Planning a two week trip over Christmas holidays, anytime between December 19th and January 8th. We’ve narrowed it down to either Hawaii (probably Oahu Island, Honolulu particularly) or Cuba (probably Havanna area).
Wondering if anyone has been to one or both places and can offer their two cents.
Things to consider are definitly cost (we either want to go completely ALL-INCLUSIVE, or the opposite end and backpack/hostel it), SAFETY (I’ll be travelling just with another girl friend so we need to be cautious, I hear Cuba is one of the safest places, any truth in that?), activites (we don’t wanna JUST sit on the beach for 2 weeks, we’re looking for good, fun eco tours and stuff like snorkeling, horseback riding, rainforests, volcanoes, hot springs, NIGHT LIFE etc.)
Any other opinions or information you have to offer would be awesome!
I’ve never been to Hawaii but I did Cuba this past Feb. and I highly recommend it. Stayed at the Iberostar Los Tainos in Varadero, about an hour east of Havana.
I considered other spots too but I thought about it this way:
All those other places will be there 5-10-15 years from now, but Castro won’t live forever. As long as the communists rule Cuba will be a cheap place for Canadians to vacation. Better to go now because in 10 years there might be a Starbucks on every corner and Cuba might be just as expensive as PR, DR, Barbados, etc
Well, you have the currency changover in Canada (USD>Canada) then Canadian over to Cuban (Canadian>Cuba I assume). So, there could be money saving in doing that. Then, you may have cheaper prices for travel from Canada to Cuba, but I dont know about that. I would think it would be cheaper to fly out of the USA since it closer, but who knows.
Coman-thanks for the help but it has a few problems. One, most importantly, you cannot fly for vacation to Cuba! A US citizen needs special status and/or permission to go (unless of course they go to a place like Canada first). Also, the conversion isn’t as big of a deal as a lot of people like to think. The conversion to the Yen for the US is insane, but that doesn’t mean things are pennies! Inflation adjusts for that. When I was living in Europe, while the euro did have a better exchange rate, many items (int’l items–like McD’s) were approximately the same anyway as the prices were simply adjusted to fit the value of the euro.
Very good point you made there about Cuba, it definitly won’t be like this forever, I’ll keep that in mind! Can you tell me about what kind of stuff you did while you were there? Did you mostly just hang around the resort and lie on the beach or did you do all the day trips and stuff? What kind of tours do they have to offer and did you spend much time in the cities?
Thanks for the very generous offer T-bone…haha…I’ll keep that in mind!
First, never knew about the ban of flying to Cuba. I knew there were ban on goods from Cuba (like a certain cigar), but that was it. But looked it up and your right.
But the thing about the inflation thing, it actually works out, especially in a place like Cuba you would think. Sure, goods ajust to the lowering of the worth of a money slip, but if the USD is worth more than x, you will get more x’s to spend equalling you will save.
The thing about the Europe travels, when the Euro was up, many Americans who travelled there found things to be pricey and Europeans to America vis versa. Also, in many European countries (from what I’ve heard), McDonald’s are quite different in Europe. There way more pricey then they are in America (Europeans eat less fast food), and their “biggie meals” are smaller in size compared to “biggie meals” here. Just what I’ve heard though.
Yes, but it has less to do with the exchange rate and more to do with the economy of the area. Things are much more expensive in San Fran and NYC than in Iowa or North Dakota. Even if you have more X’s, what if things cost more X’s? Evens out (or at least close to).
The thing about the Europe travels, when the Euro was up, many Americans who travelled there found things to be pricey and Europeans to America vis versa. Also, in many European countries (from what I’ve heard), McDonald’s are quite different in Europe. There way more pricey then they are in America (Europeans eat less fast food), and their “biggie meals” are less than big compared to “biggie meals” here. Just what I’ve heard though.
I would disagree with that statement from my experience. They are different, but not in the way you speak of (at least, not where I was!). I think a lot of Americans find European countries to be pricey because they typically visit capitals. I think NYC is pretty expensive and I don’t even have to change out my currency, but I’m sure there are some more mathematical formulas for finding how much one is gaining/losing with the currency. From my experience though, it’s not all that different.
