Viva la Revolución!
Cuba is only 90 miles away from America yet it has been shrouded in mystery for more than 50 years due to heavy US sanctions. As many of you know, those sanctions are being slowly lifted and the door has slightly opened, allowing Americans to finally discover this amazing country and its people. Cuba offers a diverse and colorful history as well as a unique view into a country that has had little to work with over the last 50 years. Admirably, with so little, the people remain optimistic about the future.
The trips offered below fall under the United States Department of Treasury’s guidelines for legal travel to Cuba for American citizens.
Day 1 : Havana
Welcome to Cuba! Today you arrive in Havana and settle into your guesthouse accommodations in the city. You will have some free time to walk around Havana and then later that night, we will meet for dinner as a group at a local paladar, a privately-owned restaurant, and a great example of Cuba’s incremental shift to a more free-market economy.
- Activities : Free time
- Meal : Dinner at local paladar
- Accommodation : Casa particular
Day 2 : Havana
Riding around in a classic car as you take in the sights and sounds of Havana is a must. You can take your pick of which car to cruise in. How about a cherry red ’59 Thunderbird? We will ride in our cars to Revolution Square and then to the outskirts of Havana to the home of the famous artist Jose Fuster. Fuster has made his entire home and much of the surrounding neighborhood into a work of art using mosaic tiles. Now referred to as Fusterlandia, it is a unique work of public art with over 80 houses decorated with ornate murals and domes to suit the personality of each of Fuster’s neighbors. We will be able to meet with Fuster’s family who now is in charge with the upkeep of his home and new projects in the neighborhood and discuss their art projects as well as view the gallery in Jose Fuster’s home. After the drive, we will head to the Old City. Havana’s Old City is one of the best preserved colonial cities in all of the Americas, and was designated a World Heritage Site in 1982. The streets are lined with colonial architecture, 16th century fortresses and countless churches. The guided walking tour of Old Havana will take you to La Catedral San Cristobal de la Habana, the Palacio de los Marqueses de Aguas Claras and the Plaza de Armas. We will stop for lunch along the way and after lunch, you will have free time to relax and check out Havana on your own. Later that night let’s head to the Buena Vista Social Club for some live music and dancing.
- Activities : AM – Classic car tour, Old Havana walking tour; PM – Buena Vista Social Club/Night out in Old Havana
- Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
- Accommodation : Casa particular
Day 3 : Viñales (Travel time approximately 4 hours)
Viñales is situated in one of the most picturesque parts of Cuba, among the limestone pincushion hills (“mogotes”) of the Pinar del Rio province. It is a small and culturally rich village, with friendly and welcoming residents and a wide variety of outdoor activities are available. On arrival in Viñales, we’ll get settled into our accommodations and you will then have the rest of the evening at your leisure.
- Activities : AM – Viñales transfer; PM – Free time
- Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
- Accommodation: Casa particular
Day 4 : Viñales
Today we will spend the morning learning more about Cuban agriculture with a visit to a local tobacco farm where you will learn about the tradition of Cuban cigars from a farmer and expert cigar maker. Get an insight as to how agriculture works under the communist system, how much tobacco they will keep, how much produce they give back to the government and how they make ends meet! You will learn about the process of tobacco planting to rolling the final cigar and drink some freshly roasted Cuban coffee from the farm while watching an expert roll some cigars for you to try!
In the afternoon, you will have free time to do as you wish. There are plenty of activities to choose from in your free time. You can take a Cuban-style cooking lesson from a local chef. This activity also includes a stop at the local market. You can also opt to go horseback riding through the hills. Finally, if you’re more adventurous, you can check out the many caves in the surrounding areas.
Later that evening, let’s head to an organic farm and learn about sustainable farming in Cuba. Here, we will meet a local farmer and his family who will show us around the organic farm and explain the methods used to cultivate crops without the use of pesticides. Back at the farmer’s house, lend a hand and get a hands on lesson on how they farm there. With the beautiful sunset as your backdrop along with a clear view of the mogotes, we’ll enjoy a delicious, fresh and diverse meal prepared by the family – a truly authentic farm-to-fork experience!
