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It’s just family in Out Adventures’ Broadcasting HQ as Peter and Rob lay out everything Americans need to know before travelling to Cuba. 

For a downloadable version of Season 2 Episode 3, click here.

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Podcast Notes

Our very own Robert has organized three annual gay tours through Cuba since 2010, making him an in-house authority on the island nation. Hence why we decided to forgo a guest host for this pragmatic episode all about cultural Cuba.

PLEASE NOTE: Requirements and restrictions to Cuba may have changed since this podcast episode was published.

Can Americans still visit Cuba? Yes!

In 2014, President Barack Obama loosened restrictions on Americans visiting Cuba. Airlines immediately began offering direct flights to Havana as big chain resorts eyed new property ventures. For a few brief years, relations between the two countries looked sunny. That is, until the storm cloud that is President Donald Trump rolled in. Shortly after taking officer, Trump back peddled on (most) of Obama’s relaxed engagements.

Despite Trump’s interference, Americans can still legally visit Cuba under 12 specific categories or licences. The most common category is known as Support for the Cuban People.

What does Support for the Cuban People entail?

Primarily, Support for the Cuban People means American travellers can’t spend money that will benefit the Cuban military. As a communist nation, almost all restaurants, hotels and tourist sites are owned by the military.

Secondly, Support for the Cuban People requires travellers maintain a full-time educational schedule while in Cuba. Activities can include meeting with local artists, craftsmen, tobacco farmers etc. Or partaking in dance, cooking or music classes.

During your visit, you must retain records of your daily activities and who you meet. On a tour of Cuba with Out Adventures, we’ll help you with this requirement.

Where can Americans eat in Cuba?

Paladars are locally owned restaurants, often located right inside someone’s home.

What accommodations are available to Americans in Cuba?

Americans must take advantage of home-stays, aka Casa Particulars. These unique accommodations range widely in quality but are the only legal option for Americans.

What’s Cuba’s currency?

The local currency is now the Cuban Peso (CUP), and the convertible peso (CUC) has been discontinued. US dollars are no longer accepted, nor can they be exchanged. Only non-US credit/debit cards are accepted, in few places, so all guests should travel with all the cash they need for the trip in CAD or EUR. More details will be provided in your final Trip Documents, three weeks prior to departure.

Where to travel in Cuba

  1. Havana – The city is a paradox of dilapidated and crumbling, yet timeless and beautiful. The streets are alive with the rumble of vintage cars, while the air is heavy with fragrant cigars. There’s truly nowhere else like Havana.
  2. Trinidad – Cobblestone roads are lined with brightly coloured Victorian mansions in this UNESCO World Heritage city. By day, enjoy the city’s nonchalance. By night, take to central plaza for lively brass bands and salsa dancing.
  3. Viñales – This slice of paradise was once in the running to become the backdrop of Jurassic Park. While Costa Rica ultimately took that recognition, Viñales continues to be the country’s most awe-inspiring landscape.
  4. Cienfuegos – This is a once rich bay city boasting palaces, mansions and a remarkable central park. While the wealth may be long-gone, the city has maintained an air of exuberance that must be seen to be believed.

What direct flights are available to Americans?

A few major airlines offer direct flights to Havana via New York, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Houston and Miami.

Do Americans need a visa?

Yes! However, in Cuba, the visa is called a Tourist Card. You’ll receive a Tourist Card from your airline while en route. Do not lose it as you’ll need to give it back upon departure. If you lose your Tourist Card, you’ll be charged a hefty fee.

Anything else?

  • Havana’s gay beach is called Mi Cayito.
  • The best time to go is between November and March.
  • Read this article on why Cuba should be at the top of your bucket list.

In conclusion

As Peter rightfully points out in the podcast, travellers continue to seek ‘authentic’ experiences. On a Support for the Cuban People tour you are literally forced to have such an experience – embrace it. And if you need further help meeting America’s strict requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Header image from Shutterstock.

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