What to Know Before Traveling to Cuba

7 great travel tips for Cuba

By Iain Lightfoot

Noon In Trinidad

Image by bud ellison – from the street used under Creative Commons license

Thinking of a trip to a Cuba, but not quite sure what you need? I’ve worked along with Thomson to bring you a short guide to the things that you should know before you and your partner fly out, and why you’ll have a magical time together while you’re out there. Take note of this and you’re in for a special trip.

You need a visa

If you’re from the US and are travelling to Cuba, you’ll need a visa. Touristic travel to Cuba is not permitted under U.S. regulations, so if you do wish to visit the island you’ll have to apply for a visa. Having a “valid” reason to travel to Cuba, such as visiting family or taking part in an educational activity, will help your application and you may not require a license for this.

No spending limits

You may have heard that there are spending limits for U.S. travelers while they’re in Cuba. There aren’t. Be aware, however, that this is for goods consumed within Cuba. You can only bring $400 worth of goods from Cuba back into the U.S. This merchandise must be for personal consumption and no more than $100 worth of it can be in tobacco products or alcohol products. So take note all you Bacardi and cigar lovers out there on Cuba holidays!

Cash only

It’s always advisable to take a credit card when you travel, but Cuba mostly deals with cash, so take enough money in cash to last you throughout the stay. Confusingly, the Cubans have two different currencies: the Cuban National Peso (CUP) and the Convertible Peso (CUC). Convert your money into CUCs, which the Cubans use the most, particularly amongst tourists. If you’re not sure if a price is in CUPs or CUCs, just ask. The CUP is normally for local transportation and for produce sold on local markets.

What’s so good about Cuba for couples?

Much has been said about the nostalgic air surrounding Cuba. That’s thanks to the common sight of Buicks cruising along the street, not to mention the immensely leisurely pace of life in Cuba. Features like this will make you feel as if you’re a million miles away from it all. Here are just a few more aspects that make Cuba perfect for you and your loved one.

Playa Azul

Image by kudumomo used under Creative Commons license

Beaches

Cuba is a destination par excellence if you want to spend a little time there soaking up the sun. Destinations like Varadero, on the north coast of Cuba, reward you with 20 kilometers of beach, while Cayo Santa Maria, which is 100 miles off the north coast of Cuba and is part of the Jardines del Rey archipelago, has ‘castaway location’ written all of it. You can’t fail to relax on the beaches of Cuba.

Salsa dancing in Havana

Nowhere does like salsa dancing like Havana. The two of you can get enjoy this cute Cuban style of dance together alongside the locals and really let your hair down. This popular form of dance is deeply Cuban and you’ll feel the passion of the locals for it. There’s no shortage of dance schools around Havana for you to master your steps.

The sunsets

You haven’t seen a sunset until you’ve seen a Cuban sunset. Nothing is more romantic than strolling along a Cuban beach as the sun sets. Why not finish your romantic walk off with a refreshing cocktail? Mojitos are just another of those Cuban delights!

So get prepared and make the most of your time to savor some of the beauty of Cuba together. You might even want to extend that visa!

About the Author:

Iain Lightfoot is a retired Latin American studies lecturer. He spends his retirement exploring the world and is always willing to learn a new language.

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