Lower Price to Reserve Your Spot!

 
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We recently ran a poll over our Instagram to get an idea of what the reasons that restrict people from traveling. With busy schedules, budgets, asking for time off from work, etc it gets tricky. It’s easy to forget that the truth is…travel is a luxury! So we might not all have the same opportunity as others to travel.

We were not surprised when we saw the main reason was cost at 78%. This got us thinking we need to rethink our pricing schedule. We decided to lower the reservation price to $550 instead of $1000. This way it makes it easier to pay over time. The second payment of $550 is collected a month later. The final balance is due 45 days out before a trip. This gives you more time to plan and budget into your normal spending. We’d also like to thank you at this time for understanding our price includes a very personal service you would not normally receive traveling on your own or relying on random lists found on Pinterest or Yelp. Plus, we work with a local on-the-ground team that work their ass off to help make our trips amazing. We pride ourselves on paying them a wage that is a reflection of their dedication and hard work.

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Timing was the second biggest reason. With everyones (including our own) crazy schedules, we totally get it. Our dates don’t work for everyone. Our solution? Simple… we’ll plan you the private trip of your dreams at your dates and at your budget! That being said though…let’s all make more time for travel. Whether it’s with us or on your own anywhere, even a simple weekend getaway will soothe your soul. We need to step back and refresh. Americans are known to be terrible at remembering to pump the breaks and give ourselves a break!

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Last but not least, we thought maybe your friends might not be into traveling. Good news is this was NOT the case. So yay for having rad and fun friends ready for a travel adventure!

What Do We Mean by "Live Like a Local"?

 
Photo by  Sabrina Hounshell  on our trip, January 2019

Photo by Sabrina Hounshell on our trip, January 2019

So what does it really mean when we say “live like a local”? We obviously can’t be locals everywhere and we don’t claim to be! Back in 2012 when I was first trying to make this business idea into a reality, I was chatting with a good friend of mine and the tagline “live like a local” came up after talking about the way we liked to travel. I wanted to create trips that felt as though your friends (that were locals) from each destination were the ones showing you around. Being taken around your friend’s hometown or country always felt WAY more fun and meaningful than just researching online and crossing your fingers. This is actually how I got the idea to start Coast to Costa in the first place.

I started this dream job in 2012 but the real beginnings were in 2004 when I went to live in Spain. I had never really enjoyed college or knew what the hell I wanted to do, so I decided to take three months off and learn Spanish in Sevilla, Spain. I totally fell in love with everything about living over there and I ended up living in Spain for 4 years (and Italy for a year). When I came back to the US, I was living in San Francisco and working at a Catalan restaurant. I would always go back to Spain and bring groups of friends along. In Spain friends of mine who were chefs and bartenders began to open their own spots. I would have them show us around and "guide" us. This led to not only the best restaurants but that rad little hole in the wall club where we danced our butts off til the early morning. Our original itineraries were led by friends of mine from my time living in Spain and friends I had made at the restaurant in SF that were wine makers, cheese mongers and ham (jamón is the best) purveyors. When I put all of these friends together, I realized I had a whole food and wine itinerary in and around the places in Spain that I loved. We have taken this original model and applied it to all of the destinations that we travel to.

Fernando (our trip host) and I in Cusco, Photo by  Juan Bustabad

Fernando (our trip host) and I in Cusco, Photo by Juan Bustabad

When we say “live like a local”, we aren’t trying to say you’re going to become a local in days or that there’s any shame in being a tourist. Being an American traveling abroad comes with many privileges that we’re aware of and thankful for. Without actually being a local theres no way to fully see the complete in and outs, good and bad of a country. We aren’t trying to minimized or downplay that. We are solely trying to highlight that we have developed amazing relationships with all of the people we work with in all of our destinations. I have learned that making friends and working with those friends ensures the best possible travel experience everywhere that we travel. When choosing new destinations, we'll always choose places that I have lived, have spent time in or places where I have good friendships with key people to show our travelers around. Each trip is completely led by friends (who have now become family) of ours that do the best job. I choose them to bring us into THEIR world and to show us THEIR culture.

