If you have always wanted to travel to Cuba, then now is the time to go. For U.S. citizens, traveling to Cuba just became easier than it has been for more than 50 years. In March, groundbreaking new rules were passed that allow U.S. citizens to visit Cuba for “people-to-people” educational trips.
What in the world is a people-to-people educational trip? It’s a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities “designed to result in meaningful interactions between travelers and individuals in Cuba” (and yes, you have to participate in the itinerary by U.S. law). Don’t worry; it’s all the stuff you’d want to do in Cuba anyways.
These educational trips are not as bland as they sound. You can plan on visiting some of Cuba’s famous World Heritage sights, visiting some museums, or even just talking with the Cubans about their experiences while learning a bit about their lifestyle.
And to make your trip even easier; the government has also lifted the ban on using the U.S. dollar in transactions with Cuba. The currency foreigners must use in Cuba is called the convertible peso. One CUC$ is equal to US$1.
Easily Travel To Cuba
Best Time to Visit Cuba
Cuba has a subtropical climate. The temperatures are mild year round with the cooling trade winds that blow in from the coast. The hottest months are June, July, and August. The dry season starts in November and runs to April, and the wet season runs from May to October.
During the rainy season, the showers are heavy and short and should not interfere with your travel plans. During September and October, tropical storms and hurricanes are more prevalent but rarely cause problems for travelers.
Cuba’s Geography and Environment
Cuba is home to a diverse range of environments as it sits in the Caribbean Sea. You will experience rolling hills, tropical rainforests, tobacco plantations, coral reefs, and gorgeous beaches. Cuba has a vast majority of the region’s animal and plant species. More than 20% of the island contains natural parks, so there’s a tremendous amount of biodiversity, making it a perfect place for eco-adventures, hiking, snorkeling, and diving.
Havana is the capital of Cuba and is one of the larger cities. Havana is the city reminiscent of a place frozen in time. You will be amazed at some of the splendid buildings dating back to the 1950’s. They radiate a decaying grace not found elsewhere, which also makes daily life quite difficult at times.
Cuba has a lack of building materials, so new housing and infrastructure are rare. This limited housing can make for cramped living conditions for Cuban city-dwellers and visitors. Rural life will give you more space and a slower pace, but you will have less access to services. No matter where you travel in Cuba, the people are notoriously friendly, hospitable, and always willing to lend a helping hand.
Cuba’s Culture and Customs
Modern day Cuba is filled with a tapestry of cultural influences including Spanish, Creole, and African. This influx of cultures is evident in the food, music, and dance that the captivating Cuban people are happy to share with visitors. It’s well known that Cubans love to listen to music and dance. The streets are full of classic melodies along with Afro-Cuban rhythms. The music permeates throughout the restaurants, clubs, bars, and street corners.
You will find that Cuba also embraces the modern arts. Rising in popularity are the ballet, modern dance, and film. Havana is now home to many internationally recognized film, literary and music festivals.
Tips to Travel to Cuba
If you are an American citizen, American permanent resident, or hold any American Visa, and are considering traveling to Cuba, please refer to the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website – travel.state.gov for the latest advice.
Internet access isn’t widespread throughout Cuba, but availability is increasing. You can sometimes access the Internet from government departments and hotels. However, the connection may be slow, some websites may be censored, and the cost is typically high.
Your mobile phone may or may not work while in Cuba, depending on what type of phone you have. Before leaving home, be sure to activate global roaming with your provider. Moreover, be aware that your phone may not get reception due to Cuba having the lowest mobile phone coverage in all of Latin America.
Bring your own toilet paper and soap as these are rarely provided. Public toilets are rare in Cuba, but western-style flushable toilets are available in hotels, bars, and restaurants.
While in Cuba, you must use Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs) currency, but you can exchange money at the airport, hotels, or banks. Budget your cash and bring enough. Do not rely on debit or credit cards.
For more tips on traveling to Cuba, click here.