- Activities : AM – Local tobacco farm visit, Choice of activity at your own expense; PM – Organic farm dinner
- Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
- Accommodation : Casa particular
Day 5 : Playa Larga (Travel time approximately 4.5 hours)
Today we depart for the famous (Or should we say infamous?) Bay of Pigs! We will check into our accommodation and thereafter you can check out the picturesque beach, which is also where the landing of the U.S. sponsored counter-revolutionary exile militia occurred in 1961. You will have free time to either lounge on the beach, go snorkeling or just roam around this charming beach-side village. Later that evening, we will come together for a large meal prepared by a local family as we watch the sunset over the Bay of Pigs and sip on our mojitos!
- Activities : AM – Bay of Pigs transfer; PM – Free time
- Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Accommodation : Casa particular
Day 6 : Trinidad (Travel time approximately 3.5 hours)
After breakfast, we will head to a museum that recounts the events of the Bay of Pigs conflict, which resulted in the first defeat of a U.S backed takeover in Latin America. The museum is very interesting and well worth the stop.
Upon arrival in Trinidad, we will settle into our accommodation and then head out for lunch and an orientation tour of the city. The beautiful colonial city of Trinidad is home to numerous churches and many beautiful colonial buildings. We will be near the breathtaking Valle de los Ingenios (Valley of Sugarmills) and Playa Ancón. Our time in Trinidad will begin with a cultural tour of Trinidad where we will visit various sites including the Afro-Cuban temple consecrated to Yemaya and learn about the Afro-Cuban religion. We will be invited to sit and learn about the religion and its deities from the official caretaker – a priest called Israel. You will also be able to check out many of the local art galleries on the way.
Trinidad has many live music venues with the most popular spot for both locals and tourists being Casa de la Musica…also popular because you can use wifi cards here!
- Activities : AM – Bay of Pigs Museum, Orientation walk of the city; PM – Free time
- Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
- Accommodation : Casa particular
Day 7 : Trinidad
Today you will learn about the history of the area, the local industry and biodiversity as we take a short hike to a waterfall outside of the city. The walk is about one hour each way and is a scenic trek through the jungle. After cooling off in the natural pools at the base of the waterfall, we will return to Trinidad where you’ll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to relax and and explore Trinidad on your own.
- Activities : AM – Hike to waterfall (medium difficulty); PM – Free time
- Meals : Breakfast, Lunch
- Accommodation : Casa particular
Day 8: Havana (Travel time approximately 5 hours)
We head back to Havana today with a quick stop for lunch along the way. You will have some free time to freshen up before heading to our last dinner together in Havana. Afterwards, we suggest enjoying a final fun-filled night of music and dancing!
- Activities : AM – Havana transfer; PM – Farewell dinner
- Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Accommodation : Casa particular
Day 9 : Havana
Depending on your flight time, you will have free time on your own in Havana before catching your flight.
- Meals : Breakfast
* Itinerary subject to change
Regular Season 9-day Tours
$2,400 – Trip cost (see below for what is included and not included)
Peak Season 9-day Tours (December and January)
$2,600 – Trip cost (see below for what is included and not included)
I’m a single traveler. Will I be charged a single supplement?
Accommodation is on a twin share basis and, if you are traveling on your own, you will be sharing a room with another traveler of the same sex. If there is an odd number of group members and you have a room to yourself, you do not have to pay extra. If at some stage during the tour you wish to have a room to yourself, the tour leader can arrange this on a request basis and charge you the difference in cost. This is subject to availability.
If you decide at the booking stage, that you want a single room throughout the tour, you can buy the “single supplement”. The single supplement fee for this trip is reasonably priced at $550. If you would like your own room, you can buy the additional supplement at check-out.
What is included:
- 8 nights accommodation in casa particulares (double occupancy, breakfast included)
- Private Cuban guide throughout
- Private transportation in air-conditioned vehicle
- Activities as noted in itinerary
- Meals as indicated in itinerary : All breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners
What is not included:
- 2 lunches and 4 dinners
- Airport transfers
- Alcoholic beverages
- International flight and tourist card
- Supplementary insurance
Airport pick-up in Havana is not included in the trip cost. If you would like to purchase airport pick-up in advance with us, the cost is $70 one way for a group of 1-3 people maximum. To purchase airport pick-up in advance, please see the below link.
*If you would like to learn more about flights and visas please refer to the tab labeled with that name.
Each of our groups have a maximum of 12 travelers plus a local Cuban guide. We try to price our trips very reasonably while taking into consideration the small group sizes.
When tour group sizes increase to 15-30 travelers, the general ambiance of the trip is less authentic and travelers tend to be less able to integrate into a society. Large tour groups also generally have less authentic contact with the locals. The more people in a tour group, the more the group experiences their own culture rather than the one of the country they are visiting.
Small group sizes are beneficial because they tend to allow for easier transport and communication. They are more mobile and can be more easily integrated into a social scene in Cuba. A small group traveler is also less likely to be treated as a tourist ready to be exploited for his/her money. Additionally, small groups are more flexible as travel plans can be more easily changed or altered en route. If the group discovers a special event or festival in Cuba that they would like to attend, and this is not covered by the original tour itinerary, it is possible to change the itinerary. A small group size also means that travelers will receive more individual attention from their tour guide. As a small group, it is easier to come to an agreement and for the tour guide to alter the reservations.
Small groups are low impact in Cuba because they don’t introduce a large number of foreigners to a local scene where they can have adverse impacts on the local society and other travelers. For example, a large tour group can take up all the seats on a local bus or book out an entire restaurant forcing locals and other travelers away from their preferences.
Should you run out of cash while in Cuba, there is NO way to get more. You will not, in any case, be able to withdraw money from an ATM using any American card. Western Union and other wiring services take a very long time to reach the receiver in Cuba.
This means that you should bring more cash than you expect to spend. It is always better to have extra cash on hand rather than run out and have no way to get more. A large number of travelers to Cuba from past trips wish they had brought more spending money for souvenirs.
Many travelers have told us that they found Cuba to be a lot more expensive than other developing countries they have visited. In Cuba, be prepared to pay as much for food and services as you would in a ‘developed’ Western country. The unexpected higher prices are mainly due to the government placing large taxes on anything considered “non-essential” or tourism-related as well as the artificial exchange rate for the CUC. The trade embargo placed on Cuba by the United States also has effect on prices as well. Cuba is a unique case and it is not as cheap as one might assume. Most visitors find it much more expensive than they anticipated.
Every traveler is different and therefore money spending will vary. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to budgeting for drinks, shopping and tipping.
If you tend to purchase many souvenirs or if you enjoy spending a lot on big nights out, we recommend that you take more than the estimated amount we listed below.
The most popular item to buy in Cuba is cigars. On average, a box of 25 high-quality cigars will cost approximately $200 USD. You can also buy single cigars, which vary greatly in price and can cost between $10 – $25 USD.
Another popular item to buy in Cuba is the artwork and the prices vary greatly depending on the size and the art piece. Expect to pay anywhere between $40 – $300 USD for most art pieces.
An estimated total to bring for expenses is between USD $500-700. WE HIGHLY ADVISE BRINGING MORE MONEY THAN YOU EXPECT TO SPEND IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.
At the end of the trip, if you are satisfied with the service that you received from your Cuban guide and bus driver, you are more than welcome to tip them. You will have one bus driver that accompanies the group throughout the tour. The driver is employed by a Cuban government transport agency and thus receives a typical Cuban salary, ranging from about $10 – $20 USD a month. We therefore encourage you to tip the bus driver, especially if you received excellent service and your experience was enhanced by his/her services.
You are welcome to tip according to what you feel is appropriate, but below are some suggested amounts.
Cuban tour guide : $30 – $80
Cuban bus driver : $5 – $10
1 Cuban Convertible Peso = .87 cents USD (*Please note that this is subject to change.)
For international exchange purposes, 1.00 Cuban Convertible Peso = $1.00 USD. Note that on top of the 3% currency exchange fee, there is a 10% fee charged when exchanging US dollars, so you will only receive 87 centavos CUC for one US dollar when exchanging currencies.
All other currencies (Euros, Canadian dollars, British Pounds) only have a 3% exchange fee.
There are two official currencies in Cuba : the Peso Convertible (CUC) and the Cuban Peso (CUP or Moneda Nacional – M.N). The exchange rates of these currencies are fixed by the Cuban government and are liable to change at any time.
Tourists use Convertible Pesos (CUC) and Cubans use Cuban pesos (CUP). As a tourist, you will be quoted for everything you purchase in Convertible Pesos (CUC).
In Cuba, there are official government exchange houses called CADECA. These can be found in every reasonably-sized city and also at the airport. We suggest exchanging most of your currency at the airport for the sake of convenience. There are CADECAs in some of the bigger hotels and also near the accommodation in Havana. All exchange houses and hotels offer the same rates, so there is no need to shop around for the best rate. Be sure to count the money you receive from the CADECA, as staff have been known to short-change tourists.
You can either exchange your money at the airport or you can exchange money at a CADECA near your casa particular. If you are taking your own taxi to the casa particular, you will need to exchange money at the airport.
Exchange counters accept all denominations, but we recommend bringing 100 dollar bills. Make sure that the bills are in relatively good shape with no tears and limited wrinkles.
At the end of your trip, you can exchange your money back to USD at the airport. You cannot exchange pesos outside of Cuba, so you can either exchange back to another currency in Cuba at the airport or spend the rest on souvenirs at the airport. When you exchange back to your local currency you will be charged a 3% fee.
Many travelers ask about bringing Euros or Canadian dollars to Cuba as these currencies do not have an additional 10% exchange fee like the USD. Remember that all foreign currencies in Cuba are subject to the 3% currency exchange fee. Your home bank may also have supplementary currency exchange fees, so it is up to you to check with your bank and inform yourself of the exchange rate, which you can find online.
Please understand that we do NOT advise travelers on what currency to bring with them to Cuba and it is the responsibility of the traveler to decide on his/her own. Please weigh the pros and cons of exchanging to another currency on your own by checking with your bank and the exchange rates online.
Upon arrival in Havana, you will need to get a taxi as there is no public transportation from the airport to the city. A taxi will cost around 25 – 30 CUC and will take approximately 45 minutes from the airport to your accommodation. This is not included in trip cost and will be an out of pocket expense. To pay for a taxi, you will need to exchange your cash to CUC at the airport. Don’t worry though, you will get a lot more details about taking a taxi in your pre-departure notes, which you will get approximately 1 week before your trip start date.
While in Cuba, all of your major transfers from city to city will be provided for you and are included in the trip cost. You will travel in a small mini-bus from city-to-city. The bus is air-conditioned with a small cooler on the bus to store water.
On departure day in Havana, you also can take a taxi, which your guide can help you set up. For your taxi ride from your accommodation back to the airport, be sure to set aside at least 25 – 30 CUC.
As of recently, there is no longer a quota on souvenirs purchased while in Cuba. Now you can bring as many cigars and rum that you can fit in your suitcase! Be sure to keep in mind your airline luggage weight restrictions when purchasing souvenirs.
Update : As of December 1, 2016 most American phones should work in Cuba (with the exception of Metro PCS). When you land in Cuba you should get a text message from your provider telling you the rates. For most American phones, the rate is $3 – $4 a minute and 50 cents per text message. Data on your phone will not work in Cuba.
Your Cuban guide’s telephone number will be given to you approximately 5-10 days before your trip. This number can be given to your family in the unlikely case of an emergency. We ask that your family members and friends do not call the Cuban tour guide just to “touch base”. We have your emergency contact number and should any urgent situation arise, we will contact them immediately. Please do inform your family and friends of this since they will almost certainly get worried if they don’t hear from you.
Internet is quite hard to come by in Cuba, so please be prepared to only have 1~2 chances, if any, to use the Internet. It is important that your family and friends do not expect for you to call them via video chat platforms such as FaceTime and Skype because these programs don’t often work in Cuba. Internet is accessible in your free time at bigger hotels, but because of high demand and weak connection, usage can be quite difficult and frustrating.
Additionally, Internet can be accessed at specialty telecommunication stores in the form of ‘Wifi cards’. They can be used in a few public squares and parks in Cuba. Do not expect high-speed Internet connection in the public Wifi spaces. You may not even be able to get a connection at all, so once more, please make sure that your family and friends aren’t expecting an email or video chat from you everyday while on the trip. The Cuban people have lived without the Internet most of their lives and you can survive 9 days, we promise!
If you want to use the Internet, you can go on your own to a Wifi/Internet space. Remember that it is not guaranteed to work even when purchased. Your Cuban guide will be able to point you in the right direction.
Helping the Cuban People
Most Cubans are happy to receive gifts from foreign visitors even if they are items that you might throw out at home. Below are some suggestions that are highly appreciated :
- Sports equipment – soccer balls, baseballs, tennis balls, pumps for the balls, etc…
- Slightly used clothing especially name brand items (Adidas, Nike) for both men and women.
- Toiletries – scented lotions, perfumes, body spray, etc…
Although they are usually most happy to receive them, it is not necessary to bring gifts for your host families. They are a bit more well-off than other families in Cuba and will be happy enough with just your friendly presence. Often, the host families employ people to help them do the work in the house. As much as anyone you will meet, these employees are very suitable and deserving recipients for any gifts you may bring because they typically get paid around $10 a month for their part-time work.
We tend to discourage travelers to hand out gifts to random people on the street. Thus, we think it is a great idea to give gifts spontaneously to people who treat you with respect, don’t ask for anything, who are poorer than the average Cuban, and/or with whom you have some sort of positive interaction. Cubans are not necessarily ashamed to receive money as a gift. This is also an appropriate way to help somebody, especially if they have provided you with a service that you value.
Be mindful of your baggage weight limit when bringing gifts or you may end up paying a lot in excess baggage fees.
Some travelers from our past trips were disappointed that they could not find people to give their gifts to while traveling in Cuba. Remember that we will not be going to any particular ‘spot’ to hand out the gifts you brought, so we advise you to look on your own for people who would appreciate your gifts. As stated above, the workers at your casa particular, not the owners, are not very well-off and would be great recipients. They tend to be mostly female and will graciously accept anything you offer them.
What to Bring
You will be on the move a great deal, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible.
We recommend a duffel bag or backpack (whatever you find easiest to carry) or a reasonably-sized suitcase with wheels. Expect to have to carry your own luggage on and off buses, up and down stairs, and on cobblestone streets. The driver will usually help with the luggage, but please keep that in mind at the end of the trip when tipping.
If you would like to store a few things in Havana and pick them up at the end of the tour, it is possible for a small fee of about 5 CUC per bag/item. You will need to ask your tour leader about this upon arrival.
Recommended items for this trip are :
- Mosquito Repellent (DEET strength) – for summer months
- Toilet paper (you can also buy this in Cuba), wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer
- Diarrhea/constipation medicine
- Bathing suit
- Small towel (for after swimming)
- Flip flops
- Walking shoes (sneakers)
- Small, secure backpack or across-the-shoulder bag for when traveling by foot
- Phone or flashlight
As far as clothing goes, bring lightweight, breathable clothes. Jeans are not recommended.
At most casa particulares, you can have items laundered for a fee depending on the quantity, but on average it will cost approximately 5 CUC per item depending on the size. You can also opt to bring a small amount of laundry detergent and do your own laundry in the sink.
If you want to give laundry to your casa particular to wash, make sure to give to them in the morning as it takes about 24 hours to dry.
Although your trip will include many activities, we try to make sure you have free time in the late afternoon and evening, so that you may participate in optional activities such as dance lessons or live music venues. These activities can be arranged for you and will be at your own expense. The guide is always looking for new, cool things for you to do and will help arrange these activities for you. There is no need to book these things in advance. Most can be arranged the day before or even the same day of the activity.
What to expect : Cuba is not like ‘home’
Cuba is an exotic place that Americans have been prohibited from going to and this is what draws many of us there. We are excited to see a country that has been frozen in time, so to speak. Because it has been frozen in time, you might experience and find some of the following things uncomfortable :
- No toilet seats on many of the toilets
- No toilet paper in many public bathrooms or toilet paper for purchase from the bathroom attendant (small change is appropriate as a tip)
- Toilet paper goes in the trash bin NOT into the toilet itself
- Minimal water pressure in showers
- Scarcity of basic things such as batteries and chargers
- Scarcity of brand name products
- Hard to find and expensive Internet
- Lack of air conditioning in many restaurants and public buildings
You may or may experience none to all of these things because there is an embargo still in place and access to materials is low.