When we started this adventure 7 years ago, there were not a lot of people offering these authentic, locally guided travel experiences. It seems like nowadays, there’s a lot of companies saying the same things. What I can tell you is after 200 + trips that we've organized and led, we can honestly say that when you come on our trips, you truly live like a local. Our local friends and family in each destination guarantee it!

 

Yes, It's Still Legal to Travel to Cuba!

Hi Coast to Costa familia!

Just a few days ago, I was with an amazing group of people for one of our trips in Peru. We were high up in the mountains doing a hike with a shaman friend of ours when I got a text from Natalie about the new travel restrictions to Cuba. Continuing on the hike, I thought about all of the implications of what this ban could mean for us while Natalie researched from home. Luckily, our trips are still 100% legal, safe and also support the amazing locals who make our trips possible! It turned out the focus on working with local small businesses is what makes our trips legal!

So what became illegal as of June 5, 2019? The ban that Trump imposed basically is making people to people/educational travel to Cuba illegal. This is one of the 13 (now 12 legal reasons to travel to Cuba). This also means no more cruise ships, private boats, or private planes. This will affect tourism to Cuba and will greatly hurt the small businesses that began to flourish as tourism regulations were loosened under Obama. This is not kind nor fair for the people of Cuba. Right after the news broke we checked in with one of our trip hosts, Thalia, who was so disappointed to hear the news. After lots of mad and sad face emojis, she texted this “ it affects me because I live, eat, dress, and breath thanks to tour guiding. Cuban families were getting more income thus making their families happier! I have a 4 year old to support, but how am I supposed to do this if there are no clients?!”. Her sentiments were echoed throughout the other people we work with in Cuba.

We at Coast to Costa pride ourselves on ONLY working with private, small businesses and individuals. It's something that we've always just preferred doing. We prefer the one on one attention of a small business. We love our guides and want to know them and their families personally. We think a lot of big businesses suck and treat their workers poorly, so we like to work directly with the workers. We ARE small business!! Since we only work with locals and NEVER with the Cuban government, our trips are safe from this new ban. They are 100% legal, super fun and the money goes directly to families and individuals that we work with. Only. Always. Our trips to Cuba will continue to go on as before. We will keep working with the hard working entrepreneurs that we’ve always worked with and this administration will not stop that nor limit us from visiting parts of the world! 

Thank you all for your continued support. If you have any questions about travel to Cuba, please let us know. Seriously, you can even call or text! We can help steer you in the right direction and make sure you are traveling to Cuba correctly and legally. You guys are the bomb. For even more info you can visit the US Treasury website here. As this affects our business and the livelihood of our team in Cuba, we will always keep everyone up to date with any new changes (good or bad)! Don't let a bully dissuade you from seeing the world and interacting with some truly amazing people! 

Bridges. Not walls. 

Abrazos,

Andrew Tyree

Founder

How Machu Picchu Woke My Ass Up!

 
Photo by Marcella Winograd on our trip, February 2019

Photo by Marcella Winograd on our trip, February 2019

I wanted to write all about something really amazing that happened to me in my life. For those of you who know me, I'm not what'd you'd call a very sporty nor outdoorsy kind of guy. Don't get me wrong, I love being outside. I love the beach. I love beautiful mountains and can appreciate nature with the best of them. The thing is, I'm not very typically, like active in said outdoor spots.

