Cuba With Kids: Experiences
- Taking a ride in a convertible car (regardless of its age, make or model!)
- Salsa up the street
- Listen to live music (there are talented musicians and dancers everywhere!)
- Making, and drinking guarapo (sugar cane juice)
- Sip a mojito (or ‘Nojitos’ for kids)
- Smoke a cigar – you’re in Havana!
- Visit the former home of Ernest Hemingway
- Lively, colourful and culturally rich
- Warm all year round
- Swim under waterfalls
- Saddle up and take a ride with cowboys
- Explore ancient cave networks and underground rivers
- Stay with local families in Casas Particulares
- Unwind on Caribbean beaches
- Learn how to think out of the box (the Cubans are some of the most creative people we’ve seen)
Cuba With Kids: Blog Posts
Cuba with Kids: A guide to Viñales for families (coming soon!)
Cuba With Kids: Video Guides
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Cuba With Kids: When To Visit
Cuba is warm for most of the year with temperatures ranging between 20-35C. The dry season runs from November to April. Between December and March the weather can get quite cool. This is a good time to visit the cities but not necessarily the best time to visit the beach. We visited in February and wore jeans and a light jumper on most days. Hurricane season runs from June to November. Although they are infrequent, Cuba is well prepared for them. This website will give you more information on hurricanes.
Cuba with Kids: Getting There
Havana’s International airport is José Martí International Airport (HAV), approx 30-40 minutes from Old Havana.
Direct flights from UK to Cuba
London: LGW – HAV 9h (Virgin Atlantic)
Indirect flights from UK to Cuba
Air Canada, Air France and Iberia offer indirect flights from London Heathrow, Gatwick and city airports (with one or two stopovers).
Cuba With Kids: US Visitors
I’m a US citizen. Can I go to Cuba?
Technically it is illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba. However there are a number of loopholes that Americans use and despite President Trump’s efforts to restrict travel for Americans, things are beginning to change.
Officially American citizens may only travel to Cuba if their trip qualifies under one of 12 US Government approved categories:
- Family visits
- Official business or the US government, foreign government and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research
- Educational activities
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation or transmission of information or informational materials
- Certain export transactions
‘Support for the Cuban people‘ is the category Americans use most. All you need to do is declare the category when booking flights, accommodation and when re-entering the US. You should stay in Casa Particulares and avoid hotels that are banned by the US.
The US Treasury Department Fact Sheet describes the ‘Support for the Cuban People’ category as follows:
In accordance with the NSPM, OFAC is requiring that each traveler under this travel category engage in a full-time schedule of activities that result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba. Such activities must also enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities. Renting a room in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately owned stores run by selfemployed Cubans (cuentapropistas) are examples of authorized activities; however, in order to meet the requirement of a full-time schedule, a traveler must engage in additional authorized Support for the Cuban People activities.
Book a Family Holiday to Cuba
We work with an excellent partner agent in the UK who specialises in family travel and who has organised many family holidays for our readers in Cuba (including my own one as detailed in this blog). If you would like to receive a quote, please fill out the enquiry form on our Contact Page (your enquiry will be sent directly to our partner agent).
Please note that we do receive a small commission for any holidays successfully booked but this does not affect your quote in any way. You never pay more making an enquiry through Far-Flung Lands than by booking directly with any of our partner agents.
Cuba with Kids: FAQ
Time: GMT – 05:00
Language: Spanish is the main language spoken.
Voltage: 110v, although some luxury hotels have 220v
Cuba With Kids: What documents do I need?
Tourist cards are valid for 30 days and can be used once within 180 days of being issued. We got ours from a local travel agent. The card costs USD 25 per person. The Embassy of Cuba in the United Kingdom gives more details here.
An obvious one, but do check that your passport has at least 6 months left before its expiration date (taken from the date of your departure)
If you are renting a car, don’t forget your driver’s license!
