11 Things to know before traveling to Cuba


  1. Just like here in central Florida, the driest and coolest months are November-March. It is also their busiest time of the year so keep that in mind when planning your trip.
  2. Although the US wants you to have a visa before traveling to Cuba, the Cuban government welcomes all travelers. That being said, you do need to get a valid Person-to-Person Tourist Card.
  3. Consider the “stop over technique” Many booking sites do not offer direct flights to Cuba. A good option is to book a round trip ticket from the US to Mexico, Bahamas, Panama or Dominican Republic. These are some of the most popular countries.
  4. It a good idea to buy a tour package from a US based tour operator before you leave. You can make arrangements when you get there, and it will probably be cheaper, but it will be a much bigger hassle.
  5. Make sure you take all your documents with you and they are printed out. Internet access may be limited, and printing documents can be difficult. Make sure you print your boarding passes, hotel and tour reservations, proof of travel medical insurance (required) and any other info you may need. I always bring two copies of my documents with me when I travel. One copy with my carry-on bag and another in my checked-in luggage.
  6. Debt and credit cards are not accepted at all. Read that again…NOT ACCEPTED. You must bring cash. US currency is exchanged without issues. Some people say to exchange for British Pounds or Euros first but it’s not necessary. There are two currencies in Cuba: The National Peso (CUP), and the Convertible Peso (CUC). The CUC (as of Feb. ’18) is the primary currency used by tourists.
  7. Cuban food is not that good, bottom line. Restaurants run by the government in particular suck. Stick with the locally owned restaurants that serve fresh, higher quality food. Their food tastes better because it has to. If it sucks, then they go out of business. Government ran eateries don’t care because they don’t need money to stay in business. Also, don’t drink the local water. Always buy the bottled water.
  8. Always negotiate with the taxi drivers. They know you are a tourist and will always try to charge you more. Don’t be afraid to haggle, they’re used to it.
  9. Locals love gifts. Stop at the dollar store before you leave and pick up a bunch of various nick-knacks. You will make friends instantly, they are very appreciative, and it just makes you feel good 😉
  10. You can bring gifts back but keep this in mind: Only one bottle of liquor and 100 cigars are allowed without paying any duties or tax. You are welcome to bring back souvenirs as long as the total value does not exceed $800 USD.
  11. To access WIFI in Cuba you need to purchase a pre-paid WIFI card. These cards can be purchased at the airport for $2 an hour. Newer devices seem to have more issues connecting to the WIFI so bring an older device along with your phone if you have one.

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