Historically, you could find Andrew Tyree enjoying the outdoors sitting down! Preferably with a drink and a cig...yeah, I know. I smoked cigarettes for far too long. Wait, wait, keep the judgement down and bear with me, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Brief history, after leaving college not knowing what to do, young me moved abroad from San Francisco to Seville, Spain. Already dabbling in the "cancer sticks", I moved to smokeland! Needless to stay, it stuck. After moving back to SF, and getting tired of feeling gross from them, I had a good friend, Courtney Moore (hit her up @mission_intuition for body work and healing), gave me acupuncture. It helped me QUIT those damn things, except I let myself cheat whenever I was traveling. Fast forward to my first hike to Machu Picchu in April of 2018. See, I told you I was getting ahead of myself. As the owner of this company, the fearless leader of our group, I was determined to just be totally fine with hiking at nearly 8,000 ft above sea level with never training. Man, was I wrong.

Photo by Marcella Winograd on our trip, February 2019

Photo by Marcella Winograd on our trip, February 2019

Brief history, after leaving college not knowing what to do, young me moved abroad from San Francisco to Seville, Spain. Already dabbling in the "cancer sticks", I moved to smokeland! Needless to stay, it stuck. After moving back to SF, and getting tired of feeling gross from them, I had a good friend, Courtney Moore (hit her up @mission_intuition for body work and healing), gave me acupuncture. It helped me QUIT those damn things, except I let myself cheat whenever I was traveling. Fast forward to my first hike to Machu Picchu in April of 2018. See, I told you I was getting ahead of myself. As the owner of this company, the fearless leader of our group, I was determined to just be totally fine with hiking at nearly 8,000 ft above sea level with never training. Man, was I wrong.

The Andes mountains taught me a lesson. A lesson as big and dramatic as the mountains themselves. I need to get myself healthy. I am not going to live forever. I would prefer to live a longer and healthier life than I was living before. After getting my ass thoroughly handed to me (I made it but it was very difficult), I made a pledge to myself to do two things. One, I needed to climb Mt. Washington (a few blocks from where we live in LA) at least three times a week and I was going to quit smoking for good.

I'm happy to report that as of a few months ago, with the help of another friend Joe Homs (shoutout #2, he's super good!), I'm 100% off the cigarettes and I've been hiking up the "mountain" by my house almost every day. Plus, I've learned to appreciate nature in a much healthier way. I feel kind of funny saying this but I've kind of turned into a hiker....it's amazing how life turns out!


 

What to Wear : CUBA

 
Photo by  Jules Appleby  on our trip, March 2018

Photo by Jules Appleby on our trip, March 2018

So you’ve already booked your trip and the countdown is on, but what outfits should you pack? You want to be comfy while looking good. We totally get it! We’ve been visiting since 2015 so we’ve nailed it down for you. We’ll guide you from head to toe.

Hats

Hats are super recommended. This will protect you from the warm, Cuban sun throughout our walks in the city and while we hang beachside. Bring your cutest sunhat, cap, etc.



Sunglasses

Sunglasses are must so don’t forget ‘em! You’ll wanna protect yourself from that bright sun…especially if you’ve had one too many mojitos the night before. We’ve all been there!

Tops

Light breathable fabrics like cotton and linen are your bff here. Cuba is warm, typically in the 80s, so tees and tank tops are advisable. Everyone is usually dressed very casual so you won’t stand out. A light jacket or long sleeve is also advisable for evenings depending on the month you’ll be visiting.

Photo by  Andrea Posadas  on our trip, March 2018

Photo by Andrea Posadas on our trip, March 2018

Dresses

Casual dresses made with a lightweight fabric are perfect, not only for photo ops, but they’re so comfy during a day spent exploring the city. Something a little flowy or loose will be comfortable to walk in under the warm sun.

Bottoms

Shorts for men and women are the way to go! Your favorite denim shorts or something in cotton are great choices. Skirts and light weight pants are other great options. If you’re doing a fancier dinner out, you’ll want to switch out from the shorts into pants, skirt or dress.

Shoes

Think comfy! You’ll be doing a lot of walking. A lot of the roads and sidewalks are uneven or cobble stoned, which will do a number on your feet in heels. We know it sounds cute for that photo with a classic car and if you prefer fashion over function thats totally cool too, but don’t say we didn’t warn ya! We recommend you opt for stylish sandals, flats, or sneakers. You’ll thank us later!

