Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Bicycle tours in Cuba hit top gear
In recent months I’ve consulted with several U.S.-based tour companies that wish to offer group bicycle tours of Cuba. To do so requires a special license for “people-to-people educational exchange” from OFAC (the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control), which oversees travel to and financial transactions with Cuba.
So far, OFAC has proven unwilling to contemplate bicycle travel as a viable means of cultural interaction, and to that end has denied applications that focus on cycling.
Nonetheless, you frequently come across U.S. citizens cycling in Cuba, alongside scores of Europeans doing the same.
More noticeably, this past year I’ve witnessed an explosion of cycling groups touring the island.
Here are the most prominent players:
This U.K.-based company offers two week-long cycling itineraries: The Central Cuba Bike Ride and the Western Cuba Bike Ride. It uses its own fleet of more than 120 imported bikes and has its own Havana office.
• Wow Cuba
This family-run Canadian company is a branch of MacQueen’s Island Tours, based in Prince Edward Island. It has specialized in cycle tours to Cuba since 1994. It, too, has an office in Havana, staffed by Kristen MacQueen. It offers one-week bicycle tours December through March, plus an annual “Vuelta Cuba”—a two-week trip from Santiago de Cuba to Havana—in January, as well as many other tours across the spectrum.
Another Canadian company, CanBiCuba, also offers group bicycle tours.
U.K.-based Exodus also has a 15-day circuit of the island, end to end.
As easy as it may be for U.S. citizens to fly to Cuba via Canada, Mexico, or another third country, and then to participate in such tours, it’s important to note that it is not legal for U.S. citizens to participate in any tours of Cuba (or otherwise travel there) unless they are licensed to do so by OFAC.
WowCuba has an information page called “U.S. Tour Participants” that provides illuminating information.
I provide complete information about bicycling and travel in Cuba (including licensing for U.S. citizens) in my Moon Cuba.
For further information on Havana, buy Moon Spotlight Havana.
Buy an autographed hardback copy of Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba direct from the author.
Looking for the perfect coffee-table book gift item? Buy an autographed hardback copy of Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles direct from the author.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale.
The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker.
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker