Travel Tips (Part 1)
1. Take enough cash
No one takes American credit and the US banks do not allow withdraws from ATM’s in Cuba. If you are not American check with your bank to see if your cards will work in Cuba. Even so, be aware that there aren’t many ATM’s. Current financial regulations make it exceedingly difficult to have money sent from the US.
So how much money (effectivo in Spanish) should I take? I exchanged $800 at the airport and got 697cuc.
If you eat 3 meals day – plan 5 cuc for breakfast, 5-10 cuc for lunch, 10-20 cuc for dinner depending if drink for an average $35 US per day. Casa Particulares (b and b’s) average 25 a night. The cost of transportation and tours vary but keep in mind that taxi’s can be expensive.
2. Book whatever you can online to save cash on hand. You can book Airbnb’s in Cuba from the US. I was unable to use Hotels.com to book or any other website for that matter.
Most people stay in casa particulares – which are rooms people rent out of their homes. Most are very nice with modern amenities like A/C, private bath, fans, TV’s etc – be sure to read the listing before you book.
3. If you want to stay at a resort or hotel book directly with a tourism office in Cuba (BUT YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY CASH). My husband found rate of $300 online for an all inclusive which I booked with the tourism office for 110 cuc. Like most places if you want good deal at the resort go in the off peak time. October was a great time – our resort was practically deserted. They said it packed over the holidays and much more expensive.
4. You might need electrical adapters if you use 110v – houses usually 220 here but some houses had both for different guests.
5. Taxis fairly expensive – in towns take bici-taxi (pedicab) or caballo taxi (horse pulling cart) – cheap and easy to find.
Try sharing a taxi – in some towns we are able to find someone who put people together (at travel agency office in Trinidad) then by luck in Los Cayos. It really helps to split the cost on long drives (it was 8 hours by taxi from Los Cayos to Vinales and cost 250 cuc.
6. Inter-city transportation
Cuba does not have a rail system and does not have any good transportation system (save for a few busses). Plan on hiring a private taxi.
7. Internet in Cuba
It’s very difficult to get online in Cuba. They only recently got wi-if and it’s only offered in town squares and some hotels. You must purchase internet cards for 2-3 cuc in towns and more for hotels. I recommend buying several at one time as they can be hard to come by.