Itinerary may be subject to change once we are in the country.
Day 1. Tampa – Havana-Viñales
Early morning departure from Tampa to Havana. Bus ride to Viñales valley to meet our host Yolanda, an ophthalmologist and private entrepreneur that runs a room for rent business. Lunch will be served at Yolanda’s. In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to explore the town to learn about Cuban culture and history. Dinner at Agroecologico Restaurant and tableside conversations about the history and state of organic food production in Cuba. That evening we will stay in select private guest houses to experience Cuban family life and make new friends.
Day 2. Tour Viñales valley
With a local guide, we will walk or ride horses to Viñales valley and explore organic gardens and tobacco plantations. We will experience the magnificent geological formations and the rare endemic species of plants, birds and other animals that live there. Our guides will provide valuable insights into the culture of the region. Lunch at one of the locally owned restaurants. In the afternoon, we will enjoy some drinks and conversations at a beautiful lookout over the valley. That night our host, Yolanda, will prepare a traditional Viñales roast.
Day 3. San Juan y Martinez-Havana
In the early morning, we will travel to San Juan y Martinez, the famous tobacco lands. The best Cuban cigars are made with the leaf produced at San Juan y Martinez. There we will visit Finca Robaina to learn about tobacco leaf production. Later we will travel to Havana and will have lunch at Don David. In the afternoon we will ride around in old cars in Havana and have a walking tour of Old Havana. That night we will dine with special Cuban guests.
Day 4. Travel to the Isle of Youth
In the early morning, we will depart for Port of Batabano on south coast. Accompanied by a marine scientist from the Univ. of Havana, we will take a boat to the historically significant Isle of Youth and the inspiration for the book “Treasure Island”. Along the way we will explore the Gulf of Batabano, the most important lobster fishing grounds in Cuba. This unique and vast shallow gulf contains pristine mangrove keys and islets that abound with seabirds, manatees and dolphins. On the IOY we will stay in private houses at La Victoria community. Dinner presentation by scientist from UH’s Center for Marine Research on 15 years of marine research conducted in the area.
Day 5. Visit San Pedro River
We will take a boat to San Pedro River and conduct surveys for manatees and dolphins in the San Pedro River, our primary study site in Cuba. We will also collect environmental data in the coastal regions. In the afternoon we will visit Rives’s organic farm and enjoy a roasted pig.
Day 6. Visit Punta Frances National Marine Park (PFNMP)
We will pepart by boat to Punta Frances National Marine Park, located 13 nautical miles west across aqua blue Caribbean water. This is an excellent opportunity to see dolphins and seabirds. Founded in 1976, the park contains superb mangrove, seagrass beds and coral reefs habitats. We will conduct surveys by snorkeling or SCUBA diving on the pristine reef crests where fish, corals, and lobster are plentiful. We will spear for invasive lionfish and conduct a removal program. We will visit caves along the spectacular beach.
Day 7. Hike La Canada mountain/Visit Nueva Gerona
After breakfast we will hike La Canada, the tallest mountain in the Isle of Youth (309 m above sea level). We will enjoy the abundant tropical vegetation as well as the high biodiversity. Then we will travel by bus to Nueva Gerona to visit Isle of Youth’s main city. Lunch at Cabrera’s house (a very good friend and boat skipper). We will visit Presidio Modelo, the infamous old prison where Fidel Castro was in jail and walk along the boulevard to experience local culture.
Day 8. Return to Havana
Flight back to Havana. We will visit University of Havana and Center for Marine Investigations (leader in Cuba for marine science research and teaching and main partner of Sea to Shore Alliance) and discuss culture and research with Cuban colleagues. Closing celebration at Hotel National and dinner with Cuban friends and colleagues will be held at the end of the day.
Day 9. Return to Florida
Early departure for Tampa.
Click to download the S2S Marine conservation expedition to Cuba Itinerary.