Summer is approaching and the less organized amongst us will be looking for last minute getaways. So, where to go? Chances are you’re looking for sun, sea and sand. Somewhere to kick back on a sun lounger, bask in the warm rays, take a dip in the sea or a pool and have a refreshing cocktail or mocktail close at hand. Why not try out Cuba? Cuba, officially known as the Republic of Cuba, is the largest island that lies in the Northern Caribbean, where the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. You get the best of three different worlds! It is renowned for its white sand beaches, hot weather and stunning landscapes. So, if this sounds perfect for you, read on! We’re here to guide you through everything you need to know in order to book the perfect holiday to this beautiful country.
When Should I Go?
There are two ideal time periods to visit Cuba. These are the months of July and August, or between November and March. If you visit during these high seasons, you are more likely to experience higher temperatures and more desirable weather conditions. This is ideal, but expect to pay about 30% more for flights and hotels. During the shoulder period between April and October, you will be able to find cheaper rates for flights and hotels. So while there may not be the peak weather conditions during this time, you will still be able to have a pleasant trip on a lower budget.
Do I need a VISA?
Entry procedures to Cuba are relatively straightforward and the country’s immigration officials are very used to welcoming international arrivals. If you are a regular tourist, who is planning on spending less than two months in the country, you won’t need any form of VISA. You will receive a tourist card which is valid for 30 days and can be extended once you have landed in the country. Canadians get 90 days as standard plus the option of a further 90-day extension on arrival. If you lose your card, you will have to fork out $25 for a new one and will not be able to leave the country without it. So be vigilant and keep a hold of your documentation.
How Long Is The Flight?
This is essentially the same as asking “how long is a piece of string?” It depends on where you’re travelling from! But let’s focus on travel from the United States of America. If you live on the East Coast, you’re in for a longer flight. From California, you’re looking at a five and a half hour flight. Travel from central States like Colorado, this is reduced to about four and a half hours. If you live on the West Coast, good news! From States like New York, the flight is just over three hours. Regardless of the time of your flight, try to book the most comfortable options available, especially if you suffer from health conditions. Even three hours is a long time to be sitting in the same space, so if you have experienced circulation problems in the past, invest in a good pair of flight socks. These will have compression levels which help to reduce the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis). If you are going to be traveling with hearing aids, check out your chosen airline’s protocols and measures to help those with impaired hearing. Some lines will be able to text passengers any updates or announcements during the flight and provide monitors detailing flight progress and expected departure or arrival times. If you suffer from a stiff neck or you become cold easily, pack a little travel pillow and travel blanket in your hand luggage.
What Currency Will I Need?
Cuba currently has two currencies, which the government is in the process of unifying: pesos (moneda nacionale; MN$) and convertibles (CUC$). As a tourist, you will almost exclusively deal with convertibles. One convertible is worth around 25 pesos. Remember, tipping is important in Cuba. Most workers will earn their wages in pesos, so leaving a tip of one convertible or more will make a big difference to their overall earnings.
Will I Need Health Insurance?
Health insurance is essential when travelling abroad to any country. Cuba is a relatively safe country as long as you are responsible in regards to what you eat and drink. But you never know when an accident or illness might strike, so make sure that you’re fully covered. It’s better to be safe than sorry!