Traveling to Cuba is easier and cheaper than ever

HAVANA, Cuba (WTVD) -- Kate Warren and Katalina Mayorga are loving every minute of their seven-day tour of Cuba.

"I am a photographer, so Cuba for me is kind of a bottomless well of opportunity," Warren said. "It's obviously visually really dynamic, it's unlike anywhere I've every traveled, so it's been really exciting."

We found them exploring the beauty of Havana Vieja and restored buildings dating to the 1700s.

"While you are transported back in time, there's this incredible cultural vibrancy," Mayorga said. "Young folks are just adding to the creative community."

They hired Chad Olin, of Cuba Candela, to be their guide.

"I'm trying to show people an authentic experience in Cuba," Olin said.

Olin graduated from Harvard Business School last spring and started a company taking millennials to Cuba.

"I think many of the things that young Americans take for granted, are everywhere here. Real experiences, being disconnected from social media, interacting and really being present, that's all around you in Cuba," Olin said.

Warren and Mayorga took advantage of the new non-stop flights from Charlotte to Havana, among the first commercial flights to Havana in 55 years. They cost half as much as the charter flights that have been available until now.

The lower fares are leading to a surge in American travelers to Havana and Lazaro Torres loves it.

"I decided to buy this cab and start this taxi business here in Havana," Torres said.

Torres was born in Cuba, moved to Florida at the age of 15 and just returned, because he thinks he can make more money in Havana.

Torres bought a 1952 Chevy, with a Mercedes engine, for $20,000. He says he's hoping to cash in on all the Americans coming to Cuba.

"It's been growing," Torres said. "Right now most of the hotels are packed, there's no rooms."

In fact, hotel prices are skyrocketing. Last year, we stayed at the Hotel Havana Libre for $44 a night. Now, rooms cost more than $300 a night. The Cuban government is building new hotels, but the construction process will be lengthy.

Olin specializes in getting his travelers off the beaten-path. Mayorga says it has made a big difference in their trip.

"I would say definitely try to hook up with locals," Mayorga said. "It is very touristy and there are some places that feel like a complete tourist trap and don't feel that authentic or immersive."

Report a Typo
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.