Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cuba safe?
Yes! Of course, when you travel you should exercise caution and be mindful that you are in new place, but on the whole Cuba (including Havana) is extremely safe and very welcoming to tourists. Our escorted tours are recommended for those travellers who feel more comfortable travelling as part of a group, however travelling alone and freely is very safe in Cuba.
Do I need a visa for Cuba?
A Cuban tourist visa/tourist card is required for all tourists and is valid for 90 days after arrival, and can be extended for a further 90 days locally. Tourist visas are not electronic/invisible and do need to be sent by post to you before travel. One visa is required per passenger (including children and infants) for each entry and each exit. If you are travelling out of Cuba and returning, or are going on a cruise, you will need to travel with the appropriate number of visas for each passenger.
How long should my passport be valid for to travel to Cuba?
Your ten-year passport should have at least 2 blank pages and must be valid for at least 6 months on the date of your arrival home from Cuba. If your passport validity does not cover this, we strongly recommend renewing well before travel. Your travel documents must match the name on your passport exactly, and children and infants must have their own passport.
Can Captivating Cuba arrange my Cuban tourist visa?
Yes, we are permitted by the Cuban consulate to issue tourist visas and keep a stock in our own offices. We will include your visa(s) with your quotation and will send your visas to you around 2 weeks prior to travel.
I am flying on a direct flight from the USA to Cuba, can Captivating Cuba provide my visa?
If you are arriving in Cuba on a direct flight from the USA, you will be required to purchase a pink Cuban tourist visa when you are in the USA on your departure to Cuba (estimated $50 - $100 per person). US authorities will not accept green Cuban tourist visas that have been issued in the UK for travel on direct USA-Cuba flights. If you are combining your trip to Cuba with a visit to the USA, please ensure you read fully our booking terms and conditions and destination advice which provides very important information on USA Travel.
What clothes should I take to Cuba?
We recommend taking light cotton/natural fibres layers of clothing (with some warmer layers if you are travelling from November to end of February). In general, Cuba has a relaxed attitude when it comes to how people dress. If you plan on biking/hiking/walking/horse-riding do remember suitable comfortable footwear and appropriate protective clothing. For clients going on our escorted tours, we recommend taking comfortable walking shoes/boots.
The Tropicana cabaret show, some restaurants (particularly a la carte restaurants in all-inclusive beach resorts and upmarket hotels in Havana) operate a dress code policy including long trousers/smart jeans for men, a shirt, and proper shoes so do pack accordingly. In case of delayed or lost baggage, we suggest packing at least one change of clothes in your hand luggage. Don’t forget your sunglasses and a sun hat! A rain mac and umbrella may also come in useful in rainy season (May – October).
Do I need to pay Cuban departure tax?
Effective May 2015 the mandatory Cuban departure tax of CUC 25 is included in the cost of your air ticket, therefore this is no longer paid in cash at the airport on departure from Cuba.
What is typical Cuban food?
The local food, which is predominantly creole style, is mainly chicken, pork, seafood, beans, fruit and rice with many larger resort hotels offering a wide selection of international food. Unlike other nearby countries, Cuban food is not usually hot and spicy. Desserts are often fruit, pastry or cream/milk based. Please talk to us for advice if you have special dietary requirements.
What is the voltage in Cuba?
The voltage in Havana is usually 110V AC 60Hz, some newer hotels 220V AC 60 Hz. Cuban power outlets are often suited for use with the US American2 flat pin electrical plugs however the more modern hotels have 2 round pins. As the electricity supply can vary depending on the age of the building, we strongly recommend taking a worldwide adaptor.
Can I book experiences and excursions before travel?
Yes, please contact us to discuss your ideas further or browse our brochure.
What are the health and vaccine requirements for Cuba?
Visitors to Cuba should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK. These vaccinations include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-polio, and typhoid and hepatitis A. Please contact your GP and visit the following websites for the most up to date information. www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/cuba http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/locations/cuba/#General_information
Do I need Travel Insurance?
Yes. Do ensure that all members of your party travelling have comprehensive medical and travel insurance, and accessible funds for unplanned treatment and repatriation. It is very important that you ensure that your insurance policy does cover you for travel to Cuba as some policies issued by companies with USA ownership or underwriters do not. Carry in your hand luggage policy details and emergency contact details of your insurer. Do check that any activities that you might do are covered (e.g. scuba diving, horse riding, cycling, zip wire, speed boats etc.). Note that some policies will specify that activities require safety equipment or qualifications such as safety helmets, riding hats, BSAC/PADI certificate etc. and you must make sure you take any appropriate precautions.
