While Cuba is known for vintage cars, gorgeous buildings, and beautiful beaches there are many opportunities to experience some adventure. As with most Caribbean destinations, there is a heavy emphasis on water sports, but there truly is something for just about everyone, both on land and in the sea. Whether you like to get wet while on your adventures, or you plan to stay on land at all times, you'll find the island nation to be destination rich in culture, history, and charm.
Climb Pico Turquino
For those who are looking to stretch their legs on a hiking trail, and take in some spectacular views, a trek to the summit of Pico Turquino may be just what the doctor ordered. The mountain is the tallest peak on the island, stretching 6,476 feet into the air. There are two routes to the top, both of which take about two to three days to complete, depending on your fitness level and hiking speed. It is possible to climb the mountain at any time of the year, but for the best experience, try to go during the dry season, which begins in October and ends in May.
Surf the Coastline
Cuba isn't well known for its surfing opportunities, but there are still plenty of nice waves to catch. The most consistent surfing experience can be found along the country's eastern seaboard, where tropical lows create nice swells from August through mid-November. After that, the best conditions can be found on the north side of the island from December to March. The surf scene in Cuba is still relatively small, but it is growing quickly. Plus, its semi-underground nature gives it a cool factor that is tough to top.
Take a Cycling Tour
Bikes are a popular mode of transportation in Cuba, with both locals and foreign visitors choosing to ride all over the island. Not only is biking a great way to explore everything that the country has to offer in terms of natural beauty, it is also a wonderful way to interact with the islanders as well. Canadian travel company G Adventures even offers an eight-day itinerary that allows travelers to cycle a large loop that begins and ends in Havana, but visits such destinations as Playa Larga, Viñales, and Santa Clara along the way.
Note: Because of current travel restrictions, some tour companies (like G Adventures) will not accept bookings for U.S. citizens. Call or email the companies in advance to check their policy.
Explore a Cave
Cuba is home to some extensive cave systems and has even taken the bold step to preserve many of those caves by making them national parks. This gives visitors the chance to see a side of Cuba that not everyone gets to experience, allowing them to go underground and explore a subterranean world. There are stunning caves around the entire island but the town of Viñales has some of the best spelunking opportunities, with the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás standing out for both its size and adventurous nature.
Cuba has a reputation for being a great spot to go snorkeling. In fact, it has many areas that offer great coral reefs to explore, as well as surprisingly varied sea life to encounter. Whether you're a complete beginner or an experienced snorkeler, you'll find plenty to love in the waters just offshore. The absolute best places are found on the expansive north and south shores, where the marine life is bright, colorful, and plentiful.
Give Scuba Diving a Try
For those who prefer to go further under the surface of the ocean, the scuba diving scene in Cuba is top-notch as well. This gives travelers a chance to explore the pristine reef system more closely, including the spectacular Jardines de la Reina, a remote archipelago in the southern part of the country that remains virtually untouched by humans. But if you'd like to make that dive, you should plan well in advance. To maintain the ecosystem, only 1,200 people are allowed to visit in any given year, making permits hard to come by.
Visit Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt
Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, the famous Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt is a true paradise for wildlife lovers. It is home to not only 16 species of endemic plants, but also an array of parrots, hummingbirds, lizards, and the rare Cuban solenodon. Thickly forested and featuring numerous rivers, the park is said to be the most humid place on the island. That means if you do intend to visit, dress appropriately and bring plenty of water, as it can sometimes get a bit uncomfortable on the hottest days of the year.
Take a Sailing Adventure
Cuba has long been a sailing destination, dating back to when the Spanish first arrived in the 15th century. Today, that nautical tradition continues, with massive cruise ships making stops at the country's ports of call. But for a truly adventurous sailing experience, leave those massive ships behind and charter a boat from one of the 20 marinas or nautical centers located around the island. Then set out to explore the entire Cuban coastline—with the exception of the Bay of Pigs—as well as the numerous small islands close to Cuba. Or, if you'd prefer to leave the details of the ship to someone else, book a trip with a tour company.