By Tracey Minkin

Oh, it's caliente out there in Cuba travel land: The Rolling Stones just announced they're playing a free concert in Havana in March, POTUS is gearing up for his historic visit (although the Pope beat everyone by months), and negotiations about commercial flights are moving forward. We got so excited about Cuba that we co-hosted an awesome Twitter chat with our colleagues at Travel+Leisure all about Cuba on March 1 (you can go read the thread at #TL_Chat for wonderful inside tips).

 

While I was preparing for the chat by going through all of Thayer Allyson Gowdy's remarkable photos of eastern Cuba when we traveled there for Coastal Living in October, I got inspired to share more about going to this wonderful place. Of course, you can follow my itinerary by reading all about it here and then contacting Johnny Consodine at Escencia Cuba Experiences—in a few clicks you'll be on your way to a true bucket list adventure. (You can also join Escencia's excellent bespoke tour options.)

Want more ideas for how to get to Cuba in 2016? Here are five tours I think are worth your time ... and money.

 

Trip #1: Travel + Leisure Journeys: Eight nights in Havana, Vinales, Cienfuegos and Trinidad, on this excellent itinerary planned with Black Tomato, one of my favorite outfitters out there. Prices start at $4,920. Learn more here.

Trip #2: Fathom Cruises to Cuba: This new small-ship experience from Carnival Cruises promises to be a cool new cruise indeed, focusing on cultural exchange. Prices start at $1,800. Learn more here.

Trip #3: National Geographic Expeditions: A well-established purveyor of high-quality travel in interesting places, this is a great go-to if you need flexibility in timing (the trips run all year long, and slots are still open as early as June 2016). This nine-day itinerary hits the classic spots: Havana, Trinidad, Cienfuegos, and the Bay of Pigs. Prices start at $5,995. Learn more here.

Trip #4: Backroads People-To-People Multisport TourPoints to one of my favorite active vacation outfitters for creating a cool, active itinerary in Cuba that gets you out and enjoying the landscape (including an afternoon riding with the Cuban National Cycling Club!). The itinerary is eight days/seven nights, and prices start at $5,998. Learn more here.

Trip #5: Esencia Bespoke Journeys: One of the wonderful things about working with Escencia on my travel to Cuba's little-known eastern regions was that the team had such deep knowledge. Which is why I'm crazy about Escencia's themed bespoke trips: baseball, birding, Hemingway, 1950s Havana, and more. Check these out, and see if you're not clicking as soon as you can (or picking up the phone).

 

 

Getting excited for Cuba?

Discover our favorite beach resorts in Cuba, here.

Read my story about Cuba's wild side, here. 

Take our style team's advice on the best clothes and accessories to pack for Cuba, here.

Check out Thayer Allyson Gowdy's amazing photos of Cuba, here.

 

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