Can I use internet and Wi-Fi in Cuba?
Travellers often expect when abroad, that internet access, Wi-Fi and roaming is readily available at little cost, however in Cuba the situation is very different. Internet access and Wi-Fi are still very tightly controlled by the state and whilst it is possible to obtain access to the internet in most hotel lobbies, public areas and some hotel rooms, there is a cost to this access which is usually approximately 1.50 CUC - 2 CUC per hour (approx. £1.50). Access can be prone to very slow speeds (downloads take a long time), intermittent connection and often a frustrating experience.
Will my mobile phone work in Cuba?
As a rule, the mobile phone network in Cuba is focused on the main cities and resorts where coverage can be surprisingly good, but still liable to connection problems and delays in sending and receiving text messages With the lack of Wi-Fi availability, opportunities for instant messaging using social media are very limited. In countryside areas when travelling in Cuba, you will find little or no coverage at all.
We suggest that you speak to your mobile provider before leaving for Cuba and arrange the best possible package of calls, texts and roaming. Making calls, receiving calls and roaming charges are very expensive so check charges before you travel. Often stored phone numbers will not show when a call is received.
Is Cuba LGBT friendly?
Same sex relationships are legal in Cuba, although on occasion travellers in areas less frequented by tourists may experience a lack of understanding. We are more than happy to book accommodation and request sleeping arrangements that make you most comfortable, and if you plan on staying in Casas Particulares we can discreetly check that the owners are open minded and will whole-heartedly welcome guests regardless of orientation. In Cuba, gay relationships are sometimes kept low key, so public affection may draw some attention however in Havana and other major cities, it is becoming more widely accepted.
What can I buy in Cuba?
Shopping mainly consists of souvenir items such as art, handicrafts, books, music, t-shirts, rum, and cigars. Cuba is famous for its excellent quality cigars which can be purchased at low prices. The majority of cigars come from the west of Cuba, in the Pinar Del Rio province. There are also cigar factories in Havana.
When is Cuba’s Peak Season?
Whilst Cuba is a year-round destination, and due to the huge influx of tourists is busy all the time, peak season is regarded as November to April, with low season being May to October.
What is the time difference in Cuba?
GMT -5 hours, however there can be an overlap for a week or so when UK time changes and Cuba does not, when there is a -4 hour time difference.
What currency do they use in Cuba?
Cuba operates a dual currency system. Visitors normally use the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), whereas locals use the Cuban Peso (CUP). It is very rare that a visitor to Cuba would have or need CUP. It is not possible to purchase CUC before you travel to Cuba as it is a closed currency. We recommend taking sterling (GBP) with you in cash noting that Scottish notes generally are not accepted in Cuba due to a lack of understanding of their origin.
Do I need to tip?
Tipping is becoming a more recognised part of the Cuban society and generally with the economic hardships experienced on the island, local people rely on tips to be able to purchase the basic requirements for their families. It is not uncommon for a person to work in a tourist related activity and support through tips an extended family. In some parts of Cuba, the behaviour where tipping is a pre-requisite to service generally is now evident in these changing times on the island. Tipping is not compulsory and totally discretionary so please do not feel forced to tip.
What is the weather like in Cuba?
The driest months to travel are from November to April. December and January can get cool at night so warm layers or a jacket are recommended. In the summer months especially, temperatures are hot and it can get very humid. In the Caribbean, hurricane season is from June to November, with September being the peak time. It is impossible to predict when a hurricane may occur and tourists visit throughout the year.
Average temperatures – Havana
Average hours of sunshine – Havana
Average Rainfall - Havana
What are the journey times around Cuba?
Approximate Journey Times by Car Without Stopping
|Baracoa||Santiago de Cuba||4.5|
|Cayo Santa Maria||Varadero||5|
|Cienfuegos||El Nicho National Park||1.5|
|Havana City||Havana Airport||0.5|
|Havana||Cayo Santa Maria||6|
|Holguin City||Holguin Airport||15 minutes|
|Las Terrazas||Cayo Levisa||2|
|Las Terrazas||Santa Clara||4.5|
|Sancti Spiritus||El Nicho National Park||2|
|Santa Clara||Cayo Coco||4|
|Santa Clara||Cayo Santa Maria||2|
|Santa Clara||Sugar Mill Valley||1.5|
|Santiago de Cuba||Sierra Maestra||3.5|
|Trinidad||Cayo Coco/Cayo Guillermo||5|
|Trinidad||Cayo Santa Maria||4|
|Trinidad||El Nicho National Park||1.5|
|Trinidad||Sugar Mill Valley||0.5|