There’s more to this island nation than cigars and vintage cars. Beyond its cosmopolitan capital are beautiful beaches, historical sites and a lively music scene. Here are photographer Michael Sadowski’s highlights from Intrepid’s Music and Dance tour – the rhythms of Cuban life will surprise you, he says.

1. Havana

Brightly coloured colonial buildings and a retro car driving past in Old Havana – is there a more iconic image of Cuba’s capital? The wonderfully preserved city was given World Heritage status in 1982.

2. Camagüey

Despite its size, Cuba’s third-largest city has managed to retain much of its colonial past and exploring its winding cobbled streets is a lot of fun. It’s common to see kids playing a casual game of football. 

3. Ballet de Camagüey

Camagüey is home to one of the country’s most important dance companies, Ballet de Camagüey. Here, a dancer gives a demonstration at the school.

4. Santiago de Cuba

With its strong Afro-Cuban roots, Santiago de Cuba was instrumental in the birth of traditional Son music, a mix of Spanish guitar and African percussion. It’s also known as the republic’s Hero City for its leading role in significant events during the revolution of 1953-59.

5. Trinidad beach sunset

Trinidad has some of Cuba’s best beaches. The white sand and warm water beckon you to spend a day or two, sipping on a mojito.

6. Trinidad

A perfectly preserved colonial city, Trinidad is another World Heritage site and a favourite among travellers. The town rose to prominence during the sugar boom and the wealth from the industry can be seen in its once-grand mansions.

7. The locals

It’s well known that Cubans are some of the friendliest people a traveller will meet – they are vivacious and generous and many enjoy the taste of a Cuban cigar.

8. Salsa class, Trinidad

Modern Cuba is a fascinating tapestry of cultural influences, though the salsa is arguably the most famous of Latin American styles. Dancing is a national pastime – and there’s no escaping it.

9. Street art

Ernesto “Che” Guevara was a key revolutionary figure and his image is everywhere in Cuba. You can visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, the first major city to be liberated by Fidel Castro’s army in 1958.

Photography by Michael Sadowski 

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