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Cuba

Cuba

Destination Inspiration

Take a step back in time into a vibrant, spellbinding world of years gone by; wander through picture perfect old quarters and colorful cobbled streets; feel the sizzling energy of Son and Rumba as they pound the streets with their alluring beats; and of course, take a ride in a vintage car that’s just far too cool. It can only be one place, and this year it’s on everyone’s lips as the hottest destination, 'one to get to before it’s too late'. Over to you Cuba!

Travel Cuba

Languages Spoken

The official language of Cuba is Spanish and it is the first language of around 90% of the population. Creole is also spoken by many Cubans.

Travel Cuba

Currency

Two currencies are used in Cuba, Convertibles (mainly used by tourists) and Pesos / Moneda Nacional (mainly used by locals). 1 Convertible (CUC$) is currently roughly worth 25 Pesos / Moneda Nacional (MN$).

Travel Cuba

Time Zone

GMT -5, meaning you'll be in the same timezone as New York, and 3 hours ahead of LA.

GETTING THERE

Flights to Cuba are now available from many different airlines:  American Airlines, Delta, United, JetBlue, COPA, AeroMexico and Avianca. A Travel Expert can help you book the flight itinerary that works best for your travel.  Flights to Cuba can only be booked in conjunction with a guided tour.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Cuba has a similar climate to Southern Florida. Rain is typical between May and early November. Peak season then follows and the island is at its busiest with tourism through until March with cooler, drier weather. April and October can be good times to visit, as the island is a bit quieter and the weather more stable.
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Highlights of Cuba

Cuba is a land of diversity. From the green hills and tobacco plantations of Viñales to its heavenly Caribbean beaches; the quaint alleys of Trinidad to the hustle and bustle of Havana, Cuba has something for everyone and enough to keep visitors enchanted for a lifetime.

Havana

Cuba’s exhilarating capital, this vivacious city is bursting with soul, history and a culture like nowhere else. Musicians erupt on the streets, dilapidated buildings ooze with old world charm, and locals and visitors catch rides in the coolest cars on earth. As your gateway to Cuba, Havana leaves an impression on you that lasts forever. Viva la Habana!
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Viñales

In total contrast to Cuba’s capital, Viñales is a laid back, lush green area of beautiful hills and old plantations, not forgetting a coast with some of the best diving on the island. See a more traditional side to Cuban life in this western province. Get off the beaten track on a bicycle ride through the valley, go hiking in the national park and try your luck spotting some local sea turtles.
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Trinidad

Catapult yourself back in time to the colonial gem of Trinidad! Now a UNESCO heritage town, it's amazingly photogenic. Wander through winding, cobbled streets, visit hidden old churches and stay in the onetime homes of the Spanish gentry who thrived on the local sugar industry. And let’s not forget, Trinidad is home to some of the best music salons on the island – so get your groove at the ready!
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Guided Tour of Cuba

There is no better time to visit Cuba! With our partner Intrepid Travel's 9-day Hola Cuba adventure, explore Havana’s crumbling churches and vibrant nightlife on a guided walking tour. Pay your respects to the famous revolutionary Che Guevara at his mausoleum in Santa Clara. Wind your way down rural dirt roads, through the valleys and farms of rural Pinar del Rio, then on to the Afro-inspired beats of tropical Trinidad. Along the way, we’ve assembled a colourful cast of Cuban characters to give you a proper welcome: tobacco farmers, expert chefs, local artists, historians and salsa teachers, that understand where Cuba came from, where the country sits now and, more importantly, where it’s going.

9 Day Hola Cuba

People-to-People package

From $3,999Incl. Flights
  • Maximum 16 travelers per group
  • Includes 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners
  • Accomodation: Private homestays, known as 'Casa Particulars'
  • Transport: Private coach transfer
  • Airport transfers included*
  • Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, Cienfuegos

Traveling to Cuba: What you need to know

Cuba has only very recently popped up on the holiday map for U.S. citizens. In fact, we've only been allowed across its borders since 2009, and there's still a lot of grey areas surrounding how we can get there and see it for ourselves. Now, with People-to-People trips like Intrepid Travel's Hola Cuba package, it's easier than ever, but there's still lots of important information you need to know before you go. Read on, or click through to our FAQs and Important Information to swat up on everything from visas, currency, budget, laws around tourism and what exactly 'People-to-People' licenced trips are...

What does the term 'People-to-People Travel' mean?

People-to-People itineraries have been carefully planned to provide personal experiences with Cuba’s locals, immersing you in everyday life in order to foster a better understanding of what makes Cuba such a fascinating place. You'll be staying in family homestays to get a real taste of the Cuban lifestyle, which means it's quite a rigorous itinerary.

As of January 16, 2015, Intrepid U.S. is authorized to provide these People-to-People trips, under the requirements set forth by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Since you are travelling to Cuba under OFAC’s People-to-People general license, the U.S. government requires you to participate in the guided, educational activities. This means that you must participate in all scheduled activities on your itinerary. Hence, unlike other Intrepid U.S. trips, you cannot opt out of anything scheduled. For more information about People-to-People trips and the regulations that every participant must abide by whilst on one, it's vital you read the information on our special Cuba FAQ's page here.

Can Americans travel to Cuba?

U.S. Citizens can travel to Cuba, but are required to have a Tourist Card or Visa for entry into the country. All Tourist Cards are provided to U.S. Citizens traveling to Cuba at their last point of embarkment prior to arriving to Cuba. It is important to check for the latest information on the Cuban consular website, however your STA Travel Expert will also be happy to point you in the right direction when you call to book or inquire.

