This alligator-shaped island is all about mountain ranges and plains, stunning beaches, history, culture and frenzied nightlife that continues into the wee hours.
Cuba is also about Cohiba cigars and classic cars. On tap at Havana's Automobile Deposit Museum are such perfectly preserved "wheels" as a 1930 Cadillac V-16, a 1926 Rolls Royce and a 1980 Daimler donated by the British Embassy.
Old Havana is slowly but surely being restored into a mesmerizing museum of Spanish Empire architecture and gardening. Former Hispanic palaces are being re-invented as multi-starred resort-hotels. Alongside all these are the haunts of US sportsman/writer, "Papa" Ernest Hemingway. Have a Mojito (means little monkey) at La Bodeguita del Medio and then write your name on walls that already boast scores of signatures of literati - past, present and future. For the best daiquiris in town, Hemingway recommended La Floridita - and it's still there.
Hemingway's writing studio on the fifth floor of the Hotel Ambos Mundos has been set up as a tourist attraction. You can sit at his typewriter, gaze out his balcony and pretend to see the writer's yacht Pilar anchored just below in the harbour. You will be accompanied by security lest you are tempted to pinch one of Hemingway's toys, such as the much-admired model of the Pilar. Next, re-board the hotel's antique birdcage lift and go to the top floor. Hemingway no doubt liked the Ambos Mundos best for its well-stocked grog shop where you could get stuff for drinks fortified with what the hotel brochure called "the zest of Cuban limes, the glow of Cuban rum, and the sweetness of Cuban cane." To really understand the edgy lifestyle of America's best-known scribe, go see his beautifully preserved estate just outside Havana. It comprises Hemingway's beloved Pilar, as well as a special cemetery for the man's best friends - canines, that is.
As you read, Cuba is busy 24/7 building big new marinas for big new yachts, a host of classy waterfront hotels, and several tropical island hideaways of four-star quality. A must-see is the Tropicana, billed as "Paradise Under The Stars." The Tropicana comprises acres and acres of rainforest greenery and blooms serenaded by music that's as loud as it is good. Scores of some of the world's most attractive men and women display their talents in the cabaret show on a huge, cobweb-shaped stage.
Due to more than five centuries of racial diversity, the well-educated Cubans are among the most attractive people in the Caribbean. And there are lots of them. The total Cuban population is around 11 million. To see as many of them as possible you must travel about a bit. Cuba is huge, about as big as all the other Caribbean islands laid end to end.
After Havana, the largest city is Santiago. It features whimsical, highly unusual - and very Caribbean - architecture and art galleries. It's the cat's meow when it comes to history, hostelries, horticulture and the tropical atmosphere usually available only in books.
Cuba's No 1 tourist magnet is Varadero Beach. Like Florida, Varadero is a sun-kissed peninsula with long, lonely beaches by the dozens. The Duponts had a Varadero villa during the 1950s salad days of Cuban tourism. The former Dupont digs are now beautifully refurbished and appropriately named Xanadu.