I had written that I would do another Cuba post and I am doing that now. My primary thing to post is this video I made that I am so happy about! It blows me away that I made this video on my Samsung S8 with a handheld stabilizer from Zhiyun Tech called “Smooth Q” which cost me about $100. I took the video riding on a bicycle in Havana and it contains a real slice of life in Havana. It’s really fun to watch I think and it matches perfectly with the sort of current Pop song “Havana”. Please enjoy and if you like it please share it! After you watch you can read more tips on your Cuba Visit!
- American Credit cards and bank cards don’t function in Cuba. You need to bring cash. This can be daunting because Cuba is inexpensive but things still add up and it’s hard to estimate. The upside is that crime is extremely rare in all of Cuba and every lodging I was at had a lockbox or just lock your money into your bag. It’s really hard to estimate costs because everyone is so different. I brought a couple of thousand dollars for 2.5 weeks and I left with almost $1000 left over but I would rather be safe than sorry. That said, If you pay for all of your hotels via Booking.com or Airbnb (see below) this can significantly lower the cash you will need.
- The internet isn’t highly available in Cuba and so traveling in Cuba is not as “internet easy” as most of the world, at least not now. The system is that you buy cards which are like scratch off lottery cards which give you logon ID that lasts 1 hour for $1 (I will use the $ to refer to the Cuban CUC which I will talk about later – currently it’s worth about $1.10 US). The internet is only available in certain places such as (oddly) public parks. If you are not staying at major hotels it is most likely that your lodging will not have internet. All this means is you need to think about things slightly differently.
- As a result of this, option #1 is to make all of your hotel reservations in advance. Airbnb and booking.com have places available in every city in the country. If your comfort level with taking things on the fly is low then make sure to book everything and you will be happy. Culturally Cubans seem to be very reliable if they agree to something. In other words if you book on Airbnb they will make sure that they get you what you need to arrive properly at their rental.
- For the flexible traveler who is willing to go with the flow and not be stuck to an agenda which is how I like to travel, be happy to know this – there is a network in Cuba. Your initial AirBnb booking will be connected with people all over the country with housing which is roughly similar to their own. My Havana AirBnB host arranged all of my other accommodations and everyone was fine with the idea “Well, maybe I will stay here a night but maybe three”. It was incredibly easy.
- In Havana my #1 recommendation if you are comfortable with Bicycles in general is to rent a bike from this company. Havana is a big city but it’s mainly flat and the bikes are in excellent condition. The prices are great and you have total flexibility. They also offer tours which I was told were excellent by clients (I chose to make my own agenda) Bike Rentals of Havana
- If you enjoy history, people watching and museums I would definitely spend at least three days in Havana itself. The Museum of the Revolution and the Bella Arts will take a day alone and they are really something to see. The four Plazas of Havana are again, worth an entire day and just perusing the city in general is a sea of visual stimulation.
- Know this before you go – transit between cities is not easy. Travel in Cuba seems that any way you choose to move – is a process. The roads are bad. There are freeway sections which move quick but anywhere you are going outside of Havana requires at least an hour on a potholed road and when I say “at least” it’s because if you chose to only go to Havana and Venales you can do it with the one hour. If you include anything else, brace up for long rides in either collective taxi, bus or expensive rental car.
- I will say this part again – given how close Havana is to Florida I can highly recommend a four day trip and things will be pretty smooth and easy travel. Past Havana Cuba is exciting, fun, safe, interesting and often beautiful but it’s not a simple place to get around. It’s rough travel and I don’t believe there is really a five star way to do it ….. but … do it!
So, These are a few tips. I hope it inspires you and if you have any questions send me a message and I am happy to help you arrange your visit! Cuba (at least Havana) is a place that is so cool and so easy to reach it seems a shame to miss it! Go there!!!!!
Oh, remember to watch the video, to like it and to share and now I will leave you with a few more new photos!