Cuba: a land quite like no other. With this trip, combining Cuban cultural immersion and learning Spanish, you can find out first hand just why so many people regard this diverse country as the jewel of the Caribbean! While most visitors will only ever experience Havana and the local area, you’ll get to see everything, from the bustling streets of the capital through to the rural areas, as well as have the chance to visit UNESCO sites, beautiful beaches and vibrant bars and clubs. There truly is something for everyone in this mesmerising country, and we’ve packaged all the best bits up into this trip!
Xtreme Cuba Experience: Trip Highlights
Based in Habava the program includes accommodation, breakfast & lunch, intensive Spanish lessons, cultural excursions, volunteer placements and escorted weekend trips to the beach. Also includes a 2 week volunteer placement in Playa Giron and weekend excursion to Vinales.
- Exploring this wonderful Caribbean country
- Learning Spanish with up to 80 hours of Spanish lessons
- Cruising through Havana in 1950s cars
- Exploring the culture and history of this incredible country
- Seeing what life is like living in the world last Communist states
- Gaining impressive Cuban salsa moves with included dancing lessons and other cultural activities
- Trips to the Caribbean beaches
Xtreme Cuba Experience Photos
Xtreme Cuba Experience: Full Details
Xtreme Cuba Experience
Based in the heart of Old Havana, enjoy a full cultural immersion to understand and enjoy one of the most exciting and misunderstood countries on the planet.
Our programs combine accommodation, breakfast & lunch, Spanish lessons, dance lessons, ‘Discover Cuba’ cultural excursions, volunteering, cross country trips, weekend excursions and activities… our objective is that you have an amazing time getting to know and enjoy this incredible country.
Much of the time in Havana will be spent learning Spanish, and you will be given 3 x 45-minute lessons every weekday. Don’t worry though, it’s not like school the lessons are informal and delivered by local teachers! The lessons are tailored to your level as well, with a test at the beginning of the program used to establish what you need to be taught. You’ll be in small classes too, with about 6-8 pupils being the maximum.
You won’t just be learning the language in Havana though ” you’ll be learning the culture and traditions as well, and what is more Cuban than throwing your hair back and taking to the dance floor? Cubans love to dance, and you’ll get a couple of dance lessons each week to learn the basics of dances such as the cha cha cha, rumba and, of course, salsa. Okay, you won’t be an expert when you leave, but you’ll impress everyone when you get back home! You might even impress some of the locals with your moves when you head to one of the many different vibrant music venues throughout the city in the evening!
On Saturday or Sundays in Havana you’ll have the chance to get involved with the arts and crafts initiative on the Paseo del Prado Boulevard. Artists set up workshops to share their creative talent, teaching children for free. There are 40 or more artists and literally hundreds of children drawing and painting using all manner of waste materials into sculptures and imaginative objects.
Projects We Involved With
The itinerary sections breaks down some of the different projects you may be involved with on this programme.
There are 2 dance classes per week – each approximately one hour duration, during which you will be taken through your paces learning Salsa, Son, Rueda de Casino, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, and Rumba and perhaps a few moves you haven’t heard of… The lessons are delivered a short walk from your Casa by a licensed dance instructor, and in the evenings there are MANY free live music venues where you can do your homework!
Each morning Monday to Friday from 09:00-11:45 you will receive 3 x 45 minute intensive structured Spanish lessons (each lesson is followed by a 15 minute break). Tuition is delivered by an accredited and licensed Cuban teacher, and lessons take place in the Casa. On the first morning there will be a short test to establish your level and requirements.
* The Cultural Immersion content will feature additional Spanish language tuition, oral comprehension and dialogue (approx. 4 hours per week).
Rafael Trejo Boxing Gimnasio Project
Boxing is the country’s second favourite sport surpassed only by Cuba’s well- documented passion for baseball. Here the niños begin their training very young.
Here Hector Vinent Charon (a 2 time Olympic gold medalist) trains the niños. He believes that boxing teaches skills such as confidence that children can use in everyday life, regardless of what they may achieve in the gym, “it effects how you act in the classroom or on the street. It’s not just boxing.”
