Everything you need to know to prepare your trip
With the right preparation and knowledge, you will quickly realise that not only is it quite easy and safe to navigate through Cuba, but you will most likely have the time of your life doing so!Here are some things you need to know to make your travels to Cuba as amazing and hassle-free as possible.
The primary form of currency you will be using in Cuba is the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC). Convertible Pesos are officially valued as equal to US dollars (one-to-one), however you can expect a 10-11% foreign exchange fee when buying CUC.You will want to buy some Cuban Pesos (CUP) (valued at approx. 1/26 of CUC) for use with local transportation and in street markets and local food vendors.Be careful where you exchange!If you’re going to be exchanging a large number of banknotes, make sure to find a reputable forex institution or bank. Avoid the airport (where the rates are the highest), and avoid money exchanges on the street – they could be scams.
You must have some form of accommodation booked before your arrival to Cuba, as you will need to fill out a visa/tourist card that requires the address of wherever you will be staying.This address must be of a hotel or a licensed casa particular.Keep in mind, you do not have to book accommodation for your entire trip pre-emptively – you can easily book one or two nights somewhere (solely for visa purposes) and determine where you want to spend the rest of your stay once you’re in the country.
If you are not a resident of the United States, the easiest option for travel insurance is to use an insurance service provided by your country of residence. This insurance will then cover any medical expenses that you may incur in Cuba.If you are a United States resident, you will need to acquire a policy through an agency connected to Cuban insurance companies, due to the fact that North American insurance companies are unable to guarantee coverage in Cuba.
If you are not a resident of the United States, travelling to Cuba should be no problem as far as travel regulations go.For U.S citizens, however, travelling to Cuba for the purpose of tourism is illegal. Don’t worry though – it is entirely possible to get to Cuba from the U.S without incident (and the only thing you risk is a fine that can be negotiated down to $1000).The most popular route for U.S citizens to get to Cuba is through Mexico. Mexico does not stamp passports on exit of the country, so you can get in and out of Mexico through Cuba without any evidence of the trip being left on your passport. As long as you remove all HAV luggage tags from your baggage, you should be able to make the trip without incident.
The internet in Cuba is very limited – censorship is prolific, and the lack of modern infrastructure means internet speeds are very poor across the country.Outside of Havana, very few hotels will have Wi-Fi; however you can expect the hotels to provide computers with which you can access e-mail. Do not expect to be able to access many websites, however, as the low amount of available bandwidth may make it impossible for the pages to load.
The weather in Cuba is spectacular year round! While there is a rainy season (May to October), the rain definitely doesn’t stop the party, as the temperature stays warm and the actual rainstorms are fairly short-lived.The dry season is from November to April. This is the high tourist season, so if you go during this time you can expect to pay more for flights and accommodation.The sea temperature never drops below 26°C; needless to say, no matter the time of year, it’s always beach season in Cuba!