Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is an island nation located in the northern Caribbean, south of Florida, United States. Known for its colourful colonial architecture and intriguing timeworn feel, the appeal of this Caribbean island to outside visitors has increased markedly in recent years.
In 2014, Cuba and the US agreed to normalise diplomatic relations, enabling the country’s popularity as a travel destination to grow. Its reputation as a beach paradise and cultural hotspot (with an abundance of Caribbean sunshine!) has earned this island a spot on many travellers’ wish lists.
While travel restrictions have loosened up over the last few years, the country still seems ‘trapped in time’, though this is part of its appeal. We’d advise you to get there sooner rather than later, to enjoy its continuing old-fashioned charm.
Many visitors flock to explore this enchanting country, with its butter-soft balmy beaches, lush green countryside and colourful colonial cities, with their characteristic scent of rum and cigar smoke. And it would be difficult not to notice the iconic multicoloured vintage 50s and 60s Cadillacs which crawl around Cuba’s city streets with effortless style.
If you’re hoping to read up on this fantastic country before visiting, then look no further! Also, be sure to apply for your Tourist Card for Cuba in advance of your visit too.
Where Is Cuba Located?
In relation to the United States, the island nation is located not too far off the tip of Florida. Key West island, Florida’s southernmost point, is approximately 90 miles north of Cuba’s capital city, Havana. The country shares maritime borders with The Bahamas, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and the United States.
The Caribbean island is situated in the western West Indies, between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, south of Florida and The Bahamas, north of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Found in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet, Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands.
It could be easy to think that the country is part of the United States due to its proximity, but Cuba is an independent nation after it gained formal independence from the United States in 1902. Today, the country is one of the more influential states of the Caribbean region.
Where Is Havana, Cuba on a Map?
The largest and capital city, Havana, is also a major port and the leading commercial centre. Havana lies on the northern coast along the Straits of Florida, south of the Florida Keys, where the Gulf of Mexico joins the Atlantic Ocean.
On a map, you can identify Havana by looking to the northwest area of the country. The city is located on La Habana (Havana) Bay on the island’s north coast.
Where Are the Main Sites in Cuba Located?
This long, slender island is made up of 5 distinct zones from east to west. Each region has its own unique geography and a different variety of culture, too.
The 5 geographic regions are as follows: Havana and Western Cuba, West Central Cuba, Central Cuba, East Central Cuba and Eastern Cuba. Each region offers its own unique attractions, scenery, differences in climate and geography and cultural distinctions.
Here are the main districts and cities you’ll want to consider when visiting the country:
Sitting on a 20km-long peninsula with powder soft sands lapped by waters of the Kawama Channel, the island’s main beach resort boasts more than 60 hotels. If you’re looking for a beach resort, this is the place that will provide that and more! Varadero is located on the north coast, to the west of the centre of the island, and 2 hours’ travel east of the capital of Havana.
One of the liveliest cities, the provincial capital of Santa Clara, landlocked near the centre of Villa Clara province, is known as a good place to soak up unfiltered Cuban culture. It is located in the most central region of the province and almost in the most central region of the country.
Santiago is the second-largest city behind Havana. A historical and cultural treasure, the city is often regarded as the root of the Cuban Revolution, and the many museums here retrace key events from this important period of history. It lies in the southeastern area of the island, 870 km southeast of the capital, Havana.
Santa María is a small island, about 16 km long by 2 km wide, located in the Bahia de Buenavista off the northern coast of the province of Villa Clara. It’s known for its array of fine beaches and water sports. Playa Las Gaviotas beach, in the northeast, backs onto Cayo Santa María Wildlife Refuge, one of the best places to observe the flora and fauna of the region.
Santa Lucia is a small seaside village located north in the province of Camagüey. With 20 km of white sand on a turquoise sea, Playa Santa Lucía competes with Varadero as the island’s longest beach. Travellers generally come here to dive the north coast’s best and most accessible coral reef, lying just offshore.
Holguín is a municipality and city and the capital of the province of Holguín. Located in the east, the fourth-largest city is known as the City of Parks. The centre is made up of elegant plazas, colonial buildings, museums and the sprawling Parque Calixto García; meanwhile, the outskirts are made up of beaches and holiday resorts.
Trinidad is a town in the province of Sancti Spíritus, central Cuba. Together with the nearby Valle de los Ingenios, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. As the island’s best preserved colonial city, you’ll find a unique mix of 1850s architecture and 1950s cars.
Where Is Hemingway’s House in Cuba?
One of the most visited tourist attractions is famed author Ernest Hemingway’s former residence, Finca Vigía (Lookout Farm). For more than 2 decades, Hemingway occupied the hilltop villa built in 1886 by Catalan architect Miguel Pascual y Baguer.
Like Hemingway’s Key West, Florida home, Finca Vigía has been turned into a museum, drawing many visitors who hope to learn more about the intriguing author, who wrote many notable works including The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Sun Also Rises.
You will find the house located 20 kilometres east of Havana, in the San Francisco de Paula Ward area of the city.
Where Is Cuba’s Main Airport Located?
If you’re considering visiting, you’ll most likely be flying into the principal airport, José Martí International. José Martí International is located only 9 miles away from Havana and houses the country’s leading airlines Cubana de Aviación, Aero Caribbean and Aerogaviota.
It may surprise you to learn that there are 30 airports in total in Cuba. With that in mind, you might consider one of the other hubs to fly into or fly to/from domestically during your stay. The larger cities such as Holguín, Varadero and Santa Clara all have airports nearby, so it is a fantastic opportunity to hop from place to place if you’re short on time and want to see more during your stay. Have a superb trip!