Cuba FAQs

When is a good time to go?

  • The main tourist season is December to April.

  • November, April, and May are still good weather with less crowds.

  • The summer can be hot and humid, but is otherwise less crowded.

  • The early fall is great, but you run the risk of traveling during hurricane season.

What's the status on Zika in Cuba?

Cuba FAQs

The Cuban government has only reported two locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus. By comparison, Miami has only had roughly 65 local cases total.  While it's certainly possible to obtain Zika while in Cuba, you are five times more likely to get struck by lightning.  However, the Cuban government keeps mosquito-borne Zika transmissions at bay by fumigating building on a daily basis, which isn't particularly healthy either.  

What outlets do they use in Cuba?

Typically North American 110V 2-3 prong plugs used in the US, but most of the modern hotels have sockets that accept both the American flat pin plugs and the European rounded pin plugs. You should not need an adapter in a 4+ star hotel, but be aware of outlets that use 220V and which appliances you're plugging in. For more info. 

What can I bring back from Cuba as an American?

To the US you can bring back $100 worth of cigars and rum, $400 total of souvenirs and an unlimited amount of art. Keep high ticket item receipts if asked at customs coming back to the US.

What should I bring to Cuba?

Any toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, shampoo, medications (even just simple Tylenol / Ibuprofen) that you'd expect to need while in Cuba.  A spare roll of toilet paper, especially for public restrooms.  Relevant paper maps or downloading an offline map app is essential.  Although all of these items are available for purchase in Cuba, it can be an all-day search for a store that has them in stock.  Plus they are very expensive.  

Where should I go in Cuba?

The answer depends on what types of interests you have.  Havana has a mix of big city culture, tourism and increasingly interesting food options.  Cayo Largo del Sur and Cayo Santa Maria are great beach resort destinations.  Holguín has a growing food and beer scene.  And that's just scratching the surface of possibilities for travel to Cuba

What should I tip in Cuba?

Do tip at restaurants, bars and taxis, but don’t overtip. 5% is sufficient and 10% is extremely generous. Any more is considered flaunting your wealth.

Where can I buy cigars in Cuba?

Don't buy cigars on the street or in outdoor markets, they are not generally authentic. Instead buy them in cigar shops or at the airport (more expensive).  

Are there scams in Cuba?

Many people making any recommendation of any kind are likely getting a kickback from it. Some are more direct than others. One common scam is say "It's my birthday", in hope that you'll buy them a drink at the bar of their choice, where they'll get a commission. 

Trust your casa owner or your hotel concierge, but most people on the street, especially in Havana and Trinidad where tourists are common, will be looking for ways to make a commission off of you for refferring you somewhere (if they approach you). It’s harmless, but annoying. 

If you approach someone asking for help, the above generally doesn't apply.

What are some dos and don'ts in Cuba?

  • Do learn some Spanish if you can. Without communication with locals, Cuba is a lot less interesting.

  • Do tip, but don’t overtip. 5% is sufficient and 10% is extremely generous. Any more is considered flaunting your wealth.

  • Do bring everything you need. Finding simple things like deodorant or sunscreen can take a day.

  • Don't follow street hustlers who tell you they will show you the way without you asking. It’s likely they are expecting money, ignore them as well as possible.

  • Don't try to get in line without yelling "Who was last in line" or "¿El último?” If you see a group of peope waiting around a window or desk, there's actually a 'line' or 'queue ', it's just that people may not be assembled in any order.

  • Do trust strangers for help when you need it, but only when you initiated the conversation.

  • Don't throw toilet paper in the toilet. Instead throw TP into the trash can, which is common in many Latin American countries.

  • Don't flaunt money or expensive jewelry in the street. Use common sense.

  • Don't drink water or juice or something that contain ice or non-bottled water. Bottled water is plenty and cheap.

  • Do change money in official Cadecas or change houses. Alternatively, exchange in an airport, hotel or bank. Do count your change, short-giving is a plague in Cuba.

  • Don't spit or blow your nose in public, it’s considered offensive. Don’t worry though, you’ll just get some funny looks.

Updated June 7, 2019