Cuba 4 years later…

» Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Featured, havana, location, long trip

It has been almost 4 years since I have last visited Cuba and Havana. My first time around, it was harder to get to Cuba, you had to fly a charter plane, you had to travel with an officially sanctioned tour operator.
This time around, we flew with JetBlue, we were still part of a group but that was a small group focused on dancing salsa and rueda.

I was expecting huge changes in 4 years and that was not the case, Havana is still Havana. Everything here works on a different time scale. The main difference seems to be that there are more newer cars than last time but there are still plenty of old ones too. It seems there is more signs for “casa particular” (room for rent to tourists) and there is definitely more “palavar” (private restaurants), but overall nothing much has changed. Cubans are still super friendly and really welcoming people, buildings are still majestic and still crumbling down. The electrical grid is still a nightmare and would scare away any qualified electrician.

Like last time around, I spent all my early morning walking in Old Havana from 6:30am until 8:30, almost randomly and trying not to use the same street twice. I ventured in lesser visited sections of Havana, where I was often asked if I was lost. The advantage of the early morning and random walk made me discover amazing areas a little off the beaten path. 

I have split my images between buildings, beach, vehicles and people. 


Buildings in Havana and Cuba, in general, are magnificent. Some are better maintained than others but it’s part of the charm. You have your choice of Beaux-Arts, Mid-century or even 1700s buildings. When I went 4 years ago, old Havana was being actively restored. Today you don’t see as much work in progress as before and Old Havana is really beautiful. I don’t think you can never being done restoring a city like Havana. I have even seen work to put the electrical power lines underground, which should be even better. Here are some examples of my favorite buildings:





This building is an example of the state of some buildings and I don’t think for a moment that this building is abandoned. People are living in it today.





Of course, there are some very beautiful hotels right in the center of Havana.


This time we did have time to checkout the local beach of Havana: Santa Maria beach. It’s a quick 20min taxi ride from the center of Havana. To get there, negotiate with a taxi to bring you there and more importantly to pick you back up. For the entire taxi, which can fit between 5 to 10 people depending of the type of taxi, it’s about 10 CUC one way. If you don’t pre-book your way back, you will experience dynamic pricing and surge pricing Cuban style. If you want to get back around 5pm, when everybody wants to get back, prices for taxi going back jump per minute, 10, 12,15,20 and even 30 CUC to get back. Don’t get caught, pre-book your way back. 

Santa Maria beach is superbe, not really packed and the water is amazingly warm. It’s a beautiful gold sandy beach, where you can rent out chairs for the day and enjoy life by drinking a cold prĂ©sidente beer (yes you can get beach service, it’s Cuba, everything is possible).




Ahhh cars, literally the postcard of Havana and Cuba. Four years ago, they were everywhere, you hardly saw cars newer than 1980. Today, classic cars are still predominant but you see more frequently newer cars (2000 and newer). That is the big difference we saw. 

Don’t worry there are still plenty of classic, completely tricked cars for you to see and enjoy. 

Here is a couple of them from this trip.




Cars are not the only odd and interesting vehicles, we saw a lot of tricycles customized to carry two people. After a long day of walking in Old Havana, it’s a good idea to take one back to your hotel or casa particular. They seem to be mostly present in Old Havana.




This is the “classic” image of Havana with a couple of vintage cars lined up. The better looking vintage cars are lining up in front of the hotel “Parque Central” waiting for clients. If you get there early (8-9am) the cars are lined up and idle.



Cubans are beautiful and friendly people, I had a blast simply walking early morning in Havana and catching them in their daily activities. I’m not a good street photographer  and it’s really hard for me to catch the right moment. By the time I saw a potential image, that moment is gone. I need to work on that, but here is a few of my favorite images:





That’s it for this trip, as always all the images presented here are available for licensing or fine art prints.

Read more on my previous blog post in 2013.