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Hike and Kayak in Cuba

Paddle and stomp through Cuba's lush green landscapes and wild swim in secret natural pools along the way


Trip Ref #10436

Hike and Kayak in Cuba

Paddle and stomp through Cuba's lush green landscapes and wild swim in secret natural pools along the way

7 nights
1 week off work
Up to 14 people
Havana Airport

Casa particular · Hotel · Stilted hut



Based on 14 reviews

Although no previous kayaking experience is necessary, you will need to have relatively good levels of fitness

Kayak through the Zapata Peninsula and Guamuhaya Mountains, eyes open for iguanas, turtles and crocodiles

Hike the Sendero Reino de las Aguas trail and swim beneath the azure waterfalls of El Nicho Natural Park

Bunk down in casas particulares and grab a taste of cultural Cuba in the colourful streets of Trinidad and Havana

Day 1

Welcome to Cuba!

Catch your first glimpse of Hemingway’s much-loved Havana as your host meets you at the airport and transfers you to the artsy barrio of Vedado. Settle into your casa particular and go for a stroll around the colourful streets. In the evening you'll meet your guide and the rest of the group and head out to a nearby paladar for your first Cuban feast of the trip.

Day 2

Kayaking in Laguna del Tesoro


2-3hrs · 8km



After breakfast, you’ll head off to Boca de Guama, located in the Zapata Peninsula on the Southern Coast of Cuba. Hop on a boat across the Laguna del Tesoro (Treasure Lake) to one of its tiny islands. From here you’ll launch kayaks and explore the canals that cut through the swampland, home to a myriad of colourful birdlife. Paddle back to La Boca, enjoy a picnic lunch before driving on to Playa Larga to your next beachside casa particular and a sunset dinner.

Day 3

Kayaking in Salinas de Brito


5hrs · 9km



Drive deeper into the Zapata Peninsula National Park, reaching the southwest side of the Bay of Pigs. Put in at Las Salinas – a protected reserve home to a vast array of wildlife. Paddle across the mangroves (home to flamingos and hummingbirds) and pull up at various cays to see iguanas, turtles and crocodiles in their natural habitat. Head round the coast to a nearby beach for a packed lunch, a swim, and a snorkel (you're now well away from the crocodiles and can enjoy the views from below the surface!) before hopping back in the van to Hanabanilla in the Guamuhaya Mountains. Bunk down in a hotel with spectacular views of Lago Hanabanilla, a beautiful mountain lake.

Day 4

El Nicho Natural Park


2-3hrs · 5km


2hrs · 8km

Today you'll explore the beautiful El Nicho Natural Park, a natural wonderland of waterfalls and clear water pools, all set within a protected area of virgin forest hidden amidst the mountains of the Guamuhaya. This is undoubtedly one of Cuba’s true gems. Hike along the Sendero Reino de las Aguas (Kingdom of Waters Trail) stopping to enjoy some of the best swim spots you'll ever find. Back in the kayak, paddle across Hanabanilla Lake with steep mountains rising up from the shoreline until you reach Rio Negro where you'll settle into your ranchon – a thatched-roof hut – for a night out beneath the stars.

Day 5

Hike to more waterfalls and swim spots


2.5hrs · 6km


3-4hrs · 12km

Tuck into breakfast and head out for another epic day, kicking off with a paddle to the south side of Hanabanilla Lake, making your way towards the amazing Los Helechos waterfall. You’ll hike along the Cascada de los Helechos trail and grab a swim in the cold clear waters of the waterfall. Continue by kayak, paddling towards Jibacoa before jumping into a jeep to reach the Casa de la Gallega (an old hacienda) in time for lunch. The hike to the Salto de Rocio, a 25m high waterfall, is perfect for a late afternoon dip. This trail is a great place to see Cuban trogons, hummingbirds and woodpeckers. Towards the end of the day, you'll be picked up and dropped off at a hotel for a well-earned cold beer.

Day 6

Trek to Vegas Grandes and drive to Trinidad


4-5hrs · 12km



Continue your hiking adventures with a trek through forest and scrub areas, deep into the heart of the Escambray Mountains. You'll reach the beautiful waterfall and natural pond at Vegas Grandes – another lovely swimming spot. The trail ends at Julio's farm, where you'll celebrate with a Cuban cocktail and a country lunch before heading to Trinidad to check in to your casa particular. In the afternoon, your host will introduce you to the fascinating city of Trinidad.

Day 7

Cuba's cultural side



After all the hiking, kayaking and wild swimming escapades it's time to see the cultural side of the island. Today your host will show you around Trinidad on foot. Little has changed in the past 150 years, as you'll see while meandering the cobbled streets lined with colonial houses. Enjoy a packed lunch on your afternoon drive back to Havana, with a quick stop in Cienfuegos. Head out for one last evening meal and a cocktail or two in Old Havana to round off the trip in style.