Food and Drink
Many travelers are pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety of food that can be found in Cuba. Beans and rice are the staples, along with cucumber, tomato and cabbage as conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba. However, fish and a surprising variety of delicious seafood are also very frequently offered.
Fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season include : mango, pineapple, papaya, guava, coconut, orange, grapefruit, breadfruit, corn, an assortment of sweet potatoes, bananas and enormous avocados, as well as many other tropical fruits.
Coffee and chocolate are both produced in large quantities in Cuba and the quality of coffee is generally considered excellent, although some visitors find it too strong for their liking.
Breakfast is included everyday on all of our trips in Cuba. It is an especially wholesome and filling experience at the accommodation (casa particulares). The breakfast varies from house to house and typically includes coffee, milk, fruit juice, bread, eggs (or omelettes), and fresh fruit.
Cubans are gradually becoming more aware of vegetarianism. Many of them are aware of its existence, but do not quite understand the reasoning behind it. The belief that to eat well means eating meat is still firmly embedded in the nation’s consciousness. However, through the influence of tourism, more and more vegetarian options are to be found on restaurant menus in Cuba and the cooks in the accommodations are now quite accustomed to providing vegetarian meals. Therefore, it is not too difficult to get a vegetarian meal in Cuba, although you generally won’t find much variety and you may get tired of being offered the same (i.e. rice, beans, omelette and salad) everyday.
There is little problem maintaining a strict gluten-free diet in Cuba. This is mainly because the food in Cuba is very natural (there isn’t much processed food available in Cuba). This is especially true in the homestays where there is also the additional advantage of being able to order specific meals and give the cook instructions about what you can and cannot eat. The guides are informed about gluten intolerance and to know which ingredients to instruct the cooks to avoid.
Rum is the base ingredient for the world famous Cuban cocktails including the daiquiri, mojito, Ron Collins, pina colada, and cubata. Excellent draught beer is available everywhere in Cuba as well as local soft drinks.
Most of the food you will have at paladares is limited to what is produced locally and what is in season. The U.S. relies on mass imports and industrial farming to provide us variation in food year round. In Cuba, you will be offered what is in season. If it is avocado season, you will eat many avocados. If it is guava season, you will eat a lot of guavas, and so on. It is quite a treat to eat local and organic food. Monsanto and other U.S. pesticide and GMO corporations are not allowed into Cuba due to the embargo, so think of how fresh the fruits and veggies will taste! Also, the meat is all grass-fed and free range. In Cuba, there is no industrial farming in which the livestock are pumped full of antibiotics or mistreated. Cuban pigs can lay on their backs and play in the mud!
Agua, por favor
Due to the tropical climate, you will find yourself drinking a lot of water. The tap water in Cuba is not drinkable and while many Cubans drink filtered tap water, most visitors stick to bottled water.
In order to alleviate the growing trash epidemic, we ask that you bring a water bottle with you on the trip. On the bus, there is a place to store and cool water. Many of our travelers pool together their money to buy larger jugs of water from which to refill their water bottles while traveling around the island. This saves time and also reduces the amount of plastic waste created.
Safety in Cuba
Cuba is one of the safer countries in which to travel. This is, in no small part, due to the swift and severe penalties handed down for even minor crimes. Stealing from a tourist is one of the more serious crimes for which lengthy sentences can be given. There is also a high concentration of police in the cities, especially in tourist areas. Police in Cuba are very well-paid compared to most Cubans, so they are not too prone to corruption. Also, there is no known terrorist threat to Cuba.
However, crimes against tourists, can occur in Cuba, so it is advisable to take general precautions just as you would do when traveling in any other country. One area considered to be less safe in Cuba is Santiago de Cuba, especially late at night where pick-pocketing in crowded areas and bag-snatching have been known to occasionally occur. Violent crimes are virtually unheard of as well as armed robberies and hold-ups.
Although Cuban have the basics such as food, housing, health care, and education, the majority are very poor in comparison to any tourist. It is advisable that while in Cuba, and a basic courtesy, not to flaunt your wealth excessively and announce yourself as a potential target. Other precautions we recommend while traveling in Cuba would be not to carry lots of unnecessary cash around with you in the street. When going somewhere late at night, we recommend not to carry external bags, to travel as a group of two or more, and take a taxi. If you keep in mind these basic safety precautions, you most certainly will have a very enjoyable and safe visit to Cuba.
