Nightfall in Havana Cuba

cubans buying food at night havana cuba

Nightfall in Havana, Cuba

When the light fades in Havana and the mercury drops a notch, Havana takes on a distinctly different character.

The streets, normally so full of people and scorching hot, are now largely empty. The flicker from the television sets in the houses cast a bluish glow on the threadbare curtains on the windows, like a strange deep sea jellyfish. Some streets remain brightly lit, whilst yet many others are now cast into shadow, with dim streetlights spaced well apart. The potholes and puddles in the streets have now disappeared into the darkness, until you inadvertently step into one.

The chatter from houses either side of the streets tell of families gathered round dinner tables, television sets and domino games. Brief bouts of laughter punctuate the otherwise still night. The fragrant smell of cigar smoke can also be smelt coming from the windows and balconies of the houses.


In the darkness, I still hear bicitaxi (bicycle taxis) riders touting their services, always promising a ‘special price’. Although dark and run down, the streets do not have a threatening air about them, more like someone turned off the lights on Daytime Havana and the volume down to a whisper. Like an unruly child asleep.

I love the shadows cast by the disparate light sources at night in the streets of Havana. The already heavily textured walls and buildings of the city take on a new layer of mystery and suspense. Characters casting long shadows on the uneven ground dart and disappear around corners into the pools of darkness, adding to the drama of the scene.

In each city that I visit, I make it a point to experience both the daytime atmosphere as well as the ‘night life’ and Havana has certainly not disappointed with her offerings.

See the rest of my photos from Cuba with the Fujifilm X-Pro1

streetlights at night havana cuba

twilight in havana cuba

vintage car in the street havana cuba

people on the streets at night havana cuba
Portrait of cuban man, night in havana cuba
bicycle taxi with neon lights havana cuba
security guard behind the gate havana cuba

I left my job as an advertising Creative Director in August 2012 to travel Africa and South America for a year with my wife, documenting these beautiful places with my Fuji X-Pro1. View the rest of my RTW adventures on Handcarry Only and follow me on my journey by subscribing/following/bookmarking.

  • Jimmers

    It’s hard to believe at one time Havana was “like” a small Las Vegas. Hope it returns to be a great city once again. –Jimmers

    • Adrian Seah

      I hope so too, I recently read that the dual currency system will gradually be phased out. I think that’s a great thing as its clearly not working and simply creating a two tier society, already mired with enough inequality. Hopefully this is the start of a long road to eventual ‘recovery’.

  • Rhonda Albom

    Stunning photos. I have never been to Cuba, but I would have imagined it much different, with crowded busy streets in the evenings as well.

    • Adrian Seah

      Hi Rhonda, Its a fascinating city, with many layers to uncover. Some streets are still busy whilst others are in darkness. I love the contrast!

  • Jennifer Dombrowski

    I definitely imagined Cuba as busy at nighttime. I ‘m surprised to learn the streets are quite the opposite.

    • Adrian Seah

      I guess it really depends on where you are in the city, what I really love about it is that the sound of music (live or otherwise) is always somewhere in the air, round each corner. It really sums up the spirit of the city!

  • Hakan

    Your nightfall pictures from Cuba are the most beautiful I’ve seen from your entire trip. Lately, I’ve been reading too many pixel peeping, gear discussing sites – it’s a relief to visit your site and see a photographer who knows how to use his equipment to create beautiful pictures.

    All the best,

    • Adrian Seah

      Hey Hakan, thanks so much for your kind words :) I know what you mean, I sometimes find it disheartening to visit the camera/photo forums only to hear people discuss MTF curves and debate the minutiae of differences of sharpness between various (very capable) lenses. I think having limitations spurs creativity, it makes you think of ways to get the best image out of what you have, instead of constantly longing for that extra feature that might ‘make you a better photographer’

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