Know Before You Go
General Program Information
Will we travel with a group?
Our group sizes typically consist of 12 to 24, but we can accommodate groups of 50 to over 400. Interested travelers may also choose to book a private trip and visit Cuba with their party exclusively.
What is included in this trip?
- Cuban Visa
- Cuban Medical Insurance
- Ground Transportation in Cuba
- Expert local Cuban guide and driver
- Experienced Cultural Explorations Travel Manager depending on desired package and inclusion in program
- Accommodations including hotel stay and all planned cultural activities, as outlined in elected program
- Meals/Beverages, as outlined in elected program
- Gratuities for services rendered within elected program package
What is included if I purchase airfare?
- Round-trip air from Miami to Havana
- Departure Taxes
- Baggage fee up to 44 pounds (includes combined weight of carry-on and check in luggage). *Subject to change depending on different airline policies.
- Cuban Visa (required for entry)
- Medical Insurance
Cultural Explorations can assist with booking flights from any city.
*Prices may vary depending on city, airline, and destination.
What is not included in this trip?
- Gratuities for Cuban driver and Cuban tour guide and for miscellaneous services not included in elected program (*See ‘Tipping Suggestions at the bottom of the page’)
- Additional bottled water or non-alcoholic beverages not included in elected program
- Additional alcohol and wine not included in elected program
- Snacks or food beyond those outlined in elected program
- Telephone Services
- Travel Insurance
- Wifi or Internet access except where supplied in elected program
- Air Travel/Fare
Will there be free time?
There will be a relaxed schedule of cultural activities with plenty of designated free time. It is required by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that each traveler under a people-to-people license will have a limited schedule of educational exchange activities that involves interaction between the travelers and the people in Cuba.
What is the temperature and expected weather?
We will be watching the weather in advance and should there be any warning that creates a cancellation for your trip, you will be notified. It is strongly recommended for travelers to purchase Travel Insurance, which covers unforeseeable weather conditions.
Cuba is a subtropical climate with warm temperatures year round. The average temperature is 88 Fahrenheit in the summer and 77 Fahrenheit in the winter. June is by far the hottest month in Cuba and January is the coldest. Although, temperatures typically only drop to the low 70’s.
How should I dress?
We recommend packing for comfortable travel and to please check the weather report prior to departure. Comfortable, casual walking shoes or sneakers are recommended for the daytime, as you may experience uneven surfaces. Ideal attire includes casual, presentable clothing with a few dressier options for the evening. You may also want to pack a light jacket in the event of rain showers or cooler weather. Please base your attire on your time of travel.
What else do I need to bring?
- Your passport, plus one legible black and white copy of your passport
- Additional cash for souvenirs, tips, and other purchases
- Hand sanitizer / Anti-bacterial wipes
- Sunscreen / Sun hat / Sunglasses
- Personal care items / toiletries
- Personal medication, aspirin/ibuprofen, Tums
- Insect repellent
- Camera / Travel Journal to document your unforgettable memories!
*Note: Passport must be valid for six months after the return date of a scheduled trip.
Things to Know
What are the travel restrictions for Americans?
Traveling to Cuba without a general license through OFAC (U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control) is not legal for Americans. Cultural Explorations Cuba’s people-to-people license (#CT-2014-313195-1) allows us to coordinate legal travel to Cuba for U.S. Citizens. Pursuant to section 31 C.F.R. § 515.565(b)(2) of the Cuban Asset Control Regulations, travelers are able to explore the country, embrace the culture, and engage with the locals. Since 2013, Cultural Explorations Cuba’s license has been authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Is Cuba safe to travel for American travelers?
Cuba, in fact, has a very low crime rate. As with any foreign country, you should be aware of petty crimes like pick pocketing, but otherwise it is a very safe place. The Cuban people are very welcoming towards Americans.
Is the water safe to drink in Cuba?
We recommend only drinking bottled water in Cuba. In hotels, tap water is safe for hygiene purposes. Bottled water can be easily purchased throughout Cuba.
What can I bring home from Cuba?
It is important to note that this is changing often. Currently, you can bring back $400 worth of merchandise in the form of educational items such as: books, films, artwork, posters, and photographs. In addition, as of October 17, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department has allowed for the purchase of agricultural items like cigars, rum and coffee without a monetary limit, as long as it’s for personal use and travelers pay applicable duty.
Do I need an electrical adapter and converter?
The most common electrical voltage in Cuba is 110 volts, although some hotels use 220 volts. You will probably NOT need a 110/220 voltage converter because most of your devices (laptops, iPads, iPhones, etc.) are designed to operate on dual voltages. You should bring a 2 prong to 3 prong adapter just in case your hotel room only have 2 prong receptacles.
Can I use cell phones or Wifi in Cuba?
Telephone services and internet access are not included in the program. In general, there is no cell phone coverage for American mobile devices as of yet. International phone calls may be placed at the hotel, either directly from your guest room or in the lobby for a fee. If you need to use a cell phone, it is suggested to bring an unlocked phone from the U.S. You can obtain SIM cards from any Cubacel office, but need to show your passport. Any phone with a SIM from a U.S. provider will not work in Cuba. In Havana, the only place where foreigners can get a cell phone activated is the Cubacel office at the airport, in both Terminals #2 and #3. Cubacel offers SIM cards for CUC$3 per day. You’ll have to leave a deposit and purchase a prepaid calling card. Prepaid calling cards are sold in denominations of CUC$10, CUC$20 and CUC$40. Rates inside Cuba run between CUC10¢ and CUC60¢ per minute for outgoing calls, depending on the hour and the package. Rates to the US run between CUC$1.40 and CUC$1.83 per minute. Text (SMS) messages are free to receive, but cost CUC16¢ to send within Cuba and CUC$1to send abroad.
To make calls within Cuba:
Dial Cuba’s country code of 53 before any area code and the number you wish to dial in the country.
To make international calls:
Dial 119 and then the country code (1), next dial the area code and number.
Guests may also purchase WiFi at the hotel. Please note that WiFi is often much slower in Cuba than it is in the U.S. and can be quite expensive. Charges are from $8 USD an hour.
There are some mobile apps that may allow you to text and/or make calls from anywhere in the world. These are web based and usually require a Wifi / internet connection. Some of the applications we recommend exploring prior to your