(Top image by Vicent Versace)
Shabi Samoohi describes her tours of Cuba as a “portal to another dimension, one that is free-spirited, safe, wholly unabashed and, at all times, welcoming and rewarding to the adventurous.” Touring Cuba is now within legal reach for U.S. citizens under the category, “people-to-people exchanges”, as Shabi and her company, Cultural Island Travel, offer unique and meaningful cultural exchanges with locals. Shabi’s custom itineraries take guests across the island – from the bustling Havana, to the tobacco farms of Pinar Del Rio, to the emerald waterfalls of Trinidad – and leave them with an authentic Cuban experience.
Shabi immediately fell in love with Cuba in 1999 after her first visit as a student. The lore of Cuba lead her to master Cuban dance and become involved in the Cuban musical scene when she returned to her home state, New York. As founder of Direct from Cuba, Shabi has been working directly with the top Cuban Musicians to organize concerts in the US since 2005, and has close ties with the rich music, dance and visual arts scene of the country. Because of this connection, her guests have exclusive opportunities such as attending a private concert with an award winning Cuban musician, dancing with the Santa Amalia – a senior jazz and tap dance group, or hearing firsthand stories on car restoration from a local mechanic.
Learn more about Shabi in the 2017 S&S Profile.