- Despite this upbeat philosophy the Gimnasio looks pretty gloomy and could use a lick of paint. Your first project will be to source paints, brushes and other materials locally to spruce up the outside of the gym. With the help of Vianko, our Director of Arts, and a team of young Cuban helpers, you will paint a colourful collage on the outside of the building, featuring boxers from the club who have gone on to represent their country.
- Time permitting you will also spruce up the interior walls and start to repair various sections of the stadium seating. The club is functional, but with a bit of work and effort it could be a much more inspiring.
Most famous for the baseball players it has produced this public sports facility hosts several different schools, sports clubs and all the community centres in La Habana, making it an extremely important and well used facility.
We will focus primarily on the dug-outs for the baseball teams, these over-used facilities have become derelict and in need of renovation. We will finish the project by hosting a match against one of the junior sides when team Leap can see how they fare against some of the most talented junior players in the world.
‘Arco Iris’ is a community centre in a particularly run down area between Old Havana and Centro. The centre is a ‘home away from home’ for kids whose domestic circumstances are difficult. As well as hands on renovation to make this building fit for purpose, you will help pack the centre with activities – after school homework supervision, academic classes e.g. teaching English, arts and crafts activities and drama and music. It will be a privilege to work with such a group of fun loving kids and local people who are trying to create something special where they live.
- You’ll be working to inject new life by painting murals, construction, after school activities like home work supervision, arts and crafts and eventually drama and music shows.
After the first two weeks in Havana, it’s time to head to Playa Giron and nearby Punta Perdiz, 200km south-east from Havana, world renowned because of the ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion in April 1961. Punta Perdiz is adjacent to the Zapata Peninsula, where lies the ‘Gran Parque Natural Montemar’, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It contains the largest wetlands in the Caribbean, home to flamingos, manatee, crocodiles and the world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird. Here your time will be split between helping the Cuban Red Cross and local International Diving Centre protect this area and manage tourism sustainably and responsibly.
- You’ll help clean up a section of the reef and beach, which are prone to picking up discarded and wind blow rubbish. You can do this whilst snorkelling.
- You’ll also participate in underwater surveys to log certain species that may be in danger, changes to reefs and rates of growth, and to examine the Lion Fish epidemic that is becoming quite a problem across the Caribbean.
Both projects help to improve the environment and marine life for future generations.
Onshore at Punta Perdiz ‘Campismo’, we are renovating the sport and recreational facilities with a good lick of paint and with new sports equipment. Basketballs, volleyballs, nets and bibs etc will be provided to encourage local games and good team spirit. Until recently Cubans have not been allowed to mix with tourists (unless they work in the tourism sector) so they are super excited to meet us.
- Each volunteer group will undertake to renovate a different part of the ‘Campismo‘ thus paving the way for the next group and leaving a lasting legacy in the form of improved facilities and good memories, ensuring that the Campismo’s are more comfortable for future Cuban families.
We have included weekend activities. First two weekends you will be accompanied on a day trip to a beach directly east of Havana. Journey time is 30 minutes by bus and you will enjoy the exhilarating rollers that break on these pristine sandy beaches.
Third weekend will feature a two-night trip to Viñales, a three-hour drive to the central western region of Cuba. The Viñales Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to the outstanding landscape, traditional architecture and agricultural techniques still used.
You will be staying in ‘Casa Jakera’, a licensed Casa Particulare, sharing a dorm room with other student clients OR upon payment single room supplement you have the option to stay in another nearby Casa with your own room and en suite bathroom. Either way breakfast and lunch are served at Casa Jakera and this will be the hub of program activities, as this is also where Spanish lessons are taken as well as group discussions, planning meetings and impromptu social gatherings.
A Rough Idea of Price
All of our gap year holidays are completely customised to your needs and prices will therefore vary based on things like the time of year and level of accommodation; but we want to give you as good an idea of how much this itinerary will cost.
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- Airport pickup and transfer
- Dinner when on the cultural exchange project
- Approximately 80 hours in Spanish lessons
- Cuban dance lessons twice a week
- Three cultural sessions per week
- Two trips the beach
- A visit to Vinales Valley
- Costs for visas
- Spending money
- Travel insurance
Xtreme Cuba Experience Trip Dates