In June of this year i took a trip to Cuba. Not only did i go there to vacation, i also went there with the intention to document my experience. I made sure to read up on only what i needed to know about the country as i didn't want to be swayed by anyone's opinions. I just wanted to explore the real Cuba for myself.
Tips and advice
1. Learn the currency. There is a dual currency system in Cuba. CUC aka convertible peso is used by tourists whereas CUP aka Cuban peso is used by the locals. CUC is worth a lot more than CUP so make sure you check your money to avoid getting scammed. If you're wondering how to tell the difference between the two you will find that CUC actually has pesos conventibles written on both sides of it, as well it being in better condition (less worn) compared to CUP.
You cannot purchase Cuban currency outside of Cuba so you have to wait until you arrive to exchange your money.
2. Drink bottled water only. It's the same with any country you visit, your body won't be used to the local tap water so be sure to stock up on enough bottled water for the duration of your stay.
3. Learn as much Spanish as you can. As Spanish is the language spoken in Cuba it would benefit you greatly to learn it and with apps such as Duolingo it's now easier than ever to learn new languages on the go.
4. Be prepared for limited internet access. Cuba is a communist country as you know so internet is restricted and controlled by the government. Wifi hotspots are scattered through major cities but it is pretty expensive to use. so you really have to keep your eye on the clock once you log in. To access the internet you will need to purchase a Nauta scratch-off internet card (i suggest you buy a few as your gonna need them) once you have the card, scratch of the login and password and join your hotel's or the nearest or wifi network.
For someone that is quite attached to my phone, I wasn't too bothered about the lack of internet access as there was so much to see and do, I was too busy having the time of my life lol
5. Bring gifts for the locals. There are a lot everyday items that do not mean much to us but they are highly coveted items to them. A lot of what i am about to list can be purchased from primark/99p store: School supplies- pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers, notepads, calculator, colouring books etc, shampoo, conditioner, Feminine hygiene products/Socks, t-shirts, hair bands, flash lights, Spanish/English dictionaries.
6. Get your visa ASAP! In order to visit Cuba, you need a visa. Now some visas are included in the price of your holiday so the best thing to would be to talk to your tour operator. If it is, perfect! you can chill lol but if not, contact the Cuban Embassy.
7. Safety. As a woman i know it can be quite scary travelling to a foreign country where you don't know anyone but out of all of the countries i've visited this was where i felt the safest.
Remember to Pack: Mosquito repellent (one that actually works), A fan, Imodium, Sunscreen, A book, Travel adapter, Portable charger, Batteries, Selfie stick, Hand sanitiser, Spanish phrasebook, Travel journal
Before I really get into this blog post, i need to mention how warm and welcoming everyone was. Everyone really made me feel like family, from hotel staff to strangers on the street. It was quite a contrast to where I'm from, a place where everyone keeps to themselves and at most you'll probably get a smile when the sun shows its face lol. I made a few friends during my stay which made it even more painful to say goodbye to this beautiful country. But it just gives me another reason to go back lol.
I stayed in the fourth largest city in Cuba, which is known as Holguin. Unfortunately due to timing I didn't get as much time as I would have liked to explore this city. I took an overnight trip to Havana from Holguin
Havana, the capital of Cuba, famously known for It's cigars, rum, 1950's American cars and 16th century architecture.
El Floridita (Inside was so packed so i didn't manage to get pics)
Santiago De Cuba
Santiago, the second largest city in Cuba. This is the hometown of poet Jose Maria Heredia and the birth place of the world- famous Barcadi brand.
Cuba was everything i imagined and more. I'm so glad i chose this destination for my summer holiday and i can't wait to visit again.
Have you been to Cuba? would you like to visit Cuba? Share your thoughts in the comments