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There is no doubt that Cuba is an island that leaves no one indifferent; it somehow fascinates and moves the traveler in equal measure.
Cuba is known for its wonderful beaches and keys of fine sand with turquoise waters, but the island also has a lush natural landscape that allows multiple activities of ecotourism, nature sports and navigation.
National parks, ecological and biosphere reserves, cave systems, coral reefs for scuba diving, incredible and amazing ecosystems with waterfalls and springs, mountain ranges, etc. Its flora and fauna are also worthy of observation.
Cuba is synonymous with cultural wealth. We invite you to enjoy its history, its rich architectural heritage, pictorial art and craftsmanship, its photography, music, salsa, ballet, theater, cinema, of all its cultural festivals; and, of course, of its products with more Cuban flavor such as rum, tobacco, coffee and sugar cane.
But the best thing about Cuba is undoubtedly the human quality of its people. Cuba is full of welcoming, friendly, cheerful people, in which you only see smiles and optimism. Do not live Cuba just as a tourist, let yourself go, blend in and grow on a human level, as it will be the best memory you will take of the trip.
For a country like Cuba, with a structural economic crisis that depends to a large extent on the inflow of foreign currency from tourism, the closing of borders for two years due to the pandemic has exacerbated the precariousness and scarcity of supplies on the island.
Tourist arrivals, however, continue to grow at a good pace, although still below pre-pandemic figures. After an increase of 56% in the number of visitors to Cuba in December 2021, according to data from the Cuban Central Banc, Cuba is estimated to receive about 2.5 million visitors in 2022.
Although the current situation is worse than at other times, in Cuba there have always been periods of more or less scarcity of supplies that have been well avoided for tourism.
During the global scourge of the pandemic, the Cuban government maintained very effective control of impact of the coronavirus in Cuba, that was relatively low compared to many of the surrounding countries and Europe.
Cuba has developed its own vaccines: 5 vaccine candidates, three of them licensed: Abdala (efficacy 92.8% with 3 doses), Soberana 2 (91.2% with 2 doses and a third one of Soberana Plus).
The Ministry of Tourism has worked hard to ensure that all Cuban hotels and Cuban private houses comply with hygiene and safety standards, as dictated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Today, there are no longer any limitations to enter the country and even the use of masks in all public places has been eliminated.
El problema de suministros en Cuba está provocando no solo la escasez de algunos alimentos, sino incluso de productos básicos.
In the hotel facilities, the buffets no están surtidos de todo tipo de alimentos y puede que falten algunos productos como la leche; no obstante, no podría afirmarse que los viajeros pasan hambre en Cuba, al contrario, siempre manifiestan que en los resorts hay poca variedad, pero copiosas raciones. Esto contrasta con la interesante y variada oferta de platillos en las paladares cubanas.
Energy problems have not yet been solved on the island and it is common to encounter intermittent power outages that can affect travelers, mainly due to the lack of air conditioning in their accommodations.
The lack of energy capacity can also affect the scheduling of concerts, theaters or even the opening and closing hours of restaurants and bars.
In addition, fuel shortages have greatly affected the availability of public and private transportation, so we recommend always traveling with official cabs, previously contracted, which in addition to knowing the national road system well, know where to refuel.
Since July 11, 2021, when a social explosion occurred in Cubathe island breathes tranquility, but popular discontent remains latent.
The blackouts currently affecting a large part of the population are the cause of peaceful protests, especially in the interior of the country. The Cuban people gather in the streets and squares in the hope that electricity service will be restored.
The experience is, in general, very satisfactory, because in spite of not being able to abstract from the real situation of the country, the tourist really travels "between cotton wool".
Currently, you can tour the island calmly and without the burden of mass tourism, because in addition to a smaller influx of tourists, cruise ships are not arriving in Cuba.
Undoubtedly, the pace is slower and the quality standards are not always in line with the price paid, but not because the service personnel do their job badly, but because in most cases they do not have the means.
We assure you that Cubans do what they can and try to give the best of themselves, but if the means do not exist, they cannot always "invent", as they say. They really do more than anyone would do, especially if you take into account that the average salary is about 30 dollars and that, as you can see, the prices are not at all cheap.
What is important is to know in advance what you are going to find in Cuba. If what you are looking for is super luxury, this is probably not your dream destination, although there are places of very high comfort and more and more hotels and private boutique houses that provide services of excellence.
