Hiya all! By now, you know I hang my hat in South Florida and spend a lot of time in Cuba. However, for many of my readers, Cuba isn't just a hop skip and a jump away. Most of the direct flights and cruises come through South Florida. So, I wanted to collaborate with a peer South Florida writer, Kaya Wittenburg, to bring you excellent travel tips for your layovers in route to Cuba. We both agree that when planning your trip to Cuba, don't forget to spend some time visiting Miami and South Beach. Enjoy Kaya's Miami travel tips! Buen viaje!
So you’re really doing it. You’re planning your trip to Cuba and you want to make sure you pack as much fun, adventure and relaxation as possible into your trip? You could get all the way to Cuba to start your vacation, or you could make a pit stop on the way and get your tropical island vacation off to an even better start. How, you ask? A stop in Miami and South Beach on your way to Cuba is one of the best ways to get into a vacation state of mind, and will get your Cuban vacation off to a sizzling start!
First of all, to fly right over Miami International Airport without stopping would be a shame. This world famous airport is busy and chaotic, yes, but is also packed with hidden gems that can’t be missed! From upscale shopping, sweet gelato, to a wine and cheese bar, and authentic Cuban coffee at Versailles, the airport in itself is a sight to see. All of the employees are bilingual, and it is a melting pot of people and cultures all over the world, a great place for people watching! The airport also offers beauty treatments, business centers, and luggage storage as added perks to this international airport.
The great thing about a Miami layover is that although it is a sprawling city, you can get to local attractions quickly and easily without wasting your precious time dealing with long commutes and crazy traffic. The beach is 25 minutes away from the airport, which means you can be off the plane and into your swimsuit in no time. If your layover is short, a quick trip to the beach, a grab and go lunch at one of Miami’s famous eateries, or an eye-opening tour through the Miami Seaquarium are easy ways to elevate your vacation. If you’ve got a half-day to spare, take a walk through the Wynwood Art District, browse a museum like Perez Art Museum Miami
If you have a little more time, experience South Beach like a local. Ask your uber driver for recommendations on places to eat and drink that aren’t so touristy, such as Tobacco Road, Ice Box, or Pubbelly Sushi, and forgo your sacred Starbucks (just this once!) for a real coffee treat at Panther Coffee. If you’re staying the night, you could splurge on a luxury hotel right on the water, or go for something more intimate like a cottage or beachfront bungalow. You could head to Lincoln Road for a day of upscale shopping and then take a yacht tour and decide which house on Star Island is your dream home.
If your final destination is Cuba, a layover in Miami is a great way to get in the vacation mood. Miami offers as much adventure or relaxations as you’re looking for, and is a great beginning to an exciting Cuban vacation. With its art galleries, world-class spas, pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife, luxury hotels, incredible food, and breathtaking views, it’s easy to see why Miami is constantly rated as one of the best cities for a layover, especially when you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Pearl of the Antilles!
**Post contributed by Kaya Wittenburg South Beach-based author of the Sky Five Properties blog