Immerse your senses in Havana’s rich culture. Enjoy guided tours of the outstanding Cuban contemporary art museum, and the antique-embellished decorative arts museum. After a relaxing lunch in a chic private restaurant, explore the avant-garde art scene with a Havana curator taking in the home-studios of famous and emerging contemporary artists.
Havana sizzles to music all day and habaneros love to dance all night. Explore an introduction to what makes Cuba tick: learn how to play the pivotal percussive instruments of salsa and son, before learning the flirtatious moves of rumba and the rhythmic footwork of salsa. In the hours before midnight, head out with your guide to hear the latest tunes in Havana’s hippest haunts, or move those hips to the salsa beats in a number of late-night dance haunts.
Cross Havana’s harbour to tour the fascinating Guanabacoa museum with its outstanding exhibits on Afro-Cuban religions. Principal Afro-Cuban religion, Santería, has a pantheon of saints syncretised with the saints of Roman Catholicism. Meet ethnologist and Santería expert Natalia Bolívar, who will introduce you to the intricacies of the religion, and organise a ceremony.
Getting your finger on the musical pulse of Havana is difficult without expert insider knowledge. Esencia’s music connoisseur will introduce you to singer-songwriters and accompany you to matinee and evening performances. Classical music concerts and the famous Ballet Nacional de Cuba will also feature on Havana’s hot and happening cultural calendar.
Day 5, Day 6 & Day 7
Either choose from three relaxed beach days, or opt for some boho adventure at sea or on land. Choosing R&R, head for one of three Esencia picks: one of the large Garden Villas with private pools and Jacuzzis at Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa; a luxury villa at the Iberostar Ensenachos which nestles among tropical plants and flowers on the curves of two of the best powder white beaches on Cayo Santa María – the Ensenachos and Mégano; or fly to the acclaimed golden licks of sand on Cayo Largo and stay in a junior suite at the island’s best hotel, the Sol Cayo Largo.
For those looking for some soft adventure, sail to Cayo Levisa off Cuba’s western coast. This small, dinosaur-shaped island, fringed with aquamarine seas, houses beachfront cabañas, and offers offshore diving. Alternatively, sail on a catamaran from the French-founded sherbet-coloured city of Cienfuegos down to the coral castaway islands of Cayo Largo, snorkelling with marine turtles as you go.
For landlubbers, a three day trip to Baracoa won’t disappoint. Cuba’s adventure capital offers crystalline rivers, mini-mountains and archaeological remains. It’s also one of Cuba’s culinary capitals as chocolate, coffee and coconut work their way into deliciously prepared platters and drinks.