As U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba have loosened in recent years, allowing educational institutions and travelers interested in cultural experiences— or "people-to-people interactions" as the government puts it—to visit the island, active-travel outfitters have started developing their own itineraries here.
This year, a number of companies are rolling out new trips to Cuba that combine cultural interactions (hiking with local university scientists, sampling cigars at a tobacco farm) with road cycling through neighborhoods full of Colonial-era architecture, hiking in the Zapata Peninsula national park (also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), and sailing through the limestone caves near the Sierra de los Organos Mountains. In 2013, there are new itineraries on offer from Geographic Expeditions, International Expeditions, and BikeHike Adventures, to name just a few.
"Cycling through Cuba is one of the best ways to experience this fascinating country," says BikeHike Adventures Director Trish Sare. "The roads are paved and in good condition, and since most Cubans travel by bike, the streets are relatively car free and it's easy to have cultural encounters with Cuban cyclists along the way."