The Ultimate Cuban Vacation: Travel Insurance and Tips for the Trip of a Lifetime
Dreaming of a hot Havana night with a freshly rolled cigar, ice-cold Mojito, and the Conga drums beating in the background? Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture, or romance, traveling to Cuba holds a spot on many people’s bucket lists, formerly feeling like a forbidden adventure you’ll never get to take!
While it is now legal to travel to Cuba, it does require a bit more planning and steps to comply with both U.S. restrictions and Cuban rules. From obtaining the appropriate visa to taking care of your travel insurance, we’ll give you the information you need to ensure that your trip is covered, plus some of our best tips for ensuring that your itinerary for Cuba is top-notch!
Travel Insurance for Cuba
You actually do need travel insurance in order to visit Cuba. Under Cuban law, Americans who are traveling to Cuba must obtain non-U.S. health insurance before entering the country. If you do not get any insurance before you arrive, you will have to purchase Cuban health insurance at the Havana airport before you’re permitted to enter the country.
While you can get the health insurance that they offer you, you never really know what you’re paying for – and whether or not it’ll be enough. Travel insurance coverage not only allows you to know exactly what you’re getting for coverage ahead of time, but also provides additional services like covering your trip costs in case of cancellation. With everything that’s happened in the world from travel restrictions that we saw in early 2020, cancellation insurance is quickly becoming a must-have instead of an afterthought!
How Much Does Travel Insurance for Cuba Cost?
Travel insurance varies in cost based on a number of factors including coverage options, limits, and providers. Basic insurance usually runs between 5 and 10% of the total cost of your trip, while premium options can be up to 15%.
Your best bet is to do your due diligence and get quotes from multiple providers to ensure you’re getting the best deal for the coverage options you want. TraveIInsurance.com’s travel insurance comparison tool makes this super easy. Just enter your trip information, and we’ll instantly return provider quotes customized for your preferences, and they will have sufficient coverage for a trip to Cuba!
Travel Tips for Cuba
The United States also has travel restrictions that citizens need to abide by when visiting Cuba. You are allowed to visit Cuba only under 11 categories, of which many tourists will fall under the “for support of the Cuban people.” This category restricts visitors to only patronizing privately owned businesses while in the country.
U.S. citizens visiting Cuba are banned from spending money at government or military-owned businesses while in the country.
For all regulations, be sure to check out the U.S. State Department website.
Money Tips for Cuba
You won’t be able to use any of your U.S.-based ATM or credit cards anywhere in the country. This means that you will need to take with you enough cash for your entire trip. For most folks, you can probably budget between $50-100 per day for food, lodging, and transportation. However, you should always bring extra since there is no way to get any more once you’re in Cuba!
There are two currencies in Cuba: the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the currency for tourists and has an even $1USD = 1 CUC rate. You’ll see most of the prices in CUC. The secondary currency is the Cuban Peso (CUP), which is much less valuable than the CUC and reserved for locals.
You can exchange money outside the Havana airport on arrival, but if you’re exchanging U.S. dollars you should be aware of the 10% penalty. To avoid it, you can exchange U.S. dollars for Euro or another currency at home before heading to Cuba. All other currencies aside from USD will not have a penalty, so you can save yourself a bit of cash.
Packing Tips for Cuba
Casual dress is encouraged in Cuba, so filling your suitcase with comfortable, casual shorts, dresses, and a bathing suit or two will be perfect. A fancier outfit might be in order if you plan a night out for dancing in the hot Havana nights!
A few things you might want to make sure you have on you are enough cosmetics, insect repellent, sunscreen, and medicine for your trip. It’s very hard to get a lot of things you’re used to in Cuba, like minor pain relievers and toothpaste, so bring everything you think you might need.
Another must-have is a filtered water bottle. The water in Cuba is not safe to drink, and it’ll be useful to have if you can’t get access to bottled water and need that morning coffee!
Cuban Cultural Experiences
One of our favorite things to do when we travel is to take in as many authentic experiences as possible. Doing something that you can only do wherever you are is what travel is all about!
At the top of every must-do list for Cuba should be eating and drinking! Cuban cuisine is amazingly fresh and delicious. For a true experience, keep to the casa particulares meals or a paladares (privately-owned restaurant), where you’ll get home cooked specialties served with tostones, rice, beans, and a seasonal salad for less than a fast food meal back home!
Hot Tip: head to Baracoa and dine on the most exquisite shrimp, octopus, and lobster soaked in a decadent coconut sauce – yum!
If you happen to be in Havana on July 6th, you’re in for the party of a lifetime! Three Kings Day Carnival weaves through the small streets of Havana from morning until night. Jump in the conga line and learn the steps from a local! It’s definitely a memory that’ll last a lifetime!
No one can come to Cuba and not get a cigar! For the true aficionado, head to Vinales – the home of the famous tobacco plantations growing the crops the country is known for. While growers are required to sell 90% of their crops to the government, they are allowed to keep 10% for personal use and to sell to tourists. Taking an excursion out here, you’ll learn how the tobacco is cultivated, how to roll a perfect Cuban cigar, and be able to purchase your own to take home directly from the farmers themselves!
Destinations in Cuba
While you can only fly into Havana airport now from the United States, there are many places you can visit once you arrive. Here are our must-visit destinations.
- Santiago de Cuba
- Cayo Coco
- Sanata Clara
In case those aren’t enough, we’ve thrown some of our more unique favorites for a little something different! Enjoy your trip!
- Pinar del Rio
- Isla de la Juventud
- Las Terrazas