I wanted to conclude my Cuba series with a few notes that may be helpful before you travel to Cuba for the first time. I’ve also shared a photo diary of a few more pictures that you haven’t already seen!
- The island of Cuba has three international airports located throughout the island, but I recommend flying into Havana. Its the capitol and, in my opinion, the most important city of the country (although not the only important city). Havana is at the very top of the island, making it kinda far from other parts of the island, but it is a great place to began as it has tons of transportation options to other cities.
- In Cuba all medications require a prescription. That means that even if you, a traveler, had a simple headache you would have to see a local doctor then be prescribed medication. I suggest bringing travel sized versions of any of the over the counter medications you think you could possibly need. If you plan to bring any prescription medications make sure they are property stored in the original pharmacy container with your name and information clear on the outside.
- Very few places in Cuba take American dollars, therefore it is important that you always have one of the country’s legal currency on you. Most tourists will usually only handle Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC, however the country has a second type of currency: the Cuban Peso or CUP. The CUC is easiest to use because its exchange rate is pretty much 1:1 with the American dollar. The CUP, however, has a conversion rate that would be much harder to figure out in your head. Exchanging money cannot always be done easily since there aren’t very many centers to do so, and the ones that do exist hold odd hours (usually only open at the beginning of the day). If you have the time, exchange your money at the airport when you arrive or at your hotel if they offer that service. Most places charge a 10% penalty to exchange American dollars into CUC.
- Cuba is an island in the Caribbean so obviously is has some pretty awesome beaches made up of white sand and clear blue water. If you are wanting to visit Cuba for the sole purpose of visiting the beach you need to map out your trip with that in mind. While Havana has a few great public beaches (like Playa Santa Maria or El Mar Azul), its has much more of a metropolitan feel. You have to leave the city to find them (like 20-30 minute drive). If the beach is really what you are interested in, you should look at visiting cities in the southern part of the island. Cities like Baracoa have much more of a resort feel.
- Don’t leave without having a mojito and a daiquiri as often as possible!
- Havana’s nightlife is what made it the crown jewel back in the 50s & 60s. These days things aren’t as wild, but the city is still known to have a good time. The young, hip locals will tell you to visit Fabrica de Arte while you are there. Its a vibrant complex for art and music making it the perfect hangout for that scene. Many locals will tell you to avoid Tropicana (Havana’s famous cabaret club) at all cost because its only filled with tourists. While they are right, it is mostly just tourists, that’s really because Cuban’s couldn’t imagine spending that much money (although we’re use to prices like there’s in The States) on food drinks, and tips for performers…but in their defense a evening at Tropicana could cost them an entire month’s salary
- Under the Obama Administration, (I have to say that because the Trump administration is trying to change things so idk how much longer the info I give will be current) Americans could travel to Cuba if their trip met the “people-to-people” requirements. In that case, a trip would have to extend beyond simple tourism activities and force you to interact with real Cuban people and engage in average Cuban activities (ex: visit a school, sit with an artist, helping with a community project). This was with hope that your trip would be educational in learning about the lives of Cubans..and visa versa.
I gave a few other tips on how to get to Cuba in a previous post. Read it here!
If you have any questions at all about Cuba and my travels please feel free to contact me! I would love to help in any way I can. xo