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Why Cuba Is So Hot Right Now

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The Caribbean island of Cuba is a country like no other. So much more than a beach destination, this heavenly paradise beckons as the perfect place for your dream wedding and honeymoon.

This one-of-a-kind tropical destination has noteworthy nature preserves and unlimited outdoor activities, from swimming, diving and sailing to fishing, hiking, cycling, golf and more.

Additionally, Cuba is steeped in a unique history and culture, from centuries-old Spanish influences to 1950s Americana elements, providing enriching encounters throughout the island. Havana alone is vibrant with music, art, food, drink, nightlife, museums and architecture–all waiting to provide a honeymoon beyond your imagination.

And yes, Cuba has stunning beaches; Varadero’s white sands alone are consistently among the TripAdvisor Top 10 Best Beaches in the World–this year it ranked second. Here, you, your fiancé and guests can unwind and frolic, creating wonderful memories together. Or, imagine your photographer capturing every magical moment as you say “I Do,” surrounded by pristine sand, all your loved ones and the sparkling, turquoise sea.

Cuba was one of the first Caribbean countries to offer destination weddings with an on-site coordinator, so Cuban wedding planners are meticulous in organizing every gorgeous detail for your dream day. Plus, the country was an early adopter of streamlining legalities for Canadians marrying abroad, making it effortless to tie the knot on this island idyll.

What’s also cool about Cuba is no matter where guests live, they can easily join the celebration–30 Canadian cities offer direct flights to the island.

While Cuba has many fabulous nooks to visit, here are three top hot spots that will deliver the perfect exotic destination wedding and honeymoon.

VARADERO

Varadero is a gorgeous Caribbean playground with over 20 kilometres of uninterrupted white sand beaches on the curving Hicacos Peninsula. This “Cuban Riviera” is home to four- and five-star resorts boasting beautiful tropical landscaping providing exquisite backdrops for your wedding, photos and celebration events. These resorts offer luxurious rooms, butler service, gourmet dining, entertainment, grand swimming pools and many other features to make your stay spectacular.

For an outside-the-box experience visit the Reserva Ecológica Varahicacos, a nature reserve with virgin forests and beaches, hiking trails, salt mine ruins, opportunities to spot birds and animals, a cave inhabited by bats and adorned with pictographs, and other attractions.

CAYO COCO

Originally a pirate hideaway, this island is a superb utopian retreat for a destination wedding or honeymoon. Imagine you and your fiancé marooned in one of the area’s luxe properties, enjoying everything from elegant rooms and delectable cuisine to sumptuous spas, activities and entertainment.

Naturally Cayo Coco (joined to the mainland by a causeway) has the immaculate white sand beaches Cuba is famous for, and the resorts are lush with abundant vegetation for magical photos of every minute of your dream celebration.

The massive coral reef off Cayo Coco’s north coast (second largest in the world due to its size and seabed life) is a must for divers, or for lazily swimming hand in hand with your mister, surrounded by mesmerising schools of tropical fish…

Cayo Coco is also home to a colony of pink flamingos–imagine that as a setting for your wedding or honeymoon photos!

HAVANA

Havana is unrivalled as an exciting cultural destination and perfect for a honeymoon you’ll remember forever.

One of the most romantic cities on the planet, picture you and your new mister walking hand in hand along the Malecón (a sensational eight-kilometre seawall promenade), listening to son cubano music in Old Havana with its narrow streets and overhanging balconies, drinking mojitos in Hemingway’s haunts, or soaking up the Vedado district nightlife.

Havana has a sophisticated arts scene, with everything from ballet to a fantastic art museum displaying works by Cuban artists, plus scores of live music venues.

Step back in time for a self-guided walking tour exploring Havana’s historic buildings (some dating to the 16th century), from a fortress and castle to mansions and an opera house, or sightsee via a vintage 1950s American classic automobile. Not to be missed are a cigar factory tour and time at the Hotel Nacional–an art-deco landmark, opened in 1930, that’s hosted luminaries from Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando to Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg and hundreds more.

This enchanting city is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year, with many exciting events around this milestone. Create a dream trip to make memories that’ll last a lifetime, just like another power couple who explored this legendary locale–in 2014 Beyoncé and Jay-Z strolled the streets of Havana in a glamorous celebration of their fifth wedding anniversary.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Best Time
December through May in Cuba means dry sunny days and gorgeous blue skies.

Getting There
Canadians visiting Cuba must have a valid passport, fill out a tourist card (generally provided by the airline or tourist operator) and provide proof of health insurance for your stay.

Beach Party
Cuba has over 200 bays and 250 beaches to frolic in the surf, sun and sand.

Unique Heritage
The island, one-tenth the size of Ontario, has 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites—7 are cultural and 2 are natural.

Tons of Treasures
There are over 250 museums throughout Cuba.

Pirates of the Caribbean
Castillo de la Real Fuerza was built in 1577 to defend Havana against frequent pirate attacks and is the oldest stone fort in the Americas. The traditional cannon blast occurs nightly at 9 p.m., with guards performing a marching ceremony about 20 minutes prior.

Drink It All In
The daiquiri was invented in Cuba—make it your signature celebration cocktail.

For the Birds
In addition to flamingos, 150 bird species winter in Cayo Coco, including the island’s namesake, the white ibis, called coco bird by locals.

Book It
Cayo Coco’s environs inspired two of Ernest Hemingway’s novels: The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream. Bring them for your beach read or give as attendants’ gifts!

Shop Local
Varadero has abundant chic boutiques in the town, but pop into the local markets for unique explorations of traditional food, souvenirs and clothes.

Salt of the Earth
The abundance of salt around Veradero motivated the Spanish to establish a salt mine in 1587 that became the main salt supply depot for the entire Spanish Latin American fleet.

In Good Company
Vacationing in Veradero means holidaying in the spot where 10 elite Cuban families built holiday homes in 1887, beginning the area’s cachet as a pristine beach resort.

Ancient History
Settled by the Spanish in 1515, Havana has centuries of amazing history to explore!

Grand Designs
Old Havana became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982 since it offers 2 square miles of some 3,000 buildings erected in baroque and neoclassical styles on narrow, picturesque streets.

Dance, Dance, Dance
Havana is home to the Cuban National Ballet School, the biggest ballet school in the world with 3,000 students.

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