Navigating Cuba

2 March 17

Author: Kacie Fogg

Cuba, a beautiful Caribbean Island enriched with fascinating culture, notable history, and distinct architecture, has recently been opened to American travelers, who can finally explore the country for the first time since the ‘60s. Cuba is an easy destination to reach–just a short distance south of Florida with plenty of non-stop flight options. With beautiful sandy beaches, charming old cities, and friendly locals, Cuba’s culture makes it an authentic and exciting travel destination. Here are some important things to know before you plan your getaway.

Know the Rules and Restrictions

Cuba has 12 different visa options for American travelers. The most popular is the people-to-people visa, which requires that travelers schedule a full cultural immersion itinerary.  Activities include learning about the architecture, history, art, and economy, including the production of rum and cigars. Some other visa options include professional research, support for the Cuban people, family visits, or journalistic activity. American travelers must have a documented itinerary to show to U.S. Customs upon returning to the country. Hiring a travel consultant can help you get the right documentation while ensuring an incredible experiences, so you can feel confident that you will have a great time without breaking the rules.

Immerse Yourself in the Culture

Cuba’s rich culture and history differentiates itself from the other Caribbean islands, so don’t expect to book an all-inclusive hotel and sit on the beach sipping a cocktail the entire time. Talk to your consultant about making some meal reservations at a paladar, which is a family-owned and run restaurant that offers homemade Cuban food. Usually featuring live music and dancing, paladares offer a fun way to immerse travelers in genuine Cuban cuisine and culture.

Be Adventurous

If you are going to Cuba on the people-to-people visa, you must be prepared to be adventurous and discover the Cuban culture. So, hire a classic restored car from the ‘50s or ‘60s and cruise around the city of Havana, or explore the scenic mountains and beaches. Cuba offers so many options to embrace the culture. Your travel consultant can discuss interesting tour options with you, such as learning about famous Cuban cigars, seeing firsthand how rum is made, or taking a dancing class! If you enjoy a cool nightlife scene, the Tropicana Cabaret show is known for being the best Cabaret in the Americas. Cuba has so much to offer, so take a chance and experience everything that makes it so special.

Join a Tour Group

If you tend to be a more cautious traveler, ask your consultant about all-inclusive tours. These vacations afford a stress-free way to see almost the entire island of Cuba while experiencing the culture. Your guide will take care of transportation, hotels, food, sightseeing, and cultural activities so that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip. These trips tend to be pricier than booking your own accommodations, but they are definitely worth the extra cost if you want to be guaranteed a stress-free, and exciting trip.

Understand the Currency

Credit cards are not widely accepted in Cuba. It is possible to be locked out of your bank account just by trying to log in to your online banking. With this mind, you must take into account that you will only be able to pay in cash while visiting the island. Cuba also has two different currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the Cuban peso (CUP). The CUC is equivalent to about $1.00 USD and is the currency that tourists use on the island, as most goods and services are paid for with this currency. The CUC is not traded internationally, so you will have to exchange your money at a local bank once you arrive.

Enlist an Expert

With recreational travel just recently allowed for Americans, information about navigating Cuba still is not widely available. Consider hiring a travel consultant with experience in Cuba to help you easily navigate the island and make the most of your time in this spectacular country.

Ready to book your Cuban adventure? Schedule an appointment with our Cuba specialist today.

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