Itinerary may be subject to change once we are in the country.
Day 1: Early morning departure from Tampa to Havana. Bus ride to Viñales valley, to meet our host, Yolanda, and have lunch. Explore downtown Havana and dinner at Agroecologico Restaurant. Lodging at select private guest houses to experience Cuban family life.
Day 2: With a local guide, we will walk or ride horses to Viñales valley and explore organic gardens and tobacco plantations. Our guides will provide valuable insights into the culture of the region as well as the geological formations and the rare endemic species of plants, birds and other animals that live there. Lunch and cocktail hour overlooking the valley. Our host, Yolanda will host a traditional Cuban roast for dinner.
Day 3: Morning travel to San Juan y Martinez, the very famous tobacco lands. Best Cuban cigars are made with the leaf produced at San Juan y Martinez. We will learn about tobacco leaf production from Finca Robaina. Lunch at Don David in Havana. In the afternoon, we will tour Havana in old cars and have a walking tour of Old Havana. Dinner.
Day 4: Morning departure for Port of Batabano. 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. Stay in private houses at La Victoria community. Dinner and presentation by scientist from UH’s Center for Marine Research.
Day 5: We will take a boat to San Pedro River and conduct surveys for manatees and dolphins in the river, our primary study site in Cuba. In the afternoon we will visit Rives’s organic farm and enjoy a roasted pig.
Day 6: Depart by boat to Punta Frances National Marine Park. 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 removal program. We will visit caves along the spectacular beach.
Day 7: After breakfast we will hike La Canada, the tallest mountain in the Isle of Youth (309 m above sea level). Travel by bus to Nueva Gerona to visit Isle of Youth’s main city. Lunch at Cabrera’s house. Visit Presidio Modelo, the infamous old prison where Fidel Castro was held in jail. Walk along the boulevard to experience local culture.
Day 8: Flight back to Havana. 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). Cultural experiences in Havana and discussions with Cuban colleagues. Closing celebration at Hotel National and dinner with Cuban friends and colleagues.
Day 9: Early departure for Tampa.