With No Barriers Youth
No Barriers Youth offers a variety of educational group travel experiences in Cuba designed to immerse participants in the beautiful people and culture while encouraging them to think objectively about the history and current political climate of this controversial country. Participants can:
- Engage with graduate students and professors at the University of Havana and discuss the current evolution of US/Cuba relations
- Tour the Havana Historical Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy a guided tour of the Museum of the Revolution
- Be immersed in Cuba’s urban agriculture movement by visiting the largest organic farm in Havana
- Contribute your time and energy to a self-sustaining eco-community in the Sierra del Rosario UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
- Visit an open-air art gallery devoted to Afro-Cuban culture
From Cuban jazz and cigars, to Castro and Guantanamo Bay, there are a multitude of sights, sounds and topics to engage any student travel group eager to learn about this complex country.
The largest island in the Caribbean, CUBA, is blessed with wonderful people, festive music, and beautiful architecture. Located just 93 miles off the tip of Florida and surrounded by clear blue water, Cuba offers an idyllic setting for a variety of travelers. Along with the rich cultural characteristics, Cuba has a dramatic history filled with prominent world events and provocative political leaders. Today, Cuba is on the verge of profound change as their political structure shifts and their relationship with the west begins to warm. There is no better time to visit Cuba and experience the diversity of their people and culture.
Evening: Board flight to Miami. Upon arrival meet your No Barriers Youth Global Guide and get a good night’s rest.
Morning: Catch charter flight to Havana and meet your No Barriers Youth Expedition Leader and driver. Transfer to your hotel in the historic center of Old Havana.
Afternoon: Welcome lunch at Templete. Free time to rest/explore until dinner.
Evening: Enjoy dinner at an authentic Cuban restaurant in Old Havana.
Morning: Dialogue and exchange with a Cuban historian about colonial Old Havana. Topics will include examining the colonial history of the city, and the successes and challenges of restoration practices. Continue this dialogue while visiting the Cathedral Square, named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Cathedral of Havana built by the Jesuit order; the Square of Arms; the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales; and the Palacio del Segundo Cabo.
Afternoon: Dialogue with historian at the Museum of Revolution, located in the former Presidential Palace, exploring the history of the Cuban Revolution, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban missile crisis, and more. Next take the pedestrian ferry across Havana Bay to the community of Regla, a working-class, Afro-Cuban community with a thriving local culture. You will have a discussion with the hip-hop/jazz duo Obsesión about their experiences and views on race and gender equality in Cuba.
Evening: After dinner attend one of the most traditional and popular ceremonies in Cuba, The Fire of the Cannon at the Fortress of San Carlos de La Cabana where Che Guevara established his headquarters after the Revolution came to power in 1959.
Morning: Visit to the Workshop School in Old Havana. High school graduates enroll in this institution to learn the arts and crafts necessary to authentically restore the ancient buildings of Old Havana. Tour the school and converse with teachers and students.
Afternoon: Engage with Cuban students in the different workshops such as glass work, carpentry, iron work and more. Next we proceed to Café Madrigal for late afternoon (non-alcoholic) cocktails and tapas. Café Madrigal is owned and operated by film director Rafael Rosales. You will be joined by graduate students from the University of Havana in the fields of economics, international relations and law. Students will offer their opinion about everything from higher education to the delicate relationship with the US.
Evening: Visit the Azote de Dulce Maria (Dulce Maria’s rooftop) for dinner in Old Havana. Mingle with this family of musicians, friends and neighbors to hear about their daily lives and dance to Salsa, Son, Rumba, and other popular Cuban rhythms.
Morning: Special presentation on US/Cuba relations by Professor Carlos Alzugaray, of the Center for Hemispheric and United States Studies (CEHSEU), at the University of Havana. He is a Cuban diplomat and scholar with 40 years of experience representing the Cuban government around the world.
