Cuba is vibrant and captivating! It constantly feels like you’re on a the set of a movie. Unexpected and amazing sights are around every corner and flowing from the streets. Always have your camera ready because you never know what you’ll be seeing next!
The most expected and accepted type of payment is cash. Credit cards can be used at ATM’s but it’s not very common for businesses to accept them. And NOBODY wants to miss out on fresh churros from the push cart on the street! So carry cash!
Local banks exchange Euros at a reasonable rate. I wouldn’t recommend arriving with US dollars, it will be more difficult to exchange. The local people use CUP which is a different currency than used by tourists, who use CUC’s.
It’s not advisable to drink the tap water. Bottles of water are fairly easy to come by and typically sold for a low price. Carrying a water bottle with you at all times is a pretty good idea, you never know when water won’t be available and the last thing you want is dehydration and sickness while traveling!
Carry tissues or toilet paper. Seeing a restroom with a supply of toilet paper was a rarity. Many public restrooms have attendants at the door charging to use the facilities. Your payment typically includes a rationed amount toilet paper of a few squares.
Bring hand sanitizer. Just like I mentioned the lack of toilet paper, the same is true for hand soap. Most public restrooms do not supply it. High end hotels usually have nicer bathroom facilities, including soap and toilet paper.
4. Cell Service & Wifi
One cell service provider is available in Cuba. I came with AT&T and wasn’t able to use my phone at all. A friend was using Verizon, she was able to send and receive calls and texts the entire time.
There is only one cell service provider, Ectesa. Sim cards can be purchased at the Ectesa store. The line was always out the door to get in. My wait was about an hour which included a lot of pushing and standing my ground, not to let others cut in front of me. The Sim Card was around $10 US and a passport was required in order to purchase the card. $10 credit gave me 8 minutes to call the US.
Wifi was a bit confusing. A local guy directed me a bit and showed me where to purchase a WiFi card. The card was $3 CUC which was Internet access for 1 hour.
Wifi Hotspots were located at some hotels and parks. Access was good, but it wasn’t strong enough to load/upload Snapchats.
You never know when a passport might be needed. For example, some museums and attractions require passport information to enter. In Cuba, passports are required to exchange money or buy a SIM card. Not to mention the safety reasons of carrying identification.
Travel programs and agents will highly recommend purchasing coverage before traveling to Cuba. The program I went with, Jakera Cuba, was adamant that I needed it.
It was around $8 for a week of insurance. Ironically, my friend had an allergic breakout while we were there and had to be treated at the hospital. Good thing we purchased travel insurance!
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!
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.
I can say wholeheartedly, that I absolutely loved Cuba. Last month I stayed in Havana for a week and I still look at the pictures over and over. The colors were amazing, the cars were surreal and the people were absolutely delightful. I can’t get over it. I’ll need to return soon!
Until then here are my favorite photos to inspire you to see it for yourself.
This Spring, I visited Havana, Cuba with Jakera. During my stay I lived, learned, ate and interacted with many of the locals.
My program provided lodging, meals, Spanish classes and local activities. I stayed in a Casa Particular with a very friendly host family, who all happened to be named Patricia – grandmother, mother and daughter.
Every morning at the Jakera house, we had homemade Cuban breakfast prepared for us. Breakfast was followed by a three-hour interactive Spanish class and then we had a home cooked lunch. During class we walked around the city, visited museums and even the beach. It was a truly magical experience!
For those who haven’t been to Cuba this list will help you prepare for the ups and the downs. And for those who have been, this should be a reminder why Cuba is so great!
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Cruise around in a convertible
Rent a drop-top from Ace Rent A Car, crank the tunes and pick up some friends!
We had a blast cruising around with the wind whipping in our hair. Got a little sunburn but nothing beats belting out Journey at the top of your lungs.