Cuba, as a general rule, is much safer than any major American city.
Our Cuban guides are hand-picked for their expertise and are an excellent resource for questions about Cuban society, history, and culture. Your Cuban guide will work to ensure that each individual has the most rewarding experience possible. Like local friends, our guides show you the real Cuba by providing direct access to the people and places most tourists never discover.
Plugs and Voltage
Most places have only 110V (60Hz), and some have both 110V and 220V (60Hz). At most home stays and throughout Cuba, an American outlet is present, so you will NOT need an adapter.
The long awaited opening of flights to Cuba from America is finally over! Commercial flights to Havana are scheduled to begin December 1st, 2016 and commercial flights to cities outside of Havana have already started.
The airlines approved by the U.S. government for flights to Havana are American, JetBlue, Southwest, Delta, United, Alaska, Frontier, and Spirit.
Most airlines can provide you with a flight from your home city to Havana with a connecting flight.
Below is information on flights in and out of Cuba. The information provided below is for informational purposes only, we are not responsible for the accuracy of this information. We will not be held responsible if the information below is not up-to-date and it is the responsibility of each traveler to contact the airline for questions and accuracy of information.
*For detailed information on visas, mandatory Cuban medical insurance, etc., please call the airline with which you would like to fly.
American Airlines :
Frontier Airlines :
MIA to HAV (One-stop routes from Denver and Las Vegas)
United Airlines :
JetBlue Airways :
Ft Lauderdale (FLL), JFK, Orlando
Delta Airlines :
JFK , ATL, MIA
Alaska Airlines :
Southwest Airlines :
Ft Lauderdale and Tampa
Spirit Airlines :
*Please do not book any flights until you receive a confirmation from us which will be sent to you 24 hours after paying your deposit.
The summer in Cuba is from June to August. Expect high humidity with the occasional afternoon shower. The afternoon thunderstorms are short, but intense and they usually roll in late in the afternoon, last for around 30 minutes and then it is sunny skies again. Summer is one of the most festive times of the year in Cuba with carnivals being held in many cities, and festivals occuring throughout the island. This is also holiday season for the Cubans, so there are many social occasions. Summer is also a tourist high season because it coincides with the holiday season in Europe. Hotels, flights, and tours can often be booked full well ahead of time and prices can be higher than other times of the year.
The rest of the year in Cuba generally enjoys beautiful warm weather. December, January, and February are the coolest months of the year in Cuba where the average maximum daily temperature is on average 77°F and 65°F at night. During these winter months in Cuba, occasional cold fronts can make their way down from North America, during which, for a period of a couple of days, temperatures at night can drop to around 55°F in some places. Rain may or may not accompany these cold fronts.
The hurricane season is from July to November with September and October being the months with the highest probability of hurricane activity. Unlike tornadoes, hurricanes can be forecasted so you will know if one is approaching. Many hurricanes change course very frequently so it is a bit unpredictable until a few days before if it will hit.
When hurricanes occur, they generally aren’t a risk to life. However, they can cause some interruption to travel plans. Cuba’s safety record concerning hurricanes is excellent and it is unusual that in even the biggest storms that there is a loss of life. This is in stark contrast to other countries in the region (such as Haiti, but also including the US). Cuba is very well organized, disciplined and prepared for such events and there are excellent evacuation procedures. Tourists are given the highest priority.
We run tours during the hurricane season and if you book on a tour during this period, you should be aware that hurricanes could disrupt the normal tour itinerary.
Maps of current tropical storm activity in Cuba can be seen on the following website : www.nhc.noaa.gov/
Christmas and New Years are times of peak tourist activity in Cuba, when hotels, flights, and tours can be booked full well ahead of time. Prices for accommodation and tours can also increase in price markedly during these times. Our tour prices increase by $200 during the months of December and January.