Travel insurance is obligatory and you may be required to present proof of it at customs. If you already have private insurance, check that it covers you in Cuba. Ours didn’t. We took out separate insurance with World Nomads. ($162 for the family)
Bring print outs of all documents with you (remember you may not be able to access your email). All vouchers and confirmation emails for hotel, transport, flights etc. Customs may ask you for the address of the hotel/s you are staying in. Given the limited access to internet, we would have been lost without these papers.
Cuba With Kids: Can I access the Internet in Cuba?
Access to the internet is very limited in Cuba. There is one service provider called ETECSA (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A). You can buy ETECSA scratch cards from some of the major hotels and at any ETESCA vendor. These cards give you a username and password that allows you to login to a wifi zones. The price of a 1-hour card ranges from 2 – 5 CUC depending on where you buy them (they are cheaper in the ETECSA shops). Prepare yourself for multiple login attempts and drop-offs, the connections are fragile and the bandwidth slow. Better still, view your family vacation as opportunity to unplug!
There are a handful of services that accept credit cards but you should be prepared to pay for everything in cash. Cuba has two currencies: the CUC (Convertible Peso) and CUP (National Peso). As a tourist you will mostly need CUC (we didn’t use CUP on our visit) but be aware of the difference – you don’t want to be given change in CUP!
There are ATMs in the main cities, most (if not all?) will charge handling fees. If your bank is linked to a bank in the US (e.g. Banco General, Citibank) chances are that you won’t be able to withdraw cash or use your card anywhere. To avoid the fees (and the hassle of finding an ATM), you can bring cash with you. The best currencies to exchange in Cuba are Euros, Canadian Dollars, Pound Sterling and Mexican Pesos. US dollars are accepted but incur a transaction fee of 10%.
How much should I tip in Cuba? Tips are hugely appreciated in Cuba and go a long way. Our UK travel agent gave us the following guidelines: (figures are in USD which are the equivalent to CUC) Porter: US$1-2 per bag/suitcase Housekeeping: US$1-2 per room per day Driver: US$2-3 per person per day Guide: US$3-6 per person per day Waiter: 10% Taxis: 10%
Medical Care in Cuba
What is the healthcare like in Cuba? Cuba is known for training some of the best doctors in the world and medical facilities in Havana are good. For emergency medical assistance, there are a number of International clinics across the island including the Cira Garcia Clinic in Havana: Calle 20 No 4101 y Avenida 41, Playa on tel: 204 2811 (+ Ext 445 to request an ambulance). You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Servimed is a state owned and run company that offers foreigners access to the 16 Cuban hospitals and clinics that provide more than 100 types of health services. This is separate from the not-for-profit health system available to Cuban citizens. If you do fall ill, ask your hotel or casa particular owner for a doctor’s referral. A listing of hospitals in Cuba can be found here.
All family members should be up-to-date on their immunisations prior to travel and travel insurance is obligatory (make sure if covers you in Cuba, and includes ground and air ambulance transport, payment of hospital bills, 24-hour telephone assistance. See FAQ below for travel insurance recommendation). Bring your own medical kit with you with all basics and any medication you might be taking.
Dengue Fever is prevalent in Cuba and precautions should be taken to avoid being bitten by the dengue mosquito. It is an infectious tropical disease also known as ‘break bone fever’ owing to the severe joint and muscle pain victims experience. We have written a longer post on how to avoid catching dengue fever here.
There have been confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Cuba. This virus is spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquito and results in ‘Zika Fever’. Symptoms are similar to those of Dengue and include sore joints, rashes, fever and conjunctivities. The Zika Virus is particularly dangerous for pregnant women. For information, check with your doctor before travelling.
Safety in Cuba
Is Cuba safe for tourists? Generally speaking, yes! Crime levels are low and mainly in the form of opportunity theft. When we were in Trinidad our driver joked that if we left our children with the name and address of our hotel around their necks, someone would almost certainly escort them home. Please consult your own government’s travel advisory for safety advice such as fco.gov.uk and travel.state.gov
Remember that Cuba is a far-cry from its glitzy, brand-obsessed neighbours in the Caribbean. The dress code is informal day and night. Leave those evening gowns and heels behind! The scene in the coastal resort town of Varadero maybe different though as it sees a lot of tourists (I didn’t visit)
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