Banished for many from the community of the western world by the American boycott, Cuba is slowly coming back. And in fact there are many good reasons to visit the Island.
Cuba offers not only some of the world's finest beaches but also a rich cultural heritage and vibrant, passionate approach to life that has been enticing visitors throughout the ages. With a population of 11 million - the largest in the Caribbean - 20% of Cubans live in Havana.
Situated between Jamaica and the Bahamas, Cuba has a delightful tropical climate with year round sunshine, a daytime temperature that rarely falls below 26C and warm, clear waters that gently lap against idyllic beaches of fine white sand and shady palm trees.
Further out to sea this fine sand gives way to some of the most exquisite coral reef to be found anywhere in the Caribbean, providing a perfect natural habitat for a wide array of underwater life... a mesmerising spectacle which no visitor should miss.
Yet if you do manage to drag yourself away from the sea, you'll find a fascinating country, one that beguiles it's visitors with a heady combination of Spanish, African and Caribbean influences, evident wherever you go, in its sights, sounds and tastes.
Most of all though, you will remember Cuba for the people. Naturally open and friendly, you are assured the warmest welcome in the Caribbean, a welcome that lasts from the day you arrive till the day you leave... awaiting your return.
Another side of the coin is the National Quest for Dollars. The people are very friendly indeed, but almost all people who start talking to you just want your money. They may have good reasons for this, but I will tell this. There are people who live in the slums, and go ask around people they know if they can borrow their most dirty clothes. Then they go to central Havana to beg. They only beg from tourists, because the Cubans don't give enough. If five tourists give them one dollar (which is what they always ask for), they have earned what normal honest Cubans have to work a month for. I'm not saying that Cubans are dishonest, it's just that the people you are most likely to come in contact with are going to annoy you. If you know that's going to happen, it'll bother you less. Next time I go (I will go again), I know I'll enjoy it more. Also, I won't be going in summer: I practically died of heat. Of course, that may be because I spent most time in Havana, where the heat reflects between the buildings.
One more thing: prices are terribly inflated. Because of the irrational government policy, you have to do your best to pay less than 15 dollars a night. Compared to South American standards that's crazy, compared to Europe or America it's acceptable.
The girls are wonderful. But as a tourist you have to be careful. Cubans are not allowed to get involved with tourists.
The 'casa particulares' are a wonderful way to save money and to meet Cuban people of all kinds. There is an underground network of contacts so if you decide to travel to another city, tell your hostess and they'll arrange another casa in the city you wish.
The food is local and very fresh, of course you have to pay for that but it's great. We even got some lobster which was caught a few hours earlier! Everywhere you go, there's fresh fruit.
Try to rent a scooter and go your own way, into the countryside. We saw some huge mango and pineapple plantation. We did some horsebackriding and went to a tobaccofarm to roll and smoke our own cigars.