Hi all! My name is Jess Rolstone from Life of Yessa. I’m a Cuban-American living in Michigan. I split my time between the US and Cuba. In this travel guide I would like to introduce you to the authentic town of Vinales and share my experiences and recommendations for The Vinales Experience.
I have been traveling back and forth to Cuba with my parents since I was five and have always been one to take on new adventures. My dad’s side of the family still lives in Havana. We have a family home we love to visit often.
Life of Yessa was created while documenting my trips for fun until I saw others wanting to follow my journey for tips/tricks on travel to Cuba. There are a lot of misconceptions around traveling to Cuba from the US.
It’s amazing to have the opportunity to educate my audience on what it’s actually like to travel to Cuba. Life of Yessa is now going on year four and has transformed into a brand that revolves around travel, culture and mindfulness with a Latina twist! You can read about my travels here.
Visiting Friends and Family in Cuba
When I travel to Cuba, I usually go for at least five days to see my friends and family and to taste my favorite foods. Havana has always had a special place in my heart and I go back as often as possible every year. If you are a solo traveler or looking for a family vacation, Cuba has so much to offer!
I love taking in the culture and always leave with the mindset that it’s possible to be happy and content with everything that you already have in life. The Cuban people create the most vibrant and welcoming atmosphere for tourists and they are always happy to share their stories with you.
While in Havana, my friends and family explore different restaurants and luxuries with me that they don’t get to experience while I am in the United States. Whenever I visit Cuba, I do my best to cover the fascinating culture and major touristy spots all in one take for my audience at Life of Yessa.
The Vinales Experience in Cuba
I went to Vinales for the first time at eight years old and returned recently in 2019. During my last trip, I booked with The Vinales Experience (learn more here) owned by Cassie and her family. We met her family on the farm and they welcomed us with open arms as every Cuban family would.
We started off the day by getting picked up in Havana in a classic car and took a two and a half hour drive into the countryside. Once we arrived in Vinales, we were greeted by horses and began our ride into the mountains.
When we arrived at the farm, the first thing we were taught was all about the craft of Cuban cigars from start to finish. We got to see and hear about the entire process and we even learned how to properly roll our own cigars.
Cuba is also well known for their strong and delicious coffee which we got to see made and even took our own fresh coffee beans back home to Havana with us. After we learned the ins and outs of the farm’s daily life, we were fed authentic Cuban food which was amazing and fresh.
We were lucky enough to spend extra time with the whole family because most of them spoke great English! We got to hear about the history of Vinales, how their family passes the land down from generation to generation and what it’s like owning such important farm land in Cuba.
Why Choose the Vinales Experience?
Vinales is the perfect place to take a step back from the daily hustle and bustle and connect with nature and the beauty Cuba has to offer. When in Vinales, horseback riding is a must through the mountains and I would even recommend staying in an Airbnb that gives access to them.
Booking a tour with The Vinales Experience is fantastic because they offer a variety of options to choose from and are fully compliant with the US visa requirements for legal travel to Cuba. From exploring caves to rolling your own cigars, you will truly be exposed to the real farming experience.
Need to Know Before you Go
When visiting Vinales, I recommend wearing comfortable clothes because you will be very active and it can get hot! I also strongly suggest buying cigars and coffee directly from a farm in Vinales because it goes directly to the farmers rather than buying them at the airport or your hotel. Thanks for reading everyone and enjoy your trip to Western Cuba!