For U.S. citizens, Cuba has been known as a forbidden island. Luckily, with the recent ease in travel restrictions, any U.S. citizen that so desires (and has a passport) can now visit the home of Che Guevara, Hemingway, and classic 50’s cars.
Considered one of the top emerging destinations for 2016, we recommend you visit Cuba now while it still holds its old-world charm and character.
There are a few things you should know before you travel to Cuba. Most importantly, you still can’t explore Cuba on your own as an ordinary tourist. Your trip must fit into one of 12 approved travel categories. These include professional research, humanitarian projects, journalistic activities, educational activities, or family visits.
If you are interested in traveling to Cuba, your best bet is to select a “People-to- People” education program.
While an educational program may not sound like your idea of a vacation, tour operators and cruise lines offer plenty of options when it comes to exploring Cuba. You’ll find everything from walking and biking tours, ecological and adventure tours, culinary focused and Afro-Cuban music and dance tours.
And you’ll have plenty of opportunities mixed in to experience Cuba’s rich culture and to interact with Cuba’s warm and friendly people.
8 Things to Know Before You Travel to Cuba
- You will need a valid passport.
- Your travel must fit into one of the 12 sanctioned travel categories. Ordinary tourism (on your own) is still banned.
- Make your travel arrangements through your travel advisor, who will work with a “licensed travel service provider”, one who has been approved and licensed by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
- Take cash. Although the regulations open the doors to credit card use, U.S. credit cards and ATM cards do not work in Cuba at this time.
- Before you leave home, purchase a global SIM card for your smart phone or rent a cell phone. Cuba’s phone service is tenuous at best, and no U.S. phone company offers international roaming in Cuba.
- Most hotels have Internet connections, but only a few of them have WiFi and downloads can be very slow. As few as there are, WiFi is barely available outside of hotels.
- You can bring back $400 in Cuban souvenirs, including $100 worth of cigars and/or rum, if you so desire. Buy as much artwork as you want – it is considered “informational material” and not subject to dollar limitations.
- You can fly directly to Havana from Miami using charter flights as long as you book through a licensed travel service provider. In addition, the travel provider’s itinerary must comply with the permitted travel categories.
Cuba Tours We Recommend
Abercrombie & Kent recently launched their private seven-day Cuba itinerary, one of their Signature Events. with a tour of Old Havana led by a local architecture, a Buena Vista Social Club-style concert and cultural discussion, private salsa lessons, and a visit to a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
Pearl Seas offers the ultimate Cuba cruise experience with its 10-night voyage on its luxury yacht, the 100-passenger Pearl Mist. You’ll begin with two days in the capital city of Havana before sailing to Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.
International Expeditions offers three distinct people-to-people programs to explore the true essence of Cuba: Complete Cuba, Classic Arts & Culture, and Cuba Voyage, where you sail from Cienfuegos to Havana aboard on classic yacht.
Travcoa lets you visit Cuba in style with its luxury private jet journey to Cuba and South America. On this all-inclusive trip, you’ll fly to Havana from Miami and spend four days delving into the sights, sounds, and tastes of Cuba.
Tauck premiers its new 13-day in-depth cultural exchange itinerary in 2016. Traversing the length of Cuba, you’ll visit Havana, San Francisco de Paula, Santa Clara, Camagüey, Holguín along with other historically and culturally significant locations.
If Cuba is on your travel bucket list, let us help you find the right tour that matches your travel desires, dates, and pricing.