Afternoon: Visit with Jose Fuster, one of the most important Cuban ceramists and painters today. Fuster has turned an entire neighborhood in western Havana into a giant art installation that involves locals and their actual homes as part of the exhibit. He’s trained many neighborhood residents as artisans, especially youth. Then, visit the community-based project Cintio Vitier in Nuevo Vedado neighborhood. This project offers painting, papier-mache, drama, music, dance, and other skill development workshops to elementary and secondary students. Meet with director Pedro Pulido for a presentation on his outreach work in the community of Colon. This is a great opportunity to interact with the kids by drawing, dancing, and playing games with them!
Evening: Enjoy a light dinner and then if you have the energy later in the evening, listen to Latin jazz at Club La Zorra y El Cuervo, Havana’s most famous Jazz club.
Morning: Depart for Las Terrazas eco-community, located in UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Sierra del Rosario in the western province of Pinar del Rio. Tour its rural village called Rancho Curujey while hearing about this self-sustaining community’s goals of reforestation, historical preservation, environmental balance and quality of life. We’ll then visit the local elementary and secondary school to meet students there.
Afternoon: Continue on to La Moka, an ecological hotel with trees growing up through the balconies and ceiling. Have lunch at the Romero vegetarian restaurant specializing in traditional country cuisine. Next we’ll meet with local artists and craft workers in their homes and studios. Later we’ll walk the incredible ruins of a French coffee plantation built in 1801 worked by African slaves. Continue on by bus to Viñales Valley.
Evening: After dinner, group reflection and discussion, journaling about the contrast between rural and urban Cuba and what you have seen and experienced thus far.
Morning: Dialogue and exchange with ecological specialists in the Viñales Valley, containing the most spectacular scenery in Cuba and some of the most interesting and varied geological formations on the island. The valley is particularly famous for its great freestanding rock formations called mogotes. Discussion topics will include environmental heritage, ecological sustainability, and conservation. Later, participate in an exchange with local tobacco farmers to learn about their farming practices.
Afternoon: Dialogue and exchange with Carmen and Caridad Miranda at their botanical and herb garden, called the Vinales Botanical Garden. The two widows maintain a garden full of fruits, orchids and medicinal plants. Participants will be able to ask the pair about ecological sustainability, medicinal plant usage in Cuba, and small businesses, amongst other topics.
Evening: Enjoy traditional Cuban music at Centro Cultural Polo Montañez.
Morning: Return by bus to Havana city and enjoy lunch at a local eatery in Havana.
Afternoon: Enjoy a second exchange with a Cuban historian about the various neighborhoods in Havana we have seen so far, including the Old Havana, Vedado, Central Havana and Miramar neighborhoods. How has the opening up of the housing market affected the different neighborhoods? What changes may be possible in the future? Afterwards, we’ll visit the Callejón de Hamel, an alley where all the buildings display murals inspired by Afro-Cuban culture and religions. We’ll enjoy a Rumba performance and meet with project director and artist Salvador Gonzales Escalona.
Evening: Farewell dinner at one of Havana’s most popular restaurants: El Aljibe. This eatery serves the best Creole food in Cuba! Return to the hotel for some journaling and personal reflection about the trip.
Morning/Afternoon: Depart Havana for Miami. Explore “Little Havana” in Miami if time allows before returning to the airport.
Evening: Depart Miami International Airport. Arrive home inspired and forever changed by your trip to Cuba!
Getting immersed in the culture of India and getting to know and love the children was the greatest. When the students would cling to me at the end of class, and tell me how much they enjoyed having me there was heartbreaking.Rachel W., Student
There is so much life, happening all the time. It's crazy to think that, after only three weeks, I feel like I've become accustomed to so much of how the world move.Saul S., Student
I just wanted to take a moment to formally thank you for another unbelievable and life changing trip. No Barriers Youth made it all possible and took the guesswork out of a potentially nerve wracking and complicated task.Amanda W., Trip Leader
“Every journey starts with a single step.”
Facts & Figures
Special Note: Cuba nationalized approximately $1 billion of U.S. owned property on the island in 1960. In response, the U.S. placed a trade embargo on Cuba.
Protestant, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish, Santeria
Below Poverty Line
Carbon Emissions (%)