Photo by  Jules Appleby  on our trip, March 2018

Photo by Jules Appleby on our trip, March 2018

Basically, Cuba is very warm so as long as you keep that in mind while packing you’ll be good. Overall, a more casual look will be perfect for your time in Cuba. Bring a nice, “smart casual” outfit or two for a night out or dinner, but other than that casual is the way to go. If you have any more specific questions, shoot us an email.

 

Five reasons why group travel is the most transformative way to see the world

 
Photo by Gabriel Flores

Photo by Gabriel Flores

Explore five surprising examples of why you need to try group travel on your next trip.

By Tyler Anneliese Moselle

The last thing people envision during trip planning is joining a group of strangers.

Lounging in one-of-a-kind accommodations, tracking flight prices, scrolling through amazing cultural sights, never-before eaten foods, and climbing trails through unknown terrain… with people you’ve never met?

But here’s the scoop on what you’ve been missing out on group travel:

1. Join the pack! You’ll make new friends and lifelong connections.

When you mix an international adventure with a curious group of people from all different backgrounds, you encounter unparalleled, valuable moments.

Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment on a Shaman walk to Cusco temples or rolling cigars together in Cuba could spell lifelong bonds

“One thing that I've learned from traveling to different places is that music unites us all. In difficult times or situations, music can bring people together and make them feel better.” -@ktmacaroni on our January trip to Cuba

2. Expand your perspective and skills.

Some travelers—like this writer and traveler Jen Han, love to plan their own adventures.

Han shares — “Usually I like to plan my own travel, but for Cuba, we decided that that going with an experienced guide was the best option. Andrew and his team are fantastic—so fun and knowledgeable. We had the most incredible trip!”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

From our well-traveled team to our international tour guides, you’ll experience a curated trip from a locals’ perspective. Plus you can have your own personal AMA: Ask Andrew Anything!

Through our international community of farmers, chefs, and artisans, you can take a local’s deeper dive into global food, beverages, and crafts.

Once you’re Coast to Costa family, you’ll never come back home the same!

3. Get that photo.

You don’t have to be shy when you want that travel photo of your dreams.

From llama cameos on Machu Picchu to enjoying classic cocktails against beautiful architectural backdrops in Havana: never fear.

You can stay present in the moment without regretting not capturing that perfect moment.

4. Enjoy the journey you want for a better price.

It’s difficult to put a price on world travel, but more accessible travel makes unfeasible vacations possible.

As Coast to Costa Founder, Andrew once put it, “People are able to experience a place in a way that is totally non-touristy, guided but also with free time to explore on their own. Plus, you meet great people along the way to share the experience with.

“One couple got engaged, best friends have been made, and we have follow up parties and get-togethers because everyone REALLY wants to hang out after the trips! It's culture within culture!”

He added, “Even if people don't come with us, our whole mission is to get more people traveling! Book a cheap flight, then save up the money. Book now and figure out the plans and budget later.”

Skip saving for the entire cost of an international trip. With group travel, your costs are divided so you can save that cash for handmade souvenirs, perfecting your Peruvian recipes at home, or your next trip!

Photo by Nicholas Roberts

Photo by Nicholas Roberts

5. Introvert and extrovert-friendly moments

There’s never a dull moment when traveling with a group, but, remember, you can always choose-your-own-adventure at your own pace.

As Antonella Pisani points out, there are plenty of great lifehacks if you’re introverted but want to try your hand at group travel. First, try to identify common interests or hobbies with the group.

Meet talented photographers, writers, and travelers who have a wealth of knowledge.

Nurture your inner creative and hone a new skill! Join us in Cuba in November during three photography walks led by Dan Tom: capture dusk on the Malecon, cityscapes, and architecture, and a nature excursion.

“While your first instinct might be to find a large group where you can become invisible,” Pisani writes, “I’ve had more fun with smaller groups that all share a common interest.”

