With countless pristine beaches, mountainous forests and vibrant cities all waiting to be explored, Cuba is much more than a generic Caribbean island getaway. The cocktails may surpass the food, and being the largest island in the Caribbean, getting around might be slightly more difficult, but what it lacks in polish it more than makes up for in captivating history, laid back charm and swinging salsa rhythms.

Time warped by its revolution, it feels like this is a sunny isle of contrasts. Historic Havana and Trinidad have undergone painstaking restoration and preservation; walking around them is like a trip back in time. At night, these and other cities like Santiago de Cuba, explode into a music- and rum-fuelled fiesta. Staying at a casa particular (a private home with rooms to rent) gives the traveller a glimpse at life for the average Cubano, and opens up parts of the country (but more importantly the local psyche) that were once off-limits.

Pure island indulgence lies at many of the gleaming resorts punctuating Cuba's glorious coastline, and, across the island, party-hungry travellers can delve head first into the music, dance and cocktails for which the country is internationally renowned.

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