Will I be able to use my credit or debit card in Cuba?

Some vendors in Cuba are now set up to process international bank cards, but many card machines and ATMs may not recognise American ones. Therefore it's best to travel with sufficient cash and remember to only put what you need in your wallet from day to day, whilst leaving the main bulk somewhere safe at your accommodation. Prices in Cuba are similar to those in the United States, so this may be used as your guide on how much cash you'll need.

* Terms, Conditions and Important Information

Important Notes:
1. Round trip flights and transfers are included.
2. Intrepid US, Inc. ("Intrepid US") is authorized partner of STA Travel Inc., to provide those who register as participants in our programs to visit Cuba legally for educational people-to-people interactions. Our "Cuban Adventures" program provides a full-time schedule of People-to-People educational exchange activities designed to result in meaningful interactions between our travelers and individuals in Cuba. United States law requires that all participants in our programs adhere to the full-time schedule of people-to-people activities. Due to the nature of the program, United States law requires adherence to a special set of guidelines for travel on these unique programs. Please read the guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions (outlined under "Important Notes" section of trip notes) carefully, and call our special Cuba connection line at 1 800 970 7299 or visit www.intrepidtravel.com if you have questions. Additional pre or post accommodation will not be allowed due to licensing restrictions. Please read the guidelines and Frequently Asked Questions carefully. Additional pre or post accommodation will not be allowed due to licensing restrictions. Deviations from itinerary in any way is prohibited.
3. You must fill out and sign an official ‘Travel Affidavit’ which verifies that you understand the current restrictions on travel to Cuba. This will be provided to you from your Travel Expert. Additional 'Travel Affidavit's' may be necessary depending on airline.
4. You must ensure you have your ‘Tourist Card’ and have a valid passport.

5. Purchasing travel insurance is a requirement and without proof of travel insurance you may not be allowed entry into Cuba.

6. In order to participate in this tour, you must be a U.S. citizen.


Group Size:

Maximum of 16 travelers per group.

Accommodation:

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

Your typical accommodation will be a Casa Particular which is a private homestay accommodation in an authentic Cuban family home which is licensed by the Cuban government. Cuban families often rent some bedrooms to tourists and offer meals which are served in the family dining room. It is a wonderful way to experience the warm Cuban hospitality and learn about their unique way of life. In a society with limited TV and internet access, Cuban people are famed for their friendly attitudes and for making eager conversation with foreigners so they can learn about the outside world. They are also happy to share their insights about life in Cuba and there's no doubt that the interaction at a Casa Particular will be enlightening and intriguing.

 


Meals:

8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners


Transport:

Private Transfer.

There are two systems of public transport in Cuba - one for locals and one for tourists. In the past, it has been illegal for tourists to take local public transport, but these laws have been overturned in the last few years and the public buses and shared taxis are now open to all. For a higher level of comfort, however, tourist buses are still recommended. The tourist Viazul buses are large modern buses that are quite comfortable and have air-conditioning, and sometimes even movies on board.


Money:
CURRENCY EXCHANGE
There are 2 official currencies in Cuba:
• Cuban Peso Convertible (CUC). Value: CUC1 = US$1.00
• Cuban Peso (CUP or Moneda Nacional M.N). Value: CUP24 = CUC1
The exchange rates of these currencies are fixed by the Cuban Government, however they are liable to change at any time.

In Cuba there are official government exchange houses called CADECA. These can be found in every city and also at the airport. They are commonly found in the larger hotels in Havana. The CADECA exchange houses offer the following services:
• Exchange foreign cash to CUC.
• Make cash advances on credit cards.
• Exchange traveler’s cheques.

To do any of these operations you will need your passport. To exchange traveler’s cheques you will also need the receipt of the bank where you bought them. Travelers cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to exchange so are not recommended.
The only currencies that you are guaranteed to be able to exchange are CAD, EUR, and GBP. You can also exchange USD, however, the Cuban Government charges an additional 10% fee for accepting USD. The same rules apply for travelers cheques in USD. AUD and NZD are not currently accepted in Cuba. Please also be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded, may be difficult to exchange. It's best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than US$100 (or equivalent).
All U.S. Credit Cards and Debit Cards are not accepted at all. You will need to exchange currently upon arrival.

Local Cuban Peso:
The 'local' Cuban Peso has very limited use, especially for travelers. You may get the chance to use it occasionally so it's perhaps a good idea to exchange about CUC1-3 to CUP at one of the CADECA after you arrive. Only some CADECAs, offer this service. This currency is mainly used for buying goods at ration stores (for which you need to be a resident and have a ration card), but some other products are also available in this currency and mainly from street stalls, such as ice-cream (CUP1-3) and pizzas (CUP10).

What's confusing for travelers is that the Cubans call both currencies 'pesos', so you have to know the value of something to know which currency they are referring to. Otherwise you have to ask. CUC is also colloquially known as convertibles, divisa, dolares, fula, chavitos, baros, and cabillas.

Spending Money
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveler is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveler feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

Tipping
If you're happy with the service you receive, providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

Emergency Funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional USD 500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

Safety:
The security environment in Cuba is relatively stable and characterized by a strong military and police presence throughout the country. Violent crime is uncommon in Cuba, but thefts do sometimes occur. Visitors should avoid wearing flashy jewelry or displaying large amounts of cash. When possible, visitors should carry a copy of their passport with them and leave the original at a secure location. The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Cuba is 106 for the Police Department and 105 for the Fire Department.

Travel Insurance:
Purchasing travel insurance is a requirement and without proof of travel insurance you may not be allowed entry into Cuba.

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