Maybe arrive a day early, enjoy some occasional me-time with a good novel or noise-canceling headphones, find a new adventure buddy to wander off with, or even FaceTime or use WhatsApp to call a loved one when you need a break. This is your experience and we encourage you to make it your own!

Personally, as an only child and a professional writer, I certainly need my space. I never considered group travel before my Coast to Costa-led trek through the charming vineyard-packed Valle de Guadalupe in Baja Mexico.

When I look back, toasting our border crossing, sharing unveiled surprises, bonding over unreal bites and sips at dinner, and snapping one another’s photos together was the perfect introduction to an unknown world.

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There was something magical about standing in line for our decadent seafood lunch in Ensenada as an ensemble. Taste buds on edge, quietly strategizing what to order, practicing our Spanish—that was the catalyst for the entire trip’s camaraderie and shared wonder.

Ready to add group travel to Cuba or Peru to your bucket list?

Join us on one of our next trips coming up on October 23-30 and Nov 16-23, 2017.

 

Eating Vegetarian “Like a Local” in Cuba

 
Photo by  Gabriel Flores

Written by Tyler Anneliese Moselle

Intrepid vegans and vegetarians: it may be tough, but here’s how to do it.

Savoring local rum, cigars, and vintage cars is surely on your checklist on your trip to Cuba. But how can you enjoy traveling like a local in the country whilst a vegetarian?

Vegetarianism is still not the easiest feat in a country known for abuela’s chicken, roasted pork, classic crusty grilled cubano sandwiches, with a side of rice, beans, and plantains.

We have a few epicurean tips for our veggie-eating friends. Please keep these three recommendations in mind, if you’re an eager traveler looking for vegetarian-friendly options on your visit to Cuba:

  1. Be sure to integrate “sin carne” and “sin jamón” into your Spanish vocabulary. An important phrase when sampling local delicacies sans meat or ham, especially since locals frequently categorize  jamonada (Spam) as a non-meat option.

  2. Embrace rice, beans, eggs, plantains, salad, and pizza. Major staples will be include traditional rice and beans, eggs and omelettes, fried plantain, salads, and, yes, pizzas.

  3. Vegans, hit the paladares*. Vegans are pretty limited when it comes to local Cuban eats that fit their dietary preferences. A paladar, or in-home restaurants, offer guests an opportunity to simply order off-menu. Most spots have rice, black beans, and root vegetables -- potato and malanga--readily available.

Photo by  Gabriel Flores

Paladares

As Saveur points out, “In-home restaurants like Atelier, known as paladares, were legalized in the 1990s but limited by idiosyncratically enforced regulations: a maximum of 12 seats, no beef or lobster, only ingredients purchased at state stores, at least two “family helpers” as staff.”

“Those restaurants that survived despite the restrictions possessed a speakeasy ambiance and exclusively served Cuban food. In 2011, nationwide economic reforms loosened regulations, and in short order, paladares—some selling comparatively exotic Indian or Spanish food—outstripped state-run restaurants in both number and popularity.”

With the reopened American Embassy in Havana and tourists are changing the face of what it means to be a culinary entrepreneur in Cuba. When chefs were accustomed to only limited selections of ingredients just a few years back, now multiple options, like a new variety of fresh produce are available. Revitalized local green markets ( known as agromercados) are flourishing thanks to reorganized farming co-operatives.

Without a wholesale market, however, products can vanish from Cuba’s government-run supermarkets without any notice whatsoever.

So just as vegetarians must be resourceful when it comes to planning their trip to Cuba, chefs are equally creative when it comes to last-second menu substitutions.

 

Not Just Mojitos: What to Drink on Your Visit to Cuba

 
Photo by  Gabriel Flores

Written by Tyler Anneliese Moselle

You’ve landed at Havana Jose Marti International Airport… and whether this is your first visit or your twentieth to the "Pearl Antilles", you’ll notice immediately Cuba and its culture is changing with its new influx of first-time visitors.

