Travel Diary: A quick checklist before you visit Cuba.

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Our Rental
Our Rental

I always, always wanted to visit Cuba - the one place we couldn't get to for the longest time. I wanted to the see the island so close to the US  that you could almost reach it with your hands. I went April 10th, 2019 with my boyfriend to celebrate our anniversary. The flight from Miami to Havana, was plus/minus 60 minutes. It was so quick that I didn't even have time to finish my Devil Wears Prada movie. But I was ready to explore Cuba and see Havana.

No one we knew has ever traveled to Cuba and it was up to us to tell them how it really was and of course bring some Cuba cigars back. The place we chose to stay was an Airbnb rental and It was worth every penny if not more. We wanted to stay with the locals and really experience Cuba.

Before we started our travels, we did a lot of research things we would need to know before traveling to Cuba. Below is my Cuba travel checklist.

Where to begin:

  • Tourist Visa:
    • Once we purchase our tickets online we also paid $50 dollars for the Tourists Visa. You can also purchase it at your airport but the prices might vary depending of your location. Make sure you fill out the Visa correctly because you will be paying a fee for messing up. These things are not free.
    • There are 12 categories of authorized travel for Americans. If you are traveling for pleasure you need to pick "Support for the Cuban people". It's the most common one and the one that you can get by. When we landed in Cuba, the security doesn't really check or ask much so this is just in case someone asks.
  • Money in Cuba:
    • We exchanged our money at our local bank. There are few things that you need to know about Cuban Money.
      • CUP (Cuban Peso Nacional) is used primarily by locals. It's typically 25 CUP/1USD but it also depends on the exchange rate. I suggest not to use this currency.
      • CUC ( Cuban Convertible Peso) is the way to go. It is used in the tourism industry for currency. It's 1:1 and is easier to exchange.
    • Try to exchanging your money at your bank but if you don't, you can always do it at the airport or find a Cadeca - a currency exchange office.
  • Toilet Paper:
    • Depending on how long you are staying bring at least 2-3 rolls. None of the restaurants or shopping mall bathrooms had toilet paper. Hotels could vary. Our Airbnb apartment came with the toilet paper so it depends.
  • App To Download:
    • The first one is MAPS.ME app on your phone. It's an offline map so you can get around easier. There is no Wifi in Cuba. There are a lot of hotspots. You can purchase the cards at the hotels for different amount and different hours of usage. At our place we paid a $1 for an hour - we spend $6 in total.
    • AlaMesa is the second app I want you to download. It shows you all the restaurants around you. We used it everyday and discovered one of the best ceviche dishes and plantains.
Tourist Visa
Tourist Visa

Our Airbnb Rental:

Book your stay through Airbnb. One thing you have to remember is that Cuban government owns everything including the hotels and restaurants. We decided since we were coming to support the Cuban people we were going to do it the right way.

We stayed in an apartment that was run by a sweet family. We had our own private bedroom, kitchen and a full bathroom to ourselves. They lived down the hall from us and every morning we would be served fresh fruits, juices and full breakfast for $80/per night. Hotel prices are between $300-500/per night.

Our place was in Verdado where we were overlooking the main street Avenida de los Presidentes. We were 10 minutes away from the sea wall called Malecon and 2 minutes away from all the restaurants and nightclubs. I recommend going on Airbnb and choosing a place where you are going to stay because it's cheaper and better.

End Note:

Cuba is an amazing place to visit. People are sweet, welcoming and very loving of Americans. I never felt in danger even when we walked through some rough parts of the city. Explore the place and hangout with locals because you will truly get to experience the real Cuba. Happy Travels!

XoXo Nina

 

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