Cuba Explorer Tours.
Authentic Cuba travel to get to know island people, culture, history and nature.
Travel preparation, tips and advice for your Cuban holiday
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You'll make plenty of new friends. Take lots of film or memory and batteries for your camera.

Sunblock lotion! Lower latitude sun can burn you in minutes.

In the year 2007 more than 600,000 Canadians visited Cuba together with 1.4 million guests from other countries. When joining a Cuba Explorer Tours program you'll witness the real Cuba – its culture and history – and interact with islanders at the people-to-people level. We offer the following travel tips for first-time Cuba visitors and those returning to the island. Traveling to Cuba is a breeze compared to most other countries. We hope our Cuba travel tips will make your tour preparation less worrisome and journey more rewarding.

A message to our friends in the United States: All are welcome to travel with us. Our organization cannot provide travel licenses required by your government. However, we can assist and advise on this issue. Please contact us for further information.

THIS PAGE INCLUDES

Climate overview

What to take on Cuba Explorer Tour
Suggested gifts for your new Cuban friends
Clothes and accessories
Medicine and hygiene
Other travel items
Money, documents, prohibited items, communications

General travel considerations

Tipping and gratuities

Cuba land travel distances in kilometers

CLIMATE OVERVIEW

Be prepared for warm weather and a chance of brief, but intense rain in the late afternoons during summer season when temperature peaks just after midday. Relative humidity reaches highest during the first hours of the morning and late afternoon. Fall, winter and spring are just great!

WHAT TO TAKE ON A Cuba Explorer Tour

Less is better when traveling to Cuba.

Clothing Cuba is a wonderfully warm, tropical island, so cotton and other light fabrics are ideal for most activities. Keep in mind, however, that resorts, restaurants, tour buses and other public areas are generally air conditioned. During wintertime, which is slightly cooler, we recommend bringing a light coat or sweater. For the rainy season (May to October), an umbrella will come in handy.

Casual is the order of the day in Cuba (no suits or ties). However, visitors who enjoy elegant dining, theatre and other sophisticated entertainment tend to dress sharp for these occasions. Laundry services are provided at hotels and resorts for a fee.

Packing The best rule is to pack once, then cut it by half. Airline weight limits change constantly. Check with your airline prior to packing to avoid over weight luggage fees. Consider leaving some space for humanitarian donations.

Here's a handy checklist of personal items customized for Cuba travel. Just bring what you think you'll need.

SUGGESTED GIFTS FOR YOUR NEW CUBAN FRIENDS

New memory sticks (favorite)

Nice chocolates

Cool new Tshirts, caps with neat logos, new sunglasses, hip key chains

English/Spanish dictionaries and phrase books

AA batteries! Boring, yes. But they are scarce, costly and appreciated

Attractive jewelry. Anything you'd give your friends at home

Please see our Donations Site for items needed by schools and hospitals

YOUR CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES

Underwear and socks

Shirts and Tshirts

Sunglasses, umbrella, sun screen

Sweater or light jacket

Skirt or slacks for evening events

Cap or sun hat (purchase in Cuba)

Pants and shorts

Swim suit and towel

Belt, watch, alarm clock, fanny pack or money belt

Comfortable shoes (don't break in new shoes on this trip)

Waterproof sandals

Prescription glasses

YOUR MEDICINE AND HYGIENE

Face cloth, shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, comb, hair brush (avoid hair dryers and irons)

If you are sensitive to foreign food and water bring Keopectate or Imodium.

Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, mouthwash

If you use prescription drugs bring a two week supply

Shaver and supplies

Deodorant, fragrance, moisturizer

Band-Aids or a miniature first aid kit

Fingernail clippers, lip balm

One roll of toilet paper, sanitary napkins or tampons, condoms

Insect repellent such as citronella essence

Earplugs (if trouble sleeping)

Vitamins, aspirin or equivalent

YOUR OTHER HANDY TRAVEL ITEMS

Electricity is 110 and 220 AC. A 220 adapter may be useful

Snacks, dried fruits and nuts

Camera, lots of film, memory, batteries. iPod, CDs, batteries

Pocket knife (pack in check-in luggage), cigarette lighter, candle

Rubber-bands, plastic bags, super glue, safety pins, sewing kit

Novel, guide book, Spanish dictionary, phrase book, note book, pens, pencils

MONEY, DOCUMENTS, PROHIBITED ITEMS, COMMUNICATIONS

We suggest a minimum of $75 a day to cover meals and entertainment not included in your tour package, gratuities, gifts, long distance calls, internet, and Cuban Airport departure fee of 25CUC

Click here for more current information on today's exchange rates and money matters in Cuba including details on credit cards, debit cards and travelers checks

Your passport, a photocopy of your passport, your flight tickets and Cuban tourist card

Addresses, phone list of friends, family, doctor, employer, and personalized calling cards

DO NOT BRING GPS devices, any kind of weapon, narcotics, pornography, or anti-Cuba literature. See Cuban Customs website

Cell phones are costly to operate in Cuba. We suggest purchasing a phone card on the island and using local services. If you must take your cell phone to Cuba, here's the website for Cubacel (in Spanish)

Internet access is generally available at hotels for a fee of between 5 to 10 CUC per hour. Internet cafés are also common for similiar fees. It is difficult to connect your laptop to these services. Cuban bandwidth is limited to 56K phone modems as a result of the U.S. blockade.

