Happy Sunday! Is Cuba on your bucket list of places to travel to? It was definitely on mine. I am finally getting around to finishing a few posts about our trip to Cuba (yes it has been a month), I can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Here is a list of tips for those of you interested in traveling to Cuba but are holding back because you don’t know what to expect. I hope this list puts you at ease a little bit.
- Tour – As of November 2017, Americans are no longer allowed to travel to Cuba on their own. However, they can visit Cuba without prior and specific permission and special licenses if they engage a people-to-people tour operator based in the US that is responsible for creating a full-time itinerary for the travelers. For more information click here.
- Visa – you do not need to purchase your visa prior to your trip. You can purchase it from your airline when you are checking in. We flew Jet Blue from Fort Lauderdale, Fl to Havana and purchased our visas for $50 each at the ticket counter. There are two parts to the visa, the first is taken by customs when you depart for Cuba. Do not lose the second visa – you must keep it on hand until your departure.
- Cash – Bring cash with you. You cannot buy Cuban currency before you arrive and credit cards are not accepted, so you must travel with your cash on you. You can exchange your US Dollars to CUC at the airport (you can also exchange at your hotel, but I recommend doing so at the airport). Cuba has two currencies, the CUP and CUC. CUP is the Cuban Peso which is used by citizens of Cuba. CUC is the Cuban convertible peso, the currency that you will use during your stay in Cuba.
- The People – The people are incredibly friendly, helpful and generous. As you explore Old Havana you will come across women in bright colored rumba dresses looking for a kiss from the men or to give the women a flower or sidewalk musicians. If you stop to listen, take a kiss or a flower, or snap a picture, be prepared to offer them a tip; the tip isn’t really at your will but an unspoken rule.
- WiFi – Cell service in Cuba is spotty at best. You will not have service or data while exploring the city. Our hotel gave us a 5-hour wifi card to use during our stay. If you need to, you can purchase additional wifi time from the hotel.
- Gifts – Cuba is an incredibly poor country. If you have a chance to communicate with your tour guide prior to your arrival, I would find out if there is anything you can bring with you to donate to the Cuban people (soccer balls, clothes, pens, pencils, notebooks for school, etc…
- Eat – There aren’t any storefronts in Havana. Restaurants are hidden and randomly placed throughout the city. You might think you are walking into someone’s home rather than a restaurant. Make reservations prior to your arrival (your tour company will help you with this). Most restaurants are government owned ‘cafeterias’ so you want to scope out and eat at the privately owned restaurants – they have better quality food and more variety.
Let me know if you have