You can’t get closer to experiencing the real Cuba than by staying in Casa Particulars. By staying with a Cuban family in their house, they allow you to get a glimpse of their culture and day-to-day life. In some cases we had breakfast with the family, a chat with them on the sofa, or the daughter’s boyfriend as a guide. They organised bikes and horses for us and showed us around their grandfather’s small cigar farm.
Those homestays function more or less like a B&B. You can spend time with the family and chat to them but also get all the privacy you need. In all five of the casas we visited breakfast was included and we had our own bathroom. All homes were very meticulously clean (for the German in me) but some of the showers were quite adventurous with electric shower-head heaters and some loose cables flying around. Don’t touch them! I learned to refrain from adjusting the temperature anymore after a few electroshocks.
Outside of the bigger cities, Havana & Trinidad, the casas also offered dinner (often in the family’s living room or patio) and that was hands down the best food we had during our whole trip! Casas generally offer a choice of 3-4 meats and seafoods always served fried bananas, Arroz Moro and varying sides. And all of that for a fraction of what you would pay in a restaurant, in addition to delicious Mosquitos. Win, win! Oh and by the way, all the food below was for two people…
We pre-booked all our accommodation via homestay.com but realised a few days into the trip that it was completely unnecessary so we adapted our plans as we went along. Instead of pre-booking all nights, maybe choose to just book your first/last night and check out some of the options in the places where you would like to go. Internet is still a luxury in Cuba so many good casas can’t actually be found online, but you’ll find plenty just by walking the streets as the buildings are all marked with a little blue triangle.
We started and ended our trip with the same family and casa in Havana. Leaving them after spending quite some time together and having some heart to heart chats felt like leaving friends behind – quite literally in the rain.