Seventeen years ago, I travelled to Cienfuegos, Cuba with my scuba diving group and picked up the most memorable souvenir of all – a husband. My future husband-to-be was also travelling with his dive group, and our paths collided, almost literally. Eighteen months after we dove through coral reef off the coast of Cuba, we said I do. The rest, as they say is history. Needless to say, Cuba holds a very special place in my heart.
For many years now, we’ve told our daughters stories of our first meeting and of the island where it all began. Cuba is an important piece in the narrative of their family and so in January of 2016 we decided the time was right to take them. We headed to Grand Memories Varadero with three objectives; show our girls the history, introduce them to the people and to enjoy the outdoor playground that is Cuba.
Cuba Then and Now
What I love about family travel is the opportunity to slip in some stealth teaching. Kids are so wrapped up in having fun that they don’t even notice they’ve just learned some valuable life lessons. Cuba is one of the richest examples I can think of for this.
Where some museums try for years to create the perfect living history environment, Cuba is living history. There are times when walking through the streets of Havana it feels as if you’ve literally stepped back in time, and depending on the view it might be hundreds of years or a mere fifty or so.
Months after our visit, Cuba is still a topic of conversation at our dinner table on everything from conquistadors and plantations, Kennedy to Castro, and revolutions to communism. I don’t recall a text book at school ever igniting as much discussion in our home.
The Best of Cuba: The People
There is a warmth to residents of Cuba that is infectious. Maybe it’s the rumba or mambo that is like a heartbeat for them. Perhaps it’s a culture that melds together seamlessly between Spanish, Portuguese, African, and Haitian to name just a few, that makes them so unique and proud of their heritage. I’ve never been able to put my finger on it exactly, but what I do know is that Cubans are kind and love showing you their country. My kids left feeling the very same way. Mission accomplished.
Cuba is a Playground for Families
There is no denying that Canadians flock to Cuba every year for the weather, and we were no exception. Yes, the history and people are important but ultimately, we wanted to enjoy the great outdoors for a week without being smothered to death in a parka.
Grand Memories turned out to be the perfect place to enjoy Cuba. Set on one of Cuba’s best beaches in Varadero, Grand Memories offered us an array of water sports for the whole family to enjoy! If you can take your eyes off the turquoise waters and white powdery beach at Grand Memories, turn your gaze towards the interior. Cuba’s inland is lush and worth your time! Talk to your NexusTours representative for an excursion that meets your family’s needs. Our entire family loved the Jeep tour that led us to a snorkelling hotspot, swimming in a cave, and lunch on a Cuban ranch.
Finally, if you need a bonus reason to visit Cuba with your kids, it’s value remains untouchable by many resort destinations in the Caribbean, something every family on a budget can appreciate.
Previously published at Sunwing.ca