With its lush rain forests, green mountains, rushing rivers, sandy beaches, colorful coral reefs and long tradition of environmental conservation, the easily explored island of Cuba is an outstanding destination for the outdoors-minded traveler.
Rock climbing is catching on in Cuba, especially in the Viñales Valley. Pico Turquino in the Sierra Maestra National Park is the island's highest peak (6,562 ft.) and a popular hiking destination, while the eastern town of Baracoa is a hot spot for rafting on the Rio Toa.
Cuban has every form of accommodation, from five-star beach resorts to budget hostels. But a great option is the ubiquitous "casas particulares," private homes whose owners are licensed to rent out rooms.
A rental car is a great way to get around the island, and there are a number of government-owned agencies like Cubacar and Rex that provide the service. Cubana airlines has commuter flights around the island, Ferrocuba is the passenger train service, and Viazul is a recommended bus company.
Cuba has two currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC$) and the Cuban peso (CUP$). The government levies an exchange tax on U.S. dollars, so bring another currency, like euros.
Visitors must purchase a CUC$15, 30-day tourist card (usually issued by an airline or travel agent) and pay a CUC$25 departure tax. United States citizens may not travel to Cuba without a special license from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.