After more than half a century of being off-limits to Americans (what missile crisis?), Cuba has quickly become the hot spot to visit. Just 90 miles off the coast of Florida, the communist country has many tour operators racing to fulfill U.S. regulations for travel. In 2011, President Barak Obama began easing tensions with Cuba by allowing “people-to-people” type trips. In January, he further opened the door to Cuba by adding 12 new categories—including religious, academic and humanitarian work—as authorized reasons to book a flight.
Tourism for tourism’s sake—think sun, sand, and salsa—is not officially an option for Americans who want to discover this once-forbidden Caribbean gem. Some savvy travel companies, however, have found a loophole, offering government-approved cultural exchange activities couched in adventure.
Here are cinco ways to lawfully see Cuba for the first time. Make sure to pack your Mastercard: It’s the only U.S. credit card accepted (since March 2015) in Cuba at the moment.
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