuban fishing village.


Then we’ll take a 20-minute drive to the Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) to wander among the old colonial plantation house and barracks that flourished in the late 18th century. We’ll also have an opportunity to see this beautiful valley from the top of La Torre Iznaga, a 150-ft tower. The view is well worth the climb!


Speaking of views, next we will head to the stunning Playa Ancon followed by a delicious seafood lunch with a former fisherman turned chef. This is a fun and easy going lunch and the restaurant has an open kitchen – perfect for chatting with the chef while he prepares the fish we brought him from the fishermen. The afternoon is yours to relax and wander through town, perhaps pick up some souvenirs or rum.

This evening we’ll have a lovely farewell dinner at Trinidad’s most popular paladar. It’s hard to say goodbye, but if we have to, at least it should be over fabulous food and drinks!

Accommodation: Casa Particular


Day 8: Drive Back to Havana & Cuba Culinary Tour Ends

Alas, it is time to head home. We will drive approximately 5 hours to the airport in Havana for your evening departure where your guide and driver will see that you are checked in for your flight. Goodbyes may be tough, because at this point they are far more than just your guide and driver – they are your new Cuban friends.

Drive time: Approximately 5 hours


Introducing the Paladar

Havana’s food revolution began 20 years ago when private citizens were again allowed to operate family-run restaurants, or paladares. The rise of the paladar is leading to unprecedented innovations in Cuban cuisine and vast improvements in customer service. Some paladares are still family-run affairs offering traditional, delicious, down-home Cuban food. Other private Havana restaurants offer eclectic Cuban cuisine using organic produce and a fusion of international flavors, served up in magnificent settings with stunning artwork and expansive patios. On our Cuban culinary tour we will dine at some of the finest paladares in all of Cuba. You will also have several free nights to choose your own paladar and sample additional Cuban cuisine options.


Cuban Cooking Experiences

Access Culinary Trips is pioneering culinary travel in Cuba by offering access inside local Cuban kitchens at top restaurants for the first time ever. You will have the opportunity to meet with talented chefs and mixologists at some of the top private Havana restaurants as they share the secrets to making authentic Cuban cuisine and cocktails. One of the many highlights of this tour is a Cuban cooking demo, exclusively for Access Culinary Trips guests, in one of Havana’s best paladares.


Another culinary highlight begins in Playa La Boca, just outside Trinidad, where we will purchase the catch of the day fresh from local fishermen. Later on, our fisherman turned chef will grill it up, Cuban-style, at his restaurant in Casilda. This is a fun and easy going lunch demo and the restaurant has an open kitchen – perfect for chatting with the chef while he prepares the fish we brought him from the market.


Cuban Cocktails

Rum-based cocktails are a highlight for many people visiting the Caribbean, and Cuba, the original home of Bacardi rum is no exception. You will have a mojito class with the bartender of one of the original (and best) private Havana restaurants. We will also visit El Floridita, a historic bar famous for two things: being the birthplace of the daiquiri and being the favorite watering hole of Ernest Hemingway. You will not only get a chance to taste a daiquiri at El Floridita, you will also learn how to make the perfect Cuban daiquiri for your friends back home at a happy hour hosted by our local Cuban guide!


Please note: This trip involves a lengthy 10-hour round-trip drive to the colonial town of Trinidad. While the drive is beautiful, please be aware that there will be two separate days with approximately 5-hours of driving. If you prefer not to do the journey to Trinidad, this trip can be shortened to just the Havana portion for 5 or 6 days.


Participation: In order to maintain our license for travel to Cuba, this operator provides a full schedule of activities during each day of our Cuba food tour itinerary, and our guests must participate in those activities with the group. This will not only give you the opportunity to explore Cuba through its cuisine, but also to see some of Cuba’s iconic sights that you wouldn’t want to miss.


Internet: There will not be internet service or international phone service in any of the accommodations. However, we have built a couple of times into the itinerary to go to internet access points and we provide each group with a mobile phone for use in emergencies.


Please also be aware that Cuba is an adventurous destination where things do not always go as planned. We urge you to bring a flexible attitude and a sense of humor. The above itinerary reflects our best planning, but there may be times when we have to substitute different activities and accommodations on our Cuba food tours. That is la aventura Cubana – the Cuban adventure!

 

Rates

Questions?

Image by David Maunsell

DOUBLE OCCUPANCY

Two people traveling in a room together. Rate is per person.

From in USD:

$3,990pp

Image by David Maunsell

SOLO SUPPLEMENT

As a solo traveler, a cost supplement will be added to your trip.

From in USD:

$790pp

If you love cooking and/or eating, this program offers the ability to make deep connections over food, music, and laughter. Highly recommended!

Joy Martinello, Founder

Questions?

 

What’s Included & Cancellation Policy:

WHAT'S INCLUDED

NOT INCLUDED

CANCELLATION POLICY
Loss of monies paid applies to all cancelled reservations. The date of trip cancellation is the date on which the written cancellation is received by the Company. The loss of monies paid is as follows, per person:

Cancellation 90 days or more prior to trip departure – Loss of deposit
Cancellation betw. 60 and 89 days prior to trip departure – 50% of total booking cost
Cancellation betw. 30 and 59 days prior to trip departure – 75% of total booking cost
Cancellation less than 30 days prior to departure – 100% of total booking cost

Cancellation policy for custom and private trips may differ from these terms and will be communicated prior to booking
No refunds will be made if you voluntarily leave a trip for any reason after the trip has begun. The same applies if you leave a trip or cannot fully participate in a trip due to injury or illness. Refunds will be at the discretion of the Company if you are involuntarily forced to leave a trip for any reason. No refunds will be made for any accommodation, transport, sightseeing, meals or services not utilized.