There’s rum at every turn, but finding your preference is essential to traveling like a local. Here are seven inspired drinks embedded in Cuba’s epicurean history:

Havana Special

Here’s a libation exclusive to Cuba: white rum, maraschino liqueur, and fresh pineapple juice served straight up with a slice of pineapple or a twist in a highball glass or sometimes a pineapple.

Photo by Stephanie Wang on our March trip

Photo by Stephanie Wang on our March trip

Cuba Libre

Okay, you’ve probably had some version of a rum and coke before, right? Well, the original was born from a toast to Cuba’s independence from Spain in 1900. ¡Por Cuba Libre!

After one of Coca-Cola’s first bottling plants outside of the U.S. closed its doors in Cuba in 1906, Cubans came up with tuKola.

Madrigal Bar Cafe is perfect for citizens of the world visiting for the first time and seasoned locals alike--both unwinding over Cuba Libres.

  • Forget the red Solo cup filled with cheap rum, Coca-Cola, and garnished with a stray Ping-Pong ball of your college days past. The original Rum and Coke has a revolutionary history, born in a celebratory toast between the soldiers of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1900. Captain Russell supposedly ordered a glass of rum with Coke and a wedge of lime, and celebrated the island’s independence against Spain by exclaiming ¡Por Cuba Libre! Ironically, you can’t get American cola in post-Revolution Cuba, so a Cuba Libre in the drink’s home country is made with tuKola: a different caramel-colored soft drink.

Mojitos

Perhaps the most famous—or infamous—Cuban cocktail in the world is the mojito. The present-day international tourist destination La Bodeguita del Medio was once the bar in Havana who helped make this drink a hit. It’s celebrated combination is white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda crushed ice, and fresh mint leaves.

Before coming to prominence during Prohibition, the mojito’s past is unclear. Some people suggest the drink was born as a remedy for scurvy aboard British ships—lime for Vitamin C, mint for easing digestion, and unrefined rum, aguardiente, for water purification. Other folks suggest African slaves came up with the concoction to mask the taste of cheap rum.

Photo by  Kelsi Smith  on our March trip

Photo by Kelsi Smith on our March trip

Rón Collins

While the Tom Collins is a refreshing American creation from 1876 by "the father of American mixology", Jerry Thomas, the Cuban rendition punches it up with white rum. Blended with sugar, lime juice, soda water, and ice makes it equal parts delicious and simple.

Presidente

During the U.S. Prohibition, this popular drink—in both the States and Cuba—was created and named after Cuban president Mario García Menocal. While you’re sure to encounter many original twists on the classic, this local drink calls for dark rum, curacao, white vermouth, and a dash of grenadine. Celebrate history with this ruby-red, lightly sweet elixir.

Canchánchara

Trinidad’s signature canchanchara features a blend of raw rum, honey, fresh squeezed lime or lemon, and water. This cocktail is served in a traditional clay pot with ice and was once considered an elixir of life for Cuban guerillas.

It’s even rumored to have been invented to help soldiers withstand the harsh realities of the Ten Years War.

Photo by  Fresh Off the Grid  on our March trip

Photo by Fresh Off the Grid on our March trip

Daiquiri

The daiquiri wasn’t always a boozy slush akin to a Slurpee.

In the early 20th century, American engineer Jennings Cox created the first daiquiri when improvising a solution for running out of gin for his party guests. He mixed a pitcher of light rum, lime, and sugar and dubbed it after an adjacent community.  

However, the modern daiquiri was established and perfected at Havana’s El Floridita. They replaced sugar with grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur and threw it in a blender. Whether you’re a Hemingway fan or not, the spot known  as the” La Cuna del Daiquiri” worth a visit for a sip of his extra-strength, eponymous “Papa Doble” version.

Want a better taste of Cuba? Join us on one of our next trips coming up in October 10-17 and Nov 21-28, 2017.