I say on the first point, I say it does make a difference, you say not, so there you go.
But I agree with you on the part where certain area’s are more expensive than others.
[QUOTEDavan]I would disagree with that statement from my experience. They are different, but not in the way you speak of (at least, not where I was!). I think a lot of Americans find European countries to be pricey because they typically visit capitals. I think NYC is pretty expensive and I don’t even have to change out my currency, but I’m sure there are some more mathematical formulas for finding how much one is gaining/losing with the currency. From my experience though, it’s not all that different.[/QUOTE]
Here is the thing, CNN at one time was doing interviews of tourist of both Countries (UK and USA who were traveling to each others countries), when the Euro was up. They were saying they saw a noticible difference. Of course it’s not going to be “super” difference (in certain countries it will be though) but it will be noticible at times like that.
the tourist stuff on the left looks cool. stuff on the right, not so cool.
A friend of a friend of mine also just got back from Cuba. Said he spent 550 dollars for an all inclusive trip. Said it was awesome, alledgedly, “off da chains”. He rented a Mo-Ped and just drove around everywhere.
The resort is called Breezes and it’s in/near the city of Varadero. It was a 1 week trip. This guy went with his family and 2 of his friends so I don’t know if it was a package deal or something. However, my friend says his friend said nothing about a package deal.
He says that they actually booked their stuff LATE which made it cheaper??? because the “airlines/travel agents just want to sell all the tickets they got left and get rid of them before they take off.”
I think the roundtrip airfare is a good portion of the price so maybe thats why?
Did a day trip to Havana, which was fun except that it was probably the coldest day of the year in Cuba.
Also rented a scooter and rode into town. That was a lot of fun.
At night time the guys who work at the resort will organize a group of tourists and head to one of the nightclubs in town. 10 bucks will get you a bus to and from the club, plus cover, plus whatever you want to drink (though since we’re on charliefrancis.com I assume you’re a serious athlete and will only be drinking water and OJ at the club, like I did
If you want to see a little more of the real Cuba you should make friends with the folks who work at the resort. I hit it off with the band leader (a BIG sports fan) and he wound up inviting me over for lunch with him and his family on his day off…that was a good time…
That’s probably the most important factor in my decision, I just forgot to mention it! Haha
However the Hawaii girls aren’t doing so bad themselves…
You’re very right though about not experiencing a different culture…that’s one of the biggest cons I have with Hawaii.
That’s definitly a good tip you gave about making friends with the hotel staff. It’s probably one of the best connections you can get in a foriegn country.
I can’t believe you only spent a day in Havana. I hear it’s one of the most remarkable cities. What did you think? And good call on the bars, definitly won’t be doing much drinking…how is the OJ?
I only had a week down there, so I spent most of it in deep relaxation mode. Next time I go I’m want to spend two weeks, and maybe see a couple of baseball games…
Havana was alot of fun. Crowded and busybusybusy. Everybody down there is trying to sell you something – or just get your money. Folks will watch you get off the tour bus, pull up in their big ol’ car and try to sell you a “private tour” of the city. It’s crazy.
But if you’re into old architecture you’ll love it. It’ll remind you of Quebec City…except most of the beautiful old buildings are crumbling and crews are working verrrryyyyy sllllloooooowllllllyyyyy to repair them…
Oh, and the OJ was great. Especially the OJ that tasted like rum and coke.
Hmm…ya…I’ve learned that a week is too short for any trip. Two weeks seems to be an ideal amount of time. Enough time to do lots of things and still have time to relax on days you feel like being lazy, or after too much OJ.
I’ve heard that about Cuba, that everyone is trying to sell stuff. I thought there were also strict laws about it too though, like if they get caught trying to solicit stuff to tourists they get pretty severe punishment, like a night in jail or something ridiculous like that.
I definitly love old architecture, Quebec city is probably my favourite Canadian city so I’m sure I would enjoy it. HOWEVER, I’ll have to save the Cuba trip for another time. We have officially decided on a Contiki tour of New Zealand!!