Cuba

Destination Inspiration

Cuba

Destination Inspiration

by Amanda Connolly January 2017

We took a last minute spontaneous trip to Cuba to unplug, unwind and step away from our cameras and computers after a busy year of building the company. We had little time to research & prep, so we decided to wing it. Here are some things we learned as Americans traveling to Cuba:

  • You need travelers health insurance & a travel visa card: Check to see what is included in your airline ticket price. We flew Spirit Airline from BWI > Havana for $150 RT. The health insurance was included in our tickets, we had to buy the travel visa separately. You can buy them at a Cuban consulate or online ahead of time, which can cost between $15-$50. Or you can buy them at the Havana airport for 20 CUC (about $20), which is what we had planned to do, but Spirit wouldnt let us on the plane without one, so we had to buy ours from them for $100 a pop!
  • As of now, ATMs still do not take American Debit or Credit cards, they said this will change in the near future,but to date your cards will not work in Cuba. So bring plenty of cash with you. It is best to bring Euros with you, you will get the best rate. We brought $900 cash with us for 2 weeks, we lived pretty "royally" (ate & drank whatever, whenever without giving much thought to it) and we had to bum 5 CUC off someone to pay for our bus back to the airport (HA!). Moral of the story, bring a bit more than you think you need!

Dont stay at an over priced hotel. Get the real Cuba experience and stay at a Casa Particular. You can get a room for between 10-50 CUC and you have to pleasure of staying with an adorable Cuban family. We actually used AirBnB to book our stay at an amazing Casa just outside of Old Havana. We had a loft with our own kitchen & bathroom & a  private patio (top photo & bottom right) with 360 degree views of Malecon. The family that owned the place lived on the floor below & were so incredibly nice, friendly & helpful. Definitely recommend staying there! NOTE: booking an AirBnB online from Cuba is not possible! So book your accommodations before your trip.

Havana was beautiful & everything we were hoping for. A vibrant & colorful step back in time. The people were nice & welcoming and the weather was just right to escape the cold US east coast winter. A few things to look out for:

  •  being short changed: taxi drivers & shop owners will tell you they dont have change, dont buy it! Tell them you will have to go break you bill elsewhere & they will suddenly have change. Also, make sure they are giving you CUCs & not Cuban Pesos!
  • Catching a ride in an American Classic Car taxi: They well kept ones will cost you, but if you are willing to wait & haggle a bit, you can find one to drive you along the Malecon for 3-5 CUC

You cant visit Cuba without heading to one of its many beautiful beaches. We spend out last 5 days in Cuba on the beaches of Varadero. Crystal clear water like you wouldnt believe! We stayed at a child free all inclusive and spent our booze filled days in glorious silence. We would definitely love to make this our new Christmas holiday tradition!

And because we have had people ask: for our visa we choose "Educational Purposes". Michael & I went through customs in Cuba & coming back into the US separately. No one asked either of us anything on either side. They didnt ask us why we were visiting when entering Cuba & no one asked us why we were in Cuba when we were entering back into the Sates. So go to Cuba! Have a good time, hang with the locals, drink lots of rum, catch some sun, and be worry free! If you have any questions feel free to ask!

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Drink Mojitos all day! You get get them for between 1-4 CUC all of the city. We loved this little blue balcony bar run out of someone home in the center of Old Havana. Cuba has amazing rum and its cheap! You can get a bottle of Havana Club for around 3 CUC & some high quality 10 year aged for about 14 CUC. Cheers!

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