How to go to Cuba if you are American

People have asked so many questions about going to Cuba. The big secret is… it isn’t a secret at all! So I want to share it with everyone! 

Flying

Miami airport offers straight flights to Cuba. Flights may also be available in other US cities.  I have also heard of people flying from Canada and Mexico. I used ABC Charters to fly to Havana.

Havana, Cuba Skyline

Havana, Cuba Skyline

Qualifications 

To be eligible to enter Cuba, Americans must meet the criteria for 1 of the 12 categories. If a person does not meet the conditions, they may apply for a license from Office of Foreign Assets Control to travel to Cuba. A rather common category and also the option I met the criteria was ‘support for the Cuban people’ also referred to as, people to people. 

The 12 categories are:

  1.  family visits; 
  2. official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  3.  journalistic activity
  4.  professional research and professional meetings
  5. educational activities
  6. religious activities
  7. public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; 
  8. support for the Cuban people
  9.  humanitarian projects
  10. activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
  11. exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials 
  12. certain authorized export transactions.
Cuban dog wearing glasses

Cuban dog wearing glasses

Jakera Cuba
I was able to meet the People to People criteria because of the educational component Jakera Cuba provided during my stay. My lodging was ar a Casa, other guests had private rooms in an apartment style home and a hostel style accommodation was also available. 

The cost for a 7 day program was $350- $400. This included lodging and as I mentioned, 2 home cooked meals each day.  

There were also longer programs available. For 2 weeks or more, and visited other cities, like Varadero. I met a couple people who had been there over a month. 

Apartment style lodging

Apartment style lodging

Cuban Streets in Havana

Cuban Streets in Havana

What was included: Meals

Breakfast and lunch were provided every day, which was always a home cooked Cuban cuisine. 

Spanish lessons 
Each morning after breakfast, we attended Spanish class. Many days these classes took place as we walked through museums, markets, and the beach. There were different levels of Spanish based on your ability and it was held as a group of 5-12 students from all over the world.  

Our class headed to the beach

Our class headed to the beach

Spanish class touring museums

Spanish class touring museums

Salsa Dancing
A couple evenings during the week, everyone attended Salsa dancing lessons. 

Walking Tours

We went on 3 walking tours of the city, although there was one available each day.  A guide from Jakera would walk the city with us, explaining, teaching and recommending things to us. 

Walking tour around Havana

Walking tour around Havana

Capital Building in Havana

Capital Building in Havana

Transportation 

Airport transfer was included, at no charge. A driver met me at the airport, helped with my luggage and drove me to my Casa. 

Airport Transfer

Airport Transfer

Solo Travelers 

Jakera Cuba was great for solo travelers. I met many people who had traveled by themselves and were having a wonderful time. With all the activities and meals together each day, everyone had a lot of time to socialize and get to know each other. 

To this day, Cuba is still my favorite country! I can’t get over how warm and welcoming everyone was! 

Cruising in a classic convertible

Cruising in a classic convertible

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