Lori Zaino shares helpful tips for visiting Cuba

Posted: 09-Aug-16 09:13

While visiting Cuba has certainly become easier for American tourists since relations between the US and the island strengthened recently, it still remains unchartered waters for many. Blogger Lori Zaino has shared some helpful tips on ThePointsGuy.com for those wanting to take the plunge and discover what they've been missing in Havana and beyond.

Lori Zaino shares helpful tips for visiting Cuba

While Cuba has been made significantly more accessible to American tourists over the course of the past year, the fact remains that it is still a largely unexplored travel destination for many US visitors. ThePointsGuy.com is a reliable resource for travel tips and in a recent article Lori Zaino explained everything you need to know before making your trip.

1. Who can travel?

First and foremost, it is important to remember that US visitors to Cuba must comply with one of the 12 pre-approved travel categories that have been defined by the OFAC in the US. Though fairly far-reaching, you may be required to prove that your trip fits one of these criteria and it is also advisable to keep a record of your activities in Cuba. There are other entry requirements but this is the most important to take into consideration.

2. What to expect at the airport

American holidaymakers visiting Cuba for the first time may be surprised at the condition of the country’s airports, most of which feature lengthy queues and no air conditioning. On arrival, you will be asked a few questions by a customs officer and will also have to produce valid health insurance.

3. Where to stay

As you will have read on this site, the US hotel chain Starwood are currently in the process of opening up new properties in Cuba. In some situations, staying with a local in a casa particular (like an AirBnB) can be a better option. They usually offer a more authentic taste of local life and are less expensive than a proper resort. However, the best option, whether hotel or casa particular, depends on your style of holiday and your travel preferences.

4. Money matters

While some reports state that US based debit or credit cards are not accepted, recent news points to the fact that ATMs in Havana now accept some US issued credit cards. While you’ll mostly be dealing in Cuban Convertible Pesos, it is also wise to take a little of the local currency, Cuban Pesos, to spend in the less touristy areas.

5. How to exchange funds

Once travellers have done that, they’ll be able to exchange money at airports, ferry terminals and the local cadecas (money changer) found inside most big hotels.

6. Rule the airwaves

While several US telecommunication companies are stepping up their Cuban coverage this year, for the most part you still won’t be able to find much roaming coverage on your US mobile. Fortunately, most Airbnb properties allow you to rent a local phone for the duration of your stay for a small fee.

7. Getting internet access

Similarly, if you’re not staying in one of the more expensive hotels, you’ll have a hard time finding any free internet access. Instead, visitors will have to invest in an internet card from any ETECSA cell phone store, a Cuban telecommunication company, which can grant you up to five hours internet usage and access to several Wi-Fi points.

8. How to avoid getting fleeced

If you look like an obvious tourist, expect to be offered tourist prices by the locals. If, however, you’re able to speak in Spanish, you’ll soon find that their rates become a lot fairer. Be prepared to haggle for things like taxi fares and be sure to use the same driver once you find one that you like.

9. Keeping healthy

While Cuba is generally a pretty safe place to visit, there are a couple of big health rules to follow. Firstly, never drink the tap water. Secondly, check with your doctor to see if any vaccines are necessary before you go. Other than that, just be aware that even painkillers are hard to come by.

10. What you can bring home

Keep in mind that you are allowed to bring home $400 worth of goods from Cuba – and of that $400, only $100 can be cigars or alcohol for personal consumption. Whatever you do, don’t try and push these limits with customs because you can be fined up to $250,000 or spend 10 years in prison!

As you can see, although Cuba still feels like a wild adventure for most American travellers, a bit of forward planning can make the experience easier and allow you to get on with enjoying your trip.

Get in touch with our experts

Call 020 7644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us


Popular Holidays in cuba

OUR EXCLUSIVE DEALS AND LATEST OFFERS

Best Value

From £639 per person
villa pinares de mayari

Villa Pinares De Mayari

4.0 stars

Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
villa mirador de mayabe

Villa Mirador De Mayabe

2.0 stars

This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £689 per person
villa romero

Villa Romero

5.0 stars

Villa Romero is beautiful in its design, and its comfortable rooms are pleasantly decorated to a high standard, offering...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £709 per person
club amigo atlantico guardalavaca

Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca

3.0 stars

Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £719 per person
playa caleta

Playa Caleta

4.0 stars

Make a dream holiday on the luscious beaches of Varadero a reality with an eight-day trip to this picturesque Cuban...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £739 per person
casa santy

Casa Santy

3.0 stars

Look out onto the day to day life of Havana's streets from the Casa Santy's balconies, with its great location and a...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation

More deals


Explore cuba your way

Tailor made cuba holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 020 7644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us