As an American, Cuba has always been that mysterious country, everyone knows is out there but you don’t really know a lot about. It hides behind this blanket of what I know now is misinformed fear and cautious curiosity.
While doing my extensive research for this Cuba trip, I remembered reading a travel guide book, describing Cuba as “A Prince in Tattered Clothing” and it couldn’t have been more accurate. Even though majority of these buildings run- down, the city still has this charm and beauty to it.
Before my trip, I heard a lot of people say “It’s like Cuba is stuck in time,” not true and cliche. Yes there are vintage American taxi cars everywhere, but there are also more up to date yellow cabs. Cuban people aren’t missing a beat when it comes to the music they listen to, clothes they wear, and they’re even on social media. Because of the Embargo, Cuba has been forced to move a slower pace compared to other countries.
Traveling to Cuba as an American is not a walk in the park. You will need to obtain a Visa, $50 when you check-in at the airport. Cuba also requires that you travel with medical insurance, this is included in your ticket price. Your stamped boarding pass is your proof of medical insurance. There are travel limitations set by the U.S. through the Embargo Act that forbids most American travelers wishing to visit Cuba and don’t fall under the current 12 categories of authorized travel to the country.
Below I added some tips and visuals. Feel free to ask any questions.
- Food: The food in Cuba is nothing to brag about because of trade restrictions, there are limits on seasoning. Yes, you can find good food here and there, but this is not the norm.
- Water: Don’t drink the water: No discussion here, unless you wants cramps and the shits. ONLY drink bottled water.
- Internet: Wifi hot spots are found in select parks and hotels in Havana. The cards can be bought, costing $2.50- $4.00 CUC for up an hour. Oh, and don’t expect the WiFi to be reliable or fast. We didn’t even bother trying to get wifi. It’s good to disconnect sometimes.
- Maps: Use offline maps. Maps.me App allows you to use your phone’s GPS to show your location. You will need to download the map before going to Cuba.
- Money: Be prepared to bring 100$ for each day you plan to stay in Cuba. You can’t use credit cards issued from USA. Its better to take more than what you need, so you won’t be stuck abroad. Change your money to Euros first, then to CUC. Cuba uses two currencies, CUC which is used by tourist and holds more value. CUP is used by locals, and it isn’t worth much.
- Lodging: The most common form of accommodation is known as Casa Particular or Airbnb. We loved our Airbnb. The apartment was beautiful, spacious, and a great backdrop for our pictures. Cuban breakfast for $7, each morning. A fridge stocked with just water, super convenient. Great location if you want to be right in the thick of Havana, away from tourist. It’s located right across from the famous La Gaurida Restaurant, which is where the Oscar nominated movie, Fresca y Chocolate was filmed. When explaining to Taxis where we lived, we would just tell them La Gaurida.
- People: INTERACT WITH THE CUBAN PEOPLE!!!! The Cuban people were so welcoming, caring, and loving. They made us feel right at home. You can learn a lot from just talking with them. Most of the places we went to was referred by locals. As women traveling by ourselves, we felt safe. The Cuban men are very flirtatious but not in that creepy way.
- Don’t forget to purchase art.Look out for Things I did in Cuba and Cuba lookbook Post, coming soon.