In addition, it is essential that you let yourselves be guided and advised by experts who know the situation in Cuba and the best way to overcome the current difficulties. For example, the accommodations that have power plants or alternative means for blackouts, restaurants that, despite the food shortages maintain an excellent offer and service, etc.
Cuba is to be enjoyed and looked beyond: its infinite contrasts between decadence and majesty, entire neighborhoods buried in oblivion next to perfectly restored colonial buildings, and all impregnated with its unmistakable colors, smells and flavors, always offers unique and enriching experiences to those who decide to let themselves be seduced by its charms.
In words of one of our travelers:[Cuba's] spirit, personality and soul seduce to the point of falling in love. Its iconic image, the feeling and the passion it transmits, mark you forever like a permanent and deep tattoo drawn with care in your heart. Traveling and living [Cuba] is an authentic experience, the hard daily struggle for life is turned into smiles, joy, color and music for subsistence."
Currencies and credit cards
On January 1st currency unification was implemented in Cuba with the withdrawal of the Convertible Peso (CUC) from circulation. There is currently only one currency in circulation: the Cuban Peso (CUP), with an official exchange rate of 119.69 CUP pesos to 1 euro.
La inflación en el país ha elevado los precios hasta tal punto que el cambio en la calle puede llegar hasta 180 CUP por 1 euro, pero esto no es oficial y es sancionable.
Currently, Cubans offer their services in dollars, euros and pounds, so you can also pay in those currencies without any inconvenience.
Where to exchange currency?
Once in Cuba, you can change money in a Cadeca, in a Cuban Bank, in the hotels or in your private accommodation.
You may find that the owners of private houses for rent offer you better exchange rates, because they are interested in acquiring foreign currency, in which case it could be more advantageous for you, although you should pay attention to the exchange rate they offer you.
What currency to use?
Our advice is to pay as much as possible in eurosbut always evaluate the exchange rate, in case it would be more advantageous to pay in CUP.
Everywhere you can also pay in CUP, although normally it will be more beneficial to pay in foreign currency, except in dollars, which are no longer in circulation.
In all private businesses such as restaurants, cafeterias, cabs, private homes, etc. you can pay in foreign currency, but always agreeing in advance on the exchange rate, which is not always the official rate.
You will find that it is really crazy what is happening in Cuba with the fluctuations in the exchange rate street, but this almost always plays in your favor.
In the case of state-owned businesses such as hotels, interprovincial state transportation, restaurants, etc., not all of them accept foreign currency in cash, and if they do, it is always at the official exchange rate; here you can also pay by MLC card, or foreign credit card, as long as they have enabled collection devices.
Currently, many state-owned hotels are making it mandatory to pay by credit card, both for reservations and services (stores, restaurants, cafeterias).
The only places where you can NOT pay in cash with foreign currency is in the Cuban markets known as "stores in MLC (freely convertible currency)". There you can only pay with VISA or MASTERCARD cards or with the cards acquired in Cuba in MLC.
EYE! do not carry cards issued by American banks, as they are not accepted.
Cuba is a safe destination!
Cuba keeps a very low crime rate, since Cubans are very peaceful and friendly. It's not just us who say it, as according to the platform Numbeo, global database on perceived crime rates, the Caribbean nation has the lowest crime rate in the Caribbean and Latin America region.
For these, and other reasons, Cuba received in 2018 the Excelsior Award as the safest destination, at the XXXVIII International Tourism Fair (FITUR) held in Madrid.
In general, tourists of all nationalities receive the warmth and friendliness of Cubans without distinction.
If you are one of those who like to get up to practice some exercise very early in the morning. Or, if you prefer to walk at night to explore the Cuban streets and experience its unique night vibe, in Cuba you can feel free to do both activities, without taking any risk.
Traveling to Cuba continues to be a wonderful experience full of contrasts and humanity and of this we have no doubt!
Here are some tips that may be useful on your trip to Cuba:
Cuba's most emblematic colonial cities
15 things to see if you travel to Habana, Cuba
Exclusive accommodations to travel to Cuba as a couple
Private houses in Cuba
Colonial Habana City Tour
10 days route around Cuba
What to see about art and architecture in Habana?
10 tips to travel to cuba carefree
See you soon!!
Article written by Gabriela Rodríguez