You may have noticed that I’ve been off the radar for a few days. Well, that’s because I was on vacation in CUBA! A lot of you have been asking if it’s even legal for Americans to visit the island and I can assure you that it is. Although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, my friends and I had an absolute blast.
There are some things you should keep in mind though:
1. Bring cash
Cuban businesses and banks do not accept American money or credit cards so make sure you bring enough cash for your trip. We found that by bringing Euros and exchanging them for CUC (cuban money) at the airport, you actually save money by avoiding a hefty 10% fee. So go to your local bank and ask for euros before you leave.
2. Make friends with the locals
Cubans are seriously stoked that Americans are visiting their country. I can’t even count how many times men came up to us and said “America! Welcome to our country! Happy holiday!” Don’t get creeped out and ignore them because they are genuinely excited to meet you. One man even led us across the city to find a great deal on cigars because we were his “neighbor” during the trip.
3. Don’t bring up politics
Although cubans will talk about Obama til the cows come home, DO NOT bring up Fidel Castro. I made that mistake in a taxi cab one night and the driver was not enthused. He proceeded to roll up the windows and claim that the car might be bugged. Soooo that’s off limits.
4. Don’t expect wifi
Unless you are staying in a 5 star hotel, don’t expect wifi. Cuba is still pretty underdeveloped so there are only a handful of places you can find internet access. In order to get connected, you’ll have to find a hotel or local park and buy an internet card. Or you could just unplug for a week and enjoy yourself.
5. Prepare for the unexpected
You’re not supposed to drink the water in Cuba but make sure you pack Pepto Bismol just in case you do. Also, you’ll probably be drinking mojitos and cuba libres 24/7 so go ahead and pack some advil as well.
6. Enjoy Yourself
Above all, have a great time. The beaches are INCREDIBLE especially Santa Maria Del Mar in Havana. If you are heading to Varadero for a few days, check out the Beatles Bar which is decked out in classic rock decor and offers live oldies music.
So, would I recommend traveling to Cuba? Absolutely! But it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re a total diva, head to Belize or Cozumel instead.