Getting ready for Cuba, a checklist for your holidays

Posted: 24-May-16 14:59

If you're headed to Cuba for the first time there are certain things you need to know before you book your trip, much less set foot on the island. From understanding Cuban lodging to vintage transportation, what to buy and what not to leave at home, we have your checklist of everything you need to know when visiting Cuba.

Getting ready for Cuba, a checklist for your holidays

Cuba is one of the hottest destinations for travellers right now, from its stunning scenery to its unique culture. As more and more airlines open up flights to the island, cruise ships sail into port and visitors mark a list of their “must see” locations, it’s important to keep in mind a few things about visiting Cuba before you go. Luckily a recent article posted on the Hindustan Times outlines a checklist of what you need to know before taking a holiday to Cuba.

When to go

Before you even choose your dates the article mentions that prices are typically higher in the winter. You can save money by going in July or August, but the author reminds that this is the same time many Cubans are also on holiday. Find more here.

Get a tourist card

Some destinations demand high attention to detail before trevelling and Cuba is one of them. Medical Insurance, Tourist card and some other elements are required for entrying the country.

According to the article, another item of importance is a tourist card. Cuba still requires visitors to have one and they’re good for up to 30-days. The article does point out, though, you can renew your tourist card for longer once you’re on the island.

To get one the article suggests going to your local embassy or consulate. If you are part of a tour you also may want to check with your tour operator. The article discloses that you cannot get a tourist card without a return ticket home. Along with the card the author recommends having travel insurance that takes care of reparation costs or emergency medical fees.

Where to stay

As for lodging, the Hindustan Times article explains the difference in accommodations. According to the writer, casas particulares supply the same advantages as hotels. You will usually spot one by a sign on the outside of the home that welcomes guests. Typically, the article says, those in the city come with two or three rooms that visitors can rent out. The author does say that sometimes the homes don’t have hot water and that you may find the water closet outside, though you will save money over a hotel.

How to get around

If a trip to Cuba conjures up images of vintage, 1950s American cars you’re in luck. The article goes on to explain that old Cadillacs and Chevrolets are available for tours and excursions. Perhaps the easiest way to catch a ride in one of them, however, is to flag one down. The writer says it’s important to agree on a fare before you go. While nostalgic, the article does reveal that the old cars aren’t the most comfortable to ride in and not all of them are convertibles.

Where to purchase cigars

The article continues with some insight in what else to do while in Cuba. When it comes to purchasing Cuban cigars the author suggests going straight to a cigar factory and bypassing the cigars sold on the street because you may not get the best price. The author promotes cigars as a great souvenir for friends and family back home.

Beaches to visit

Finally, when it comes to beaches the article makes mention of several good choices. Varadero Beach, about an hour-and-a-half from Havana is popular while Playa Pilar is more natural and unspoiled. To the east, the article discloses that several hotels are close to Playa Los Pinos while on the south coast, Trinidad is great for visitors seeking beach time. For snorkelling and diving the author suggests Isla de la Juventud, Santiago de Cuba, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo or Maria la Gorda.

The article also points out that the impressive locale will likely get even more visitors in the future as airlines like Corsair open routes to Cuba, Celestyal Cruises charters a ship and Starwood Group plans two hotels on the island.


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