Day 8

Adiós, Cuba

One last bit of adventuring to do as your host shows you around Havana's food scene – depending on your flight departure time – before transferring you back to Havana Airport in time for your onward flight.



Expert, local, English-speaking guides


4 nights in casas particulares, 2 nights in a hotel and 1 in a ranchon (thatched hut)


7 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners


Airport transfers and everything in between


All kayaking and safety equipment, plus camping gear

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

Visas where required

Day 1

Casa particular · Twin share




Day 2

Casa particular · Twin share




Day 3

Hotel · Twin share




Day 4

Stilted hut · Twin share




Day 5

Hotel · Twin share




Day 6 – Day 7

Casa particular · Twin share




Day 8

Departure day




What is the food like?

You'll be tucking into rice, black beans, slow-roasted pork and chicken, fresh fish, plenty of tropical fruit and maybe even lobster. It can be difficult to grab a sandwich in Cuba, so your guide will often arrange a sit-down lunch. It is a good idea to bring along some of your favourite snack bars for some protein and energy on the adventure, as this type of snack food is scarce in Cuba.

Food shortages are a reality for local residents and small businesses, and whilst you certainly won't be going hungry, it is useful to know that Cuban cuisine is typically based on a small number of ingredients, prepared lovingly and to deliciously high standards. You'll find that rice forms the base of most meals with sides of root vegetables and beans.

Of course, Cuba is the land of the Mojito, Daiquiri and Cuba Libre. You'll find plenty of rum-based drinks all over the country. Beware, they are free-poured and might be stronger than the ones you get at home!

What is the accommodation like?

Casas Particulares

You'll spend four nights of the trip staying in casas particulares – the quintessential way to see the real Cuba, while getting a good night's sleep after a long day of adventuring. See the FAQ section for more insight into staying in a casa particular. The casas are dotted throughout the itinerary: first in Vedado, an artsy and cultural neighbourhood in Havana, then right on the beach in Playa Larga and finally in beautiful Trinidad. In the casas, you'll stay in same-sex, twin-share rooms with a shared bathroom. These Cuban homes offer simple facilities, a warm welcome and clean rooms. There will be air conditioning and you’ll be spoilt at breakfast in the mornings.

Rio Negro

Enjoy a scenic nighttime experience, bedding down for an open-air night on the shore of Rio Negro, sheltered by traditional thatched palm leaf huts. Mattresses, sheets and blankets are provided.

Hanabanilla & Topes de Collantes

At the lakeside spot of Hanabanilla and the surrounding Topes de Collantes area, you'll stay at Hotel Hanabanilla and Hotel Los Helechos in simple twin-share rooms, some with lake view balconies. Hotel Hanabanilla is blessed with an incredible view across to the lake and mountains, and both hotels boast pools if you fancy a swim.

The Area




Jose Marti Airport, Havana (Terminal 3)

Any time on Day 1


Jose Marti Airport, Havana (Terminal 3)

Any time on Day 8


Your host will meet you on arrival at José Martí International Airport in Havana at Terminal 3 (into which all international flights from Europe and Canada arrive) and transfer you to your casa particular accommodation in the artsy area of Vedado. On Day 8, your host will transfer you back to the airport in time for your onward flight.

If you wish to arrive before the trip start date or stay on longer at the end, your host can arrange private airport transfers and casa particular accommodation in the Vedado district of Havana – see Optional Extras for prices. Your host can also arrange pre- and post-trip accommodation at a selection of other Havana hotels, and also at beachside locations such as Playa Jibacoa (1.5 hours east of Havana), and Cayo Levisa (an island 3 hours to the west).

Travel options

There are direct international flights to Havana from various major hubs in Europe.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What's included?

  • All your kayaking gear

What do I need to bring?


  • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
  • Daypack (20-30 litres)
  • Drybag for valuables (10-20 litres)


  • Lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Lightweight waterproof trousers
  • Fleece jacket or similar for the evenings
  • Buff or neckscarf
  • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear and socks
  • Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Hiking boots or hybrid running/hiking trainers (worn-in)
  • Sandals


  • Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner (optional)


  • Universal travel plug adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Ear plugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Headtorch or torch
  • Reusable water bottle (x1 litre)
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks - read our article on Best Hiking Snacks
  • Water purification tablets/treatment system
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Cuba visa (can be sold to British & European passport holders resident in the UK)

Payable Before Departure

Cuba visa (can be sold to British & European passport holders resident in the UK)

Per Person

Single room in Vedado casa particular

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Vedado casa particular

Per Night

Twin/double room in Vedado casa particular

Payable Before Departure

Twin/double room in Vedado casa particular

Per Night

Optional private room upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional private room upgrade

Taxi between Havana airport and accommodation - each way (3-5 people)

Payable Before Departure

Taxi between Havana airport and accommodation - each way (3-5 people)

Taxi between Havana airport and accommodation - each way (up to 2 people)

Payable Before Departure

Taxi between Havana airport and accommodation - each way (up to 2 people)

Jessica M.
Uno mas!

