6 Things to Ask Before Your Cuba Vacation
Preparing for your first trip to Cuba, but have a boatload of questions you wish to have answered? Many travelers venturing to the Caribbean country are searching for guidance, and it’s sometimes tricky to find the right info.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to find out some valuable pointers to plan the ultimate getaway. Keep reading to learn six essential questions you should ask to prepare yourself for your vacation to Cuba.
When is the Best Time to Visit Cuba?
Cuba sits in the northern Caribbean Sea only around 100 miles south of the U.S. state of Florida. This location puts Cuba smack dab in the pathway of possible hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic hurricane season spans from June to November, and Cuba is vulnerable to being hit by a storm this time of year.
Du to the potential threat of hurricanes, most travelers avoid visiting Cuba from June to November. You always have the risk of having a canceled trip when trying to visit Cuba this time of year.
The most popular time to visit Cuba is the period immediately following hurricane season from December to April. Clear skies and dry weather make this a fabulous time to enjoy Cuba’s tropical climate. January to March are the busiest months of the year, and scheduling a trip in November, April or May will help you avoid the biggest crowds of the year.
Do I Need a Visa to Visit Cuba?
For most travelers, the answer to this question is yes. Citizens of nearly every country in the world will need to acquire either a visa or tourist card in advance before visiting Cuba. You can purchase these from travel agencies, Cuban diplomatic missions, or certain airlines. Citizens of 18 countries can visit Cuba without the need for a visa or tourist card, but the length of stay varies by nation.
If you’re from the United States, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, or the European Union, you must acquire a visa/tourist card before visiting Cuba. The tourist card lets you visit for 30 days, but Canadians can stay up to 90 days. You will also need to have proof of return travel and a valid passport for the entirety of your stay before entry into the country is granted.
Where Should I Visit in Cuba?
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and the country has something for every type of traveler. Whether you’re looking to unwind on the beach or roam city streets, Cuba will surely have a destination that suits your interests.
Most travelers start their trip in the capital of Havana, and this colorful city teems with stunning architecture and historical sights. Varadero is one of Cuba’s most popular beach resort towns, but Cayo Largo del Sur lets you escape the crowds.
Although they’re both quite far from Havana, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba are gorgeous colonial cities that will amaze history buffs. For nature lovers, Valle de Viñales and Peninsula de Zapata are peaceful sanctuaries for their lush landscapes and incredible wildlife.
Do I Need to Tip in Cuba?
Tipping customs vary by country and knowing the proper tipping etiquette is just as important in Cuba. Travelers should make a note to tip the right person and the correct amount.
When you visit Cuba, expect to tip numerous people while you’re traveling around the country. There is a valued tipping culture, and it’s wise to set funds aside to leave appropriate tips for the right workers.
Expect to tip anyone who helps you at restaurants, hotels, and bars around 10%. This includes receptionists, bellboys, maids, bartenders, parking valets, toilet attendants, and anyone else who provides a service for you. Cuban tipping etiquette also includes tour guides, taxi drivers, and street performers you encounter during your trip.
Do I Need to Speak Spanish?
Many Cubans only speak Spanish and communicating with locals outside of tourist areas could pose a challenge for non-Spanish speaking visitors. Should your trip be confined to touristy areas and resorts, you’ll manage without knowing any words or phrases.
But where’s the fun in that? Traveling is always more rewarding when you’re able to communicate with the locals and understand their way of life. That’s why it pays off to at least learn common words and easy phrases. The locals appreciate you attempting to communicate with them in their language, and it helps you get around easier during your travels.
What Souvenirs Should I Get?
Cuba is an intriguing country, and many things make the island stand out compared to other destinations around the world. Most travelers strive to take home something from each place they visit, and Cuba offers lots of unique keepsakes once you depart.
One of the things synonymous with Cuba is cigars, and Cohibas Cigars are a rare find when you’re not on the island. Just make sure your country allows them before trying to take some home with you.
Some other popular souvenirs for tourists include authentic Cuban music, coffee, and artwork from self-taught Cuban artists. To discover more cool things you’ll only find in Cuba, visit Locally Sourced Cuba blog.