Cuba – The Next Great Gay Travel Destination?
Posted on 11 August 2011.
By Craig Kimbrough
A new revolution is quietly brewing in Havana, Cuba which could make it
the next great gay travel destination. Only two hours from Atlanta, the
gay scene in Havana is beginning to sizzle after years of repression.
Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela, has even participated in a gay rights
march and Brokeback Mountain has been seen on government television.
While gay life is still largely underground, one of the most amazing
scenes occurs every night in Havana starting at about 11:00 pm where La
Rampa Street and the Malecon, an ocean front walk, intersect. On
weekends you'll see hundreds of guys strolling, chatting, and playing
guitars all night until the sun rises. Talk to the right people and
you'll get an invitation to one of the private home parties that pop up
in different locations throughout the week.
If you would like a small splurge, head over to the basement of the
National Theatre on a Friday or Saturday night for their cabaret/dance
party. You'll see hundreds of young Cuban men looking as if they had
just stepped out on a runway. If you are a foreigner, you'll pay five
dollars to enter while Cubans pay much less as is common all over Cuba.
Just a short walk from the gay scene on La Rampa takes you to La Zorra z
el Cuervo, a jazz club with top national acts going until late in the
morning. Eleven dollars gets you in and buys you two drinks once inside.
This is an intimate club not to be missed!
When you are ready to recover from the nightlife, only thirty minutes
from Havana is a beautiful gay white sand beach. You can rent a lounge
chair and umbrella to catch up on lost sleep. While not easy to find,
you may need to make a Cuban friend who will show you the way, but this
shouldn't be difficult.
Havana is a great walking city and a photographer's paradise. The
architecture is stunning. There is a wide diversity of art, music and
museums which could take weeks to explore.
Cuban restaurants have traditionally been dismal, however this is
changing rapidly. You can expect to pay eight to fifteen dollars for an
entree and not much more than three dollars for a drink in an upscale
Finding a place to sleep can be dicey. Hotels in all price ranges can be
found. To experience the real Cuba try staying in a casa particular,
which is a family run bed and breakfast. Try your hand at an internet
search, you'll be amazed at the plentiful options. We like Hotel Habana
Paseo located at Calle 17, esq A. This beautiful newly renovated 30 room
mansion is still working out the kinks but provides great value and
location. Single including full breakfast, $34.
There are many great restaurants in Cuba, but the one you must try when
you go is Sociedad Asturiana Castropol located at Malecon 107 e/Genio y
Crespo. This is possibly the best restaurant in Cuba. Ask to be seated
upstairs and hope for a table on the balcony overlooking the Caribbean.
They have a wonderful variety of seafood.
Once you are ready for your Cuban adventure, you will need to obtain a
travel license issued by the U.S. Treasury Department, which can be
difficult and time consuming. Some travelers have been known to fly to a
third country such as Mexico or the Bahamas to simplify the trip. With
direct air service scheduled to begin soon from Atlanta and both
countries easing up on restrictions, Havana Pride could very well become
the trendy travel event of the future.