GENERAL TRAVEL CONSIDERATIONS

Safety Cuba is considered amongst the safest countries in the world with a very low crime rate. Yet we advise visitors to exercise the same precautions as anywhere else – do not leave personal belongings unattended. Ostentatious display of jewelry and electronic equipment invites pickpockets. Travelers should consider using a lockbox at hotels for valuables, documents and cash.

Entering the country All visitors must have a passport that is valid throughout the course of their stay, as well as a tourist card (issued by travel agents and airlines prior to departure). Business travelers need a valid passport and a commercial visa (issued by Cuban Consulates in Canada).

Tourist Card A Cuban tourist card (for Canadians) allows its holder to stay in Cuba for 90 days from the date of entry onto the island, and is valid for one entry into Cuba. For a stay of more than 90 days, one can request an extension for another three months at any tourism office in Cuba, for a maximum stay of six months. Children, regardless of their age, also require a tourist card, even if they are registered on their parents passports. See instructions for how to fill out a Cuban tourist card properly.

Leaving Cuba Be sure to save 25.00 Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) in cash for your airport departure tax. Visitors leaving Cuba can take out unlimited boxes of cigars as long as they've been purchased at state stores and you have a receipt. Visitors can only take out 23 cigars with no receipt or those that were purchased from street vendors. You can take out unlimited amounts of liquor, but remember your home entry limitations. To export other items, such as art and antiques, obtain a permit from the National Registry of Cultural Objects (legitimate artists issue such permits and official stamps).

Animal and plant exports Strict rules apply to taking plants and animals out of Cuba. The Convention on International Trading in Endangered Species (CITES) prohibits taking the following out of the country: indigenous flora and fauna; live or preserved specimens and articles made from parts of endangered species. However, articles made from species approved by the CITES Administrative Authority in Cuba may be taken out of country.

Taxis For personal transportation, take an official taxi such as Pana Taxi (tel 855-5555). Private cabs are simply not worth the hassle, nor are they cheaper!

Photography and filming Photos and videos can be taken freely, except in restricted areas, such as military zones. Some museums may also have restrictions or request a fee. Be considerate and avoid embarrassment – ask first.

Water While most foreigners and Cubans have no problems with the water, we recommend you drink bottled water at all times.

Healthcare Travelers to Cuba are under no health restrictions and require no vaccinations or inoculations. All hotels have a doctor or nurse in residence or on call who guarantee primary care. Every major city has an international medical clinic that handles more complex medical conditions. Visitors might consider purchasing interruption and extended medical insurance before traveling. Discuss this with your travel agent.

Electrical equipment Cuba's electricity standard is 110 volts, 60Hz (North American), but many new hotels and resorts use bot 110 and 220 volts. Electrical outlets take flat plug prongs. If you're bringing electrical appliances, check with your hotel before you leave to see if you need a 110v to 220v adaptor or converter.

Donations Any thing you bring to Cuba can be left behind for hospitals and schools – a good way to free up luggage space for returning gifts and souvenirs. However unwanted items should not be given to Cuba service staff in place of monetary tips (see below). For more information on donations to Cuba, click here.

TIPPING AND GRATUITIES IN CUBA

Feel good about tipping – everyone benefits. Cuban tourist staff share tips with their co-workers who don't have access to them, and they all donate a portion of their tips to the national health and education systems. Please consult these current tipping schedules:
 Tipping guidelines for youth and student groups
 Tipping guidelines for adults

CUBA LAND TRAVEL DISTANCES IN KILOMETERS

 Havana
157
 Pinar del Río
87
244
 Matanzas
121
278
34
 Varadero
268
425
195
205
 Santa Clara
232
389
177
180
61
 Cienfuegos
340
546
324
297
92
147
 Sanctí Spiritus
434
591
396
361
146
221
74
 Ciego de Avila
534
691
498
461
246
321
174
90
 Camagüey
654
811
618
581
365
441
294
220
90
 Las Tunas
730
887
694
667
401
517
370
325
196
76
 Bayamo
689
846
653
696
400
476
329
240
140
35
70
 Holguín
847
904
811
774
409
634
487
442
313
193
130
135
 Santiago
891
1048
840
818
403
678
531
486
357
237
174
179
44
 Baracoa
929
1086
893
856
640
716
569
524
396
275
212
199
82
126
 G'tmo

OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT ISLAND TRAVEL?

Cuba Explorer Tours organizers are always available to answer questions prior to your trip. Call 1-877-687-3817 toll free or ask a question.

Cuba is considered amongst the safest countries in the world, and no vaccinations are necessary.

Be generous We encourage tour participants to leave behind Tshirts, shoes and shorts, and hygiene products as donations for Cuban schools and hospitals.

CUBA TRAVEL RESOURCES

Learn Spanish Today (Free online course) Our favorite. Allows you hear and read many common words and phrases (with pictures) in Spanish with 26 modules.

Study Spanish (Free online course) This site offers free Spanish grammar tutorials consisting of eight sessions.

Translation Service (Free) Fast and fairly accurate: English to/from Spanish.

Weather.Com Hourly climate reports on Havana and environs, climate maps and ten day forecasts for the island.

OUR CHOICE OF GUIDE BOOKS

Excellent Cuba guide book

Lonely Planet's "Cuba" 4th Edition, 2006
ISBN: 174059746X
496 pp / 16 pp color / 65 maps

This is the least biased and most practical guide including places to stay, currency, music hot spots, tips on street food and eateries, 65 maps, national parks, and an overview of island social, economic and political life.

TIME/TEMP IN HAVANA NOW!


Island-wide annual averages:
Summer temp average: 81F | 27C
Winter temp average: 72F | 22C
Ocean temp average: 78F | 25.5C

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