Frequently asked questions about traveling to Cuba
Lots of people contact me to ask me questions about Cuba, so I thought it may be useful to put down a a number of questions and the relevant answers that can help to plan a fantastic trip. From finding the best time to go, to achieving an authentic experience in Cuba, I’ve answered the most frequently asked questions below.
When’s the Best Time to Go to Cuba?
Between December and March is the typical holiday season in Cuba as this is when the weather is mild and dry. Some may also want to avoid the hurricane season which is between June and November. However, the date one decides to book their trip will depend on what type of experience they want to get in Cuba.
Can I Arrive By Boat?
It is actually possible to travel to Cuba on a private own boat, but it is important to make sure to go to a port that accepts international arrivals. These include the Gaviota Bahia de Naranjo Marina in Holguin; the Cayo Guillermo Marina and Cayo Coco in Jardines del Ray; the Gaviota, Chapelin and Darsena Marinas in Varadero; and Hemingway Marina in Havana. Equally, for those traveling to the southern coast, Punta Gorda Marina and Cayo Largo del Sur Marina in Santiago de Cuba or the Maria La Gorda International Scuba Diving Centre in Pinar del Rio will be the ones to travel to.
What Type of Experiences Can I Have in Cuba?
Cuba offers a plethora of different experiences for its visitors. For those wanting an authentic experience, I suggest to opt for a trip that revolves around Cuba’s heritage and goes to places that are less touristy. Equally, it is interesting to try living with a Cuban family to get a true feel for what it’s like to live in Cuba.
Alternatively, Cuba is great to relax, unwind and indulge in some sensory experiences: Cuba has this to offer too. There are also great scuba diving, birdwatching and nature tours available for the more active of holiday-makers.
What is the Local Currency in Cuba?
Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the local currency that’s available for tourists. Despite there being another currency that exists nationally, this is for the locals only – though tourists can get hold of it to buy minor things such as small snacks in the streets. It is possible to exchange British sterling, Canadian dollars, Euros and Swiss francs in most tourist areas but there may be charges incurred for exchanging U.S. dollars (this is usually 10%).
Is Cuba Safe to Travel to?
With controlled criminal activity and the attacking of tourists being almost unheard of, Cuba is one of the safest destinations one can visit in the world. However, as with anywhere, it is necessary to take all of the necessary safety measures to prevent from becoming an easy target. Most of the crimes that are reported against tourists are ones that involve scams or thefts and aren’t of a violent nature. I suggest to remember to be vigilant when in public, keeping any valuables out of view.
Scams happen regularly, to the point that some travelers may find it unnerving, but with a bit of practice their are easy to spot and avoid.
To read more about my experience with Cuban people, read my post “Where are the lovely Cubans?”
How Much Money Will I Need?
Cuba is middle-of-the-road when it comes to how expensive it is compared with other Caribbean destinations. It’s not the cheapest but then it’s not the most expensive either. On average, expect to pay around $75 – 100 CUC per day, which includes your transport, food and accommodation. However, if a savvy traveller looking at exploring the lesser known areas of Cuba will manage to spend far less, particularly if buying food from street vendors.
Is Travel Insurance Required When Traveling to Cuba?
Cuban authorities made travel insurance compulsory in May 2010, so it’s very important to get this before traveling, or to purchase a plan when arriving at the airport in Cuba. A travel insurance will need to cover for any medical emergencies that occur throughout the stay in Cuba, and it’s also worth looking at a more comprehensive package that covers against other emergencies, theft or loss.
What Clothes Should I Pack for My Trip?
It’s not going to get cold in Cuba, no matter what time of year one may travel, so pack light clothes. A cardigan or jumper will be more than adequate during the winter months but with temperatures hardly ever falling below 20 degrees Celsius all year round, it’s unlikely that one may need much more than this! It was still interesting, though, to see the locals saying it was cold when it was 22 degrees outside!
Do I Need Any Vaccinations Before I Travel?
General advice recommends to make sure to be up to date with all of the recommended vaccinations one should have in their home country. However, it is advisable to get a Hepatitis A jab before traveling, especially if going to be experimenting with the local foods. Even though most homes will boil the water before use, some street vendors won’t, which could leave one susceptible to this disease.
Will I Need an Adaptor?
It is necessary to have an adaptor that fits into American sockets. The electric outlets use two to three prongs and have a 110-volt current. Some hotels and resorts may have European sockets and 220 volts and even though this is quite rare, it’s worth checking with the hotel before getting there. Make sure to be not only equipped with an adaptor but to also pack a voltage converter too, just in case. These aren’t easy to come by in Cuba so it’s better to be prepared before getting there.
Is There Anything I Need to Know About Medicines or Food Allergies?
I always travel with my prescription medicines, and pack these anyways – and recommend to do the same. It’s also advisable to pack other essentials, e.g. paracetamols, ibuprofens and diarrhoea tablets. However, that said, Cuba’s healthcare system is excellent.
Equally, if suffering from a food allergy, be careful, as a lot of restaurants won’t provide lactose- or gluten-free products (although truth be told, dairies are not common in Cuba). Check with the chef and ask them if they can rustle something up if they don’t have any alternatives on the menu.
I really hope this helps planning a trip to Cuba. And for more information on places to visit and things to do in Cuba, check my ultimate guide!