IMPORTANT : The surge in tourism in Cuba has created a strain on the infrastructure, including on the casa particulares. Replacement parts for basic things such as TVs, air-conditioning units, cars, etc…are hard to come by and if a replacement part is needed, Cubans have to improvise with whatever they have. They cannot simply order it on Amazon. Please understand that things might break and there is not usually an ‘easy’ way to fix it. There is still an embargo placed on Cuba and although it has opened up for tourism, Cuba still does lack in some basic needs. Cuba has never seen such a surge in tourism in more than half a century and are ill-equipped to handle such a demand, especially with the embargo still in place. Please come in with an open mind and we will always try our best to make sure everything is in working order.
For most travelers, the guesthouse (casa particular) accommodation is a major highlight of their visit to Cuba. The guesthouses provide a great opportunity for travelers to interact with everyday Cubans.
Our travelers consistently rate the casas, as more comfortable than 4-star hotels in Cuba. They provide a very different experience than staying in hotels. The rooms are basic but all very comfortable and clean and the families in Cuba will try to make you feel at home as much as possible.
While every family and every casa in Cuba is unique with slightly different levels of comfort, the bed & breakfast-style houses we use in Cuba on our tours are much nicer than the average Cuban dwelling. The casa particulares are a form of accommodation for foreigners in Cuba that is legal and formalized, and the rooms for guests are required to meet a certain standard of comfort for the house to obtain a license to rent. The fee that the owners of the houses in Cuba pay to the government for this license is quite substantial.
All rooms have air-conditioning and a private bathroom. Most casa particulares do not provide shampoo or soap and although some might provide it, it would be best to be prepared with your own. Also, a hair dryer will not be provided in the accommodation, so if you need one we suggest bringing with you.
Guests are served breakfast every morning at the casa. The breakfast usually includes eggs and bread, fruit, fresh fruit juice (i.e. guava, papaya, mango), coffee and tea. The families will try to make you feel at home as much as possible. Most Cubans are very friendly and love to talk to guests. In some houses, the family members speak English quite well, while in others they are practiced at communicating with their non-Spanish speaking guests simply by gesturing and smiling. Overcoming these communication challenges is seen by most as part of the fun!
Generally, the group will split up into different homes with between 1 and 4 group members in each home. We use a number of different houses depending on the group size. Most homes in Cuba that are licensed to rent rooms to tourists as a casa particular, typically have 2-4 rooms for guests. However with the recent change in laws, some homes now have up to 10 rooms.
For our tour groups, we chose one house as a “Base House” or (central house) which typically has more rooms and a nice area for the group to meet. We use this house as an arrival and departure point for the group and as a meeting point for any excursions or activities with the tour leader. Tour participants are distributed to different casas situated within a short walking distance of the Base House. Family members from those houses collect tour participants from the Base House. Typically between 1 and 4 group members will stay in each casa.
All accommodation on our tours in Cuba is based on a twin-share arrangement. This means that there will be two people per room and if you join the tour as an individual, you may be sharing a room of two beds with another member of the same sex from the group unless you paid the single supplement or you are going with someone with whom you requested to share.
If there is no one to share with, you will have a room to yourself, but you will not be required to pay a single supplement.
If you would like to guarantee yourself a single room throughout your tour, you can purchase the single supplement. The single supplement for this trip is $550. You can purchase the single supplement at check-out.
See below for examples of a casa particular :
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance for your trip to Cuba. We work with Travelex as our insurance provider. You can click on the link below to get a quote.
All U.S.-based flights going into Cuba usually include the cost of Cuban basic medical insurance in the ticket price which is required by the Cuban government. If you would like additional coverage such as trip cancellation, evacuation or medical care outside of Cuba, you would need to buy additional insurance.
When obtaining insurance for Cuba, you will be asked a few questions :
- Name of traveler(s)
- Date(s) of Birth
- Dates of travel
- Primary traveler’s phone number, address, city, state, zip
- Reason for Travel – Support for Cuban People (515.574)
- Name of Travel Agency /Service Provider – Globe Drifters, Location Number 05-1327
You can also shop around on the internet for a provider that fits your needs.
Once you obtain any insurance, please print out your policy and bring it with you on the trip.
There are no required vaccinations that Cuba requires you to have prior to visiting. Below is a link to the CDC website with more information about what vaccinations the United States recommends for travel to Cuba.
Price based on double occupancy. Single Supplement can be purchased for an additional $550.
Price based on double occupancy. Single Supplement can be purchased for an additional $550.