How to Travel to Cuba From USA 2017

How to Travel to Cuba From USA 2017: A Comprehensive Guide

Cuba, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes, has always been a popular destination for travelers. However, until recently, traveling to Cuba from the United States was quite challenging due to the long-standing trade embargo. In 2014, the Obama administration eased travel restrictions, making it easier for Americans to visit this Caribbean gem. In this article, we will guide you through the process of traveling to Cuba from the USA in 2017, including some commonly asked questions.

1. Understand the Travel Categories: There are 12 authorized travel categories for Americans visiting Cuba, including family visits, professional research, educational activities, and humanitarian projects. Choose the most appropriate category for your visit.

2. Book Flights: Several airlines now operate direct flights from major US cities to various Cuban destinations, such as Havana, Varadero, and Santiago de Cuba. Check with airlines like American Airlines, JetBlue, and Delta for the best deals.

3. Obtain a Visa: Travelers to Cuba must have a visa, also known as a tourist card or “Cuban visa.” You can purchase this directly from the airline during check-in or at the departure gate. The cost is typically around $50.

4. Health Insurance: Cuba requires all visitors to have health insurance coverage during their stay. Most airlines include this in the cost of your ticket, but it’s advisable to check with your airline to ensure you have adequate coverage.

5. Currency Exchange: Cuba has a dual currency system, with the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) being the main currency for tourists. It’s best to exchange your US dollars to euros or Canadian dollars before departing for Cuba to avoid the 10% penalty on US dollar exchanges.

See also  How Long Is the Flight to Punta Cana

6. Accommodation: Cuba offers a range of accommodation options, including hotels, casa particulares (private homes), and resorts. Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak tourist seasons.

7. Transportation: Getting around Cuba is relatively easy. Taxis and rental cars are available, but public transportation, such as buses and trains, offer a more authentic experience at a lower cost.

8. Internet Access: While internet access in Cuba is limited, most hotels and public areas offer Wi-Fi. However, it is advisable to disconnect and enjoy the beauty of Cuba without relying too heavily on the internet.

9. Explore Havana: The capital city of Havana is a must-visit destination, with its charming colonial architecture, vintage cars, and vibrant street life. Don’t miss iconic landmarks like El Malecón, Plaza de la Catedral, and the historic neighborhoods of Habana Vieja and Vedado.

10. Visit Trinidad: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad is a well-preserved colonial town with colorful streets, cobblestone squares, and beautiful churches. Explore its museums, dance to traditional Cuban music, and soak in the lively atmosphere.

11. Enjoy Cuban Cuisine: Cuban food is a delightful mix of Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences. Try traditional dishes like ropa vieja (shredded beef), moros y cristianos (black beans and rice), and the popular Cuban sandwich.

12. Learn Salsa: Cuba is famous for its vibrant music and dance culture. Take a salsa class or visit one of the many clubs and live music venues to experience the infectious rhythms firsthand.

See also  How Long Is Flight From New York to Los Angeles

13. Respect Local Culture: Cubans are known for their warm hospitality, so be respectful of their customs and traditions. Learn a few basic Spanish phrases and engage with locals to make the most of your Cuban adventure.

Common Questions:

1. Is it legal for Americans to travel to Cuba?
Yes, it is legal for Americans to travel to Cuba under specific authorized travel categories.

2. Do I need a passport to travel to Cuba?
Yes, a valid passport is required for travel to Cuba.

3. Can I use my credit cards in Cuba?
While some US credit and debit cards may work in Cuba, it is best to carry sufficient cash, as not all establishments accept cards.

4. Can I bring Cuban cigars back to the USA?
Yes, US citizens are allowed to bring Cuban cigars back to the USA for personal use, subject to customs restrictions.

5. Can I use my cell phone in Cuba?
Check with your cell phone provider to determine if your phone will work in Cuba. Alternatively, you can purchase a local SIM card upon arrival.

6. Is it safe to travel to Cuba?
Cuba is generally considered safe for travelers, but it is always advisable to exercise caution and take basic safety precautions.

7. Can I rent a car in Cuba?
Yes, you can rent a car in Cuba, but it is recommended to book in advance due to limited availability.

See also  How to Travel to Hawaii for Cheap

8. Are there direct flights from the USA to Cuba?
Yes, several airlines offer direct flights from major US cities to various Cuban destinations.

9. What is the best time to visit Cuba?
The best time to visit Cuba is during the dry season, from November to April, when the weather is pleasant and rainfall is minimal.

10. Can I travel independently or do I need to join a tour?
You can travel independently to Cuba, but you must adhere to the authorized travel categories and meet the requirements of your chosen category.

11. Do I need to speak Spanish to travel to Cuba?
While knowing some basic Spanish can be helpful, many Cubans in tourist areas speak English, and communication is usually not a major barrier.

12. Can I visit Cuba solely for leisure purposes?
Yes, you can visit Cuba solely for leisure purposes, as long as you choose an authorized travel category that aligns with your trip.

13. How much money should I budget for a trip to Cuba?
The cost of a trip to Cuba can vary depending on factors such as accommodation, activities, and dining preferences. It is advisable to budget around $100-$200 per day, excluding flights and accommodation.

Traveling to Cuba from the USA has become much easier in recent years, opening up a world of exploration for American travelers. By following the guidelines and understanding the requirements, you can embark on a memorable journey to this enchanting Caribbean nation.