This tour takes you into the spanish colonial city of Camaguey. It is about $20/person and a full day excursion. It takes about 2.5 hours to reach the city, but it is so worth it. En route you will stop at a sugar factory ruins, a rum distillery and then on to a church with human catacombs underneath, and then visit every scenic and cultural area of the city. Lunch is included with live music.
Santa Lucia is home to the world's second largest coral reef. It is aprox. 400km long second to the ones in New Zealand I believe ( maybe it's Australia but you get the idea). For $19 a person you can go on a 2 hour coral snorkelling tour. You will be taken out on a motorized catamaran to the coral and provided snorkelling gear. The water is shallow so if you are not a strong swimmer it is ok- as you can touch the ground in lots of spots. There are so barracudas or whatnot but lots of fish from Finding Nemo. We even saw some octupi and eels. Bring bread with you to feed the fish! Non-alchoholic drinks are also provided.
The resorts will allow local merchants on site to sell crafts and souvenirs. There really isn't anywhere else to go to purchase stuff like bracelets and trinkets. So if you see something you like I suggest purchasing it because that merchant will only be there for that day and it will be new ones each day after. They may have the same stuff but sometime the price doubles. Some will haggle for clothing or come down in price but since there is nowhere else to go sometimes you just have to suck it up if you see something you really like.
There really aren't any shops in the area so most of our stuff came from the Duty Free store in the airport. It was cheaply priced and they had a pretty good selection of everything we wanted: rum , coffee, postcards.
We met up with a young man from Montreal that told us he had gotten robbed. He hired a private taxi driver and made the mistake of not settling on a price up front so the driver took him for all he was worth. In Cuba there are two types of money: a local currency and a Cuban convertable peso that is for tourists. The ratio works out that it takes 25 local pesos for one convertable tourist peso. So if you hire a local taxi sometimes if there is a meter it will be in one currency or the other so be sure to ask up front whether they mean convertable pesos or local as the difference can be huge. Also settle on a price up front. I guess you would asssume common sense here but the locals can come across as so accomadating and friendly that you may get taken in like this poor guy did.
There is a disco that the locals and tourists go to that is located on a tennis court of all places. This is a notorious meat market and there is prostitution that goes on. So parents do not let your underage kids go to the disco alone. We saw two 16 year old girls in short spandex dresses hanging out at the disco alone. The resort actually assigned them a Cuban chaperon because they had no clue as to what danger they could get themselves into. You really need to have some brains when spending time in a foreign country.
Luggage and bags:
In the smaller areas clothing is hard to come by so everywhere we went people would ask us for clothing to spare. We actually were able to purchase sovenirs with clothing we had packed specifically to give away.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Things to give away:
~flip flops ( dollarama has some for $1.50)
~any used clothing
~ reusable grocery bags ( nice ones but still the ones that you buy for $1)
~ purses ( I gave our maid a purse that I simply didn't use anymore and she was so grateful and appreciative and to me that purse would've just sat in a closet or gone to Goodwill.