What a beautiful country and an amazing experience! Our guide Rey and bus driver Carlos were both fantastic, they were beyond helpful and were a great laugh too. The activities were a great level for beginners who are still looking for a bit of a challenge and adventure. Highlights were the many waterfall swim stops on the hikes and seeing flamingoes in the wild! Food was basic but tasty and there was plenty of it. If you’re thinking of booking - just do it. Be open minded to the amazing culture of Cuba and bring your sense of adventure. Make sure you try a Canchanchara cocktail.

Lucy A.
There were only 2 of

There were only 2 of us on this trip which was a shame as we missed a group dynamic but the guide Arley, driver Abdil & kayak guys were all great fun & so helpful. It would be impossible to arrange anything close to this itinerary yourself. It was so well organised & action packed. Whenever you finished an activity the bus was waiting for you.

rebecca w.
Awesome tour

Ray was the best Cuban tour guide he took care of all of us. Mixed abilities in the group which was accommodated, sleeping under the stars, kayaking and hiking - very adventurous but great fun. Would highly recommend.


I can definitely recommend this trip, but be prepared for lots of mosquitoes on the island hike and a couple of very steep areas of hiking in El Nicho. The pace could have been a little slower to enjoy the beautiful water falls and swimming holes a little longer. The tour bus felt like a luxury for our group of 7, but might feel a bit cramped for a full group of 14. Our group members and tour guide were super fun and positive, so all in all, it was a definite good experience.


Epic trip! Had a fantastic time with great people. Laz, our guide, was brilliant. Just wish it was longer! Beautiful scenery, amazing activities, good food.


Had a wonderful time. Great group and great guides. Really enjoyed the kayaking and there were some beautiful outdoor swims. All very well organised, had our own air conditioned bus that took us everywhere and we managed to cover a lot of Cuba in a short time. The hikes I would call more walks in terms of length but they were pretty steep and it was very hot so you probably would not want anything too much longer. Had a lovely outdoor lunch at the end of the main hike which was a nice touch.


This trip far exceeded my expectations! It felt like we were off the regular tourist route for the trip and often were experiencing the natural scenery of Cuba all by ourselves. What truly made the experience great was the people on my trip and the fantastic tour leader!


This trip far surpassed expectations and showed me so much of the natural beauty of Cuba and taught me a lot about its history and culture. Our guide, Rey, was absolutely amazing - incredibly professional ensuring everyone's needs were met but also a brilliantly friendly and funny guy who really brought the trip to life. The variety of landscape was amazing and it really was an action-packed holiday. Incredible value for money and one of the best trips I have ever been on. Would highly recommend 10/10. If in doubt, just book it!!! (I promise you won't regret it) :-) Thanks to MBA, Rey and all my fellow travellers who made this an 8 days never to forget!!

Spending NYE in a thatched roof ranchon, open to the wild, and waking to the dawn chorus and sunrise was the best start to a year I have ever had.


This is a truly fantastic adventure, and I would highly recommend to anyone. What a beautiful and friendly country. Felt very much off the beaten track at points, whilst still having the security of being a guided tour. Kayak/Hike/Drive times all pretty accurate.


This was a great trip and gave a good insight into the real Cuba. Our Guide Ray was very knowledgeable about Cuba and very passionate about his country. I felt we covered a lot in the week staying somewhere different every night. The Cuban people were so friendly and there was a great contrast between our time kayaking and our time in Trinidad and Havana. I would recommend hiring the American cars for a tour of Havana and definitely take a salsa lesson if you get the chance. My only negative would be that there wasn’t as much hiking as I would have liked. All in all a great trip. I would highly recommend.

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 190kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

You should be happy being on the go all day, and while there are no lung-busting ascents or arm-destroying days of paddling you'll get the most out of this trip by having a decent level of fitness. There are plenty of stops to take in the views, endemic flora and fauna and enjoy the wild swim spots.

You really do not need any kayaking experience. You'll be provided with a single kayak and your guide will give you full instructions plus a safety briefing at the start. You’ll just need reasonable levels of fitness to handle up to 4 hours and 9km of kayaking on the paddle days.

Double kayaks are available upon request but availability is very limited - just let your local host know after booking.

Casas particulares are Cuba’s answer to the B&B – a Cuban home that rents out at least one room to guests. They became legal to operate in 1997 and have since become the most popular type of accommodation on the island. You'll experience a real Cuban home as the family usually lives in the property they rent out, giving you a unique insight into the way Cubans live. Staying in a casa particular is by far the best way to do things the Cuban way: not only does it bring you closer to the real Cuba, but it’s also a great way to contribute directly to the local economy. The money you spend in a casa particular stays with the family and gets reinvested in their community, making it the simplest way to practice sustainable tourism in Cuba. Your host family will provide breakfast at each of the casas particulares that you stay in on this trip.

In 2021, Cuba got rid of its dual currency system, leaving the CUP (Cuban Peso) as the sole domestic currency. Cuban salaries are paid in CUP, and locals can pay for basic utilities and goods with this currency. What previously was the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) has now been more or less replaced by the digital MLC (Moneda Libremente Convertible), which basically requires Cubans to have access to foreign currencies from outside of Cuba to purchase any imported goods, toiletries, medication, etc.

What does this mean for your trip to Cuba? Long story short, we suggest you bring cash in Euros (small note denominations) and exchange a little amount into the local currency.

GBP, CAD and USD are also accepted as cash payments in most private sector restaurants and bars, however Euros have more of a reliable widespread appeal. It is worth noting that if changing USD cash for CUP at an state cadeca (exchange bureau) then an additional 10% commission charge is applied, so isn’t advisable.

If you want to use your bank card, make sure to check that the bank is not US-owned, as you will not be able to use it in Cuba. ATMs are appearing more and more, and you can now use bank cards in government-owned shops, duty-free shops, as well as hotels and restaurants.

Nationals of most countries, including the UK, all EU countries, Australia, Canada and US require a visa to enter Cuba. The required tourist visa, known as a tourist card, allows the holder to stay in Cuba for 30 days and is valid for a single entry. You must provide proof of a confirmed return flight and booked accommodation. This tourist card can be renewed for a further 30 days in Cuba. The tourist card is valid for one entry of 30 days within 180 days of issue and can be extended in Cuba for a further 30 days.

As long as you are a UK or European Passport holder resident in the UK, you can buy a visa through the local host that we have partnered with for this trip. Please see Optional Extras to add this to your booking – the cost is £25 and this includes postage within the UK. Please request this several weeks prior to travelling at the very latest, as delivery cannot be guaranteed for any last-minute visa requests.

Alternatively, you can obtain a visa from the Cuban Consulate in person or by post. Allow up to four weeks for visa processing.

You can connect to the internet in most of the larger cities and hotels, but expect the connection to be slower and sometimes patchier than at home (best not plan to watch videos or download large files while you are there). We recommend turning off your roaming data when you land, as you can be hit with heavy charges (check with your provider in case). You will be able to access the internet at your hotel either free of charge, or by purchasing a NAUTA Wifi card. You can also buy a local tourist Sim Card (CubacelTur SIM card) at the airport or at offices in the main cities. Unless you have a VPN installed, some US-owned websites will be blocked for you. Your host will be able to help out with more information.

Travel from the USA to Cuba for tourism purposes is currently prohibited by the US Government. This is regardless of your nationality, and applies to all flights scheduled between the two countries. To avoid potential problems with US immigration it is strongly advised not to travel to Cuba via the US. Read the OFAC Regulations on travel to Cuba for more information here.

US citizens are very welcome as visitors to Cuba, and commonly fly to Havana on separate flight bookings via regional airports situated in other neighbouring countries.

The US Government classified Cuba as ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ and as a result, anyone travelling to the country after 12th January 2021 is no longer eligible to apply for the US visa-waiver (ESTA) and, as things currently stand, will instead need to apply for a visa through a US Embassy in order to visit the USA in the future. You can request Cuban Immigration not to stamp your passport.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however, we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

£5/€6/$6.50 per person per day

Please note that the Cuban Peso is quite unstable as a currency, so your guides would hugely appreciate their tips in a hard currency, particularly Euros which are widely accepted in Cuba. Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality.

Your host provides 3 litres of mineral water per person, per day. If you require more than that, you'll need to filter your own water since the tap water in Cuba is not safe to drink. The best option here is to bring a water bottle with a built-in water filter, although water treatment tablets are also fine. Have a read of our article on the best water filters for adventurers.

Cuba is always warm, but certain months are better to visit than others. High season is November to mid-April, with pleasant temperatures in the mid-late twenties celsius, and plenty of clear skies. September and October bring a higher risk of hurricanes in the Caribbean, so we don't offer trips during those months. Temperatures are higher in the low season, particularly July and August with highs of 32°C / 90°F in Western Cuba. April-June is the shoulder season and can be an excellent time to travel, as the weather is pleasant and there are generally fewer visitors. The month of May can be wet, though it’s considered good luck to get wet in the first May showers!

Yes, you can leave any excess luggage at your host's base in Havana.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

No. You'll need to have a larger bag suitable for all your belongings which will be transported for you, and then a small daysack to carry personal items during each day of hiking.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.


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