Cuba is a place that plays by its own rules – a fascinating time warp of a country with excellent architecture, sugary-white sandy beaches, rolling misty hills and a rhythmic soul. A holiday here is an awakening of the senses and a delicious venture into the unexpected.
It might take a bit of research for the perfect Cuban accommodation (hey, that’s what we’re here for), but dig a little deeper and you’ll find some real gems to house you during your stay. From Havana to Santiago, whether it’s five-star all-singing all-dancing boutique hotels you’re after or more of a home-from-home environment where you can get a true taste of Cuban life, we can help you get accommodation ticked off your to-do list.
Currency and Tips
Your holiday to Cuba is an effective digital detox – all television is tightly controlled by the Cuban government and while you may be able to track down a delicious coffee in the mornings, enjoying it with your preferred newspaper from home may be trickier, or near on impossible. Wifi is offered at top-end hotels, but it’s expensive and usually paid for by the hour (think $20 USD for one hour). Wifi hotspots and Internet cafes do exist, but the connection is snail-like, so it’s safer to assume you’ll have no Internet during your stay. It’s best to plan ahead (that’s where we come in!) for excursions, and download books, movies and TV shows you want beforehand.
Credit cards are accepted in some larger shops and hotels, but Cuba is by and large a cash economy. ATMs are often out of service, so it’s best to arrive with all the money you’ll need for your stay. Currency can only be changed on arrival in Cuba and there are two currencies – Cuban pesos for locals and convertible Cuban pesos (CUC) for tourists, which is valued at one US dollar for one CUC.
Cuba Public transportation
Public transportation in Cuba is notoriously a headache, with cancelled services and sold out journeys part of the deal. Taxis are one of the best ways to go from place to place and the good news is they’re not too expensive, plus you might even get to ride in a classic American car from the 1950s.
Hiring a car is an alternative option – it’s a heady prospect and while it’s not cheap, it does offer the best opportunity to get off the beaten track and navigate your own Cuban adventure away from the crowds. The process of hiring a car is not the easiest and it’s best to get it sorted before you arrive. Cuban cars aren’t most reliable either, so make sure you know the procedure for breakdowns.
Download any maps you’ll need ahead of your arrival and you’ll be ready to set off on the open road. The quality of roads is good although some need maintenance and it’s best not to travel too fast – sit back and enjoy the journey – the landscape is bountiful and flows freely all around.
Aside from the friendly locals to welcome you into Trinidad, Cayo Coco or Varadero, there are less pleasant creatures awaiting your arrival, especially at dusk – mosquitos and jejenes, or sand fleas. They can often be found in the early morning or evening on the beaches – jejenes lie in the sand or nearby patches of grass and can jump up to 15 inches. Wear insect repellent, avoid the beach at cooler times and always lie on a towel or sun lounger to prevent bites. Talking of beaches, Cuba is full of beautiful sandy beaches, with many tucked away out of sight and they tick all of the tropical postcard boxes you dream of – azure waters, palm-fringed sands and colourful fish that dance in the shallows.
Whether you’re heading to Cuba for the idyllic beaches, timeworn-but-captivating cities or the contagious Latin rhythm of life – there’s a haphazard, frozen-in-time, mystical magic here that’s undeniable and totally unique. Plan wisely and it’ll be all your holiday dreams rolled into one.