These 5 Tips for Visiting Cuba will make your next trip south so much easier! From what to pack (and leave), all-inclusive resort food, things to do, and currency (avoid my mistake) this post will set you up for success for your next Cuban vacation…
5 Tips for Visiting Cuba
- Currency. What currency do they use in Cuba? The Cuban Convertible Currency (also known as CUC). You can exchange your Canadian or American dollars at the airport exchange desk or at your resort. Shops, restaurants, car rentals, attractions, and experiences are all solely CUC payable. We took american dollars (thinking it was universally accepted…it’s NOT). We found ourselves looking for bank machines in each city we visited (and then our credit card company froze our card because they thought there was fraudulent activity – because I didn’t think to notify them that we would be using it in Cuba).
- Things to do. We decided to go to Santiago du Cuba because we wanted to experience both the mountains and beaches of Cuba (and Santiago du Cuba is between both). I highly recommend doing activities and experiences (because yes, the resort is nice and all…but you need to experience the country, the people, the culture!). We opted for a 3.5 star all-inclusive so that we could have extra budget for experiences – and it was a great decision. Our family of 5 (aged 8, 15, 18 + us parents) did horseback riding on the beach, snorkeling, sailing along with day trips. First day trip: renting a car + driving to city (our resort was 75 minutes away) + tipping our personal guide ($15) + restaurant + admission to visit a fort. Second day trip: guided tour of a local school + farmer’s home (the kids thought this was the BEST experience of the trip!) + bat cave tour + beach visit.
- All-inclusive resort food. How’s the food in Cuba? Great coffee. No tea. Lots of chicken. No beef. So yes…at the all-inclusive resort you get to eat everything…all day long. It’s just everything isn’t appealing to everyone. Lots of cabbage but no salad. Lots of banana ice cream but not much chocolate or vanilla. It’s different food offerings because of imported foods and what they grow. TIP: take a reusable container and fill it with your favourite items to munch on at the beach during the day. For us it was dry cereal from the breakfast buffet.
Read my FAMILY TRAVEL PACKING LIST for packing ideas.
- What to pack for Cuba. You definitely want beach attire (swim suits, hats, sunglasses, et al). You also want a summer semi-dressy outfit for evenings (sundress or polo shirt + shorts). I found it cooler at night and appreciated having a light shawl for layering.
- What to leave in Cuba. TIP: plan on packing gently used clothes for donation in Cuba. The Cuban people are very grateful to have children, women’s, and men’s clothing. Even toiletries like toothpaste and toothbrushes (new in packages of course). We left our clothes with hotel staff who we befriended during our visit (and we gave the clothes respectfully and low-key). Soccer jerseys I knew the kids wouldn’t wear after their playing season. Golf shirts, t-shirts, shorts, sandals.
BONUS TIP: Beware of sand fleas. Cuban beaches are known for having sand fleas – which result in raised, itchy bites. The bites normally annoy for 1 to 2 weeks and then disappear. Packing after-bite will help make you more comfortable. Or stick to the pool. 🙂
SHARE: WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR VISITING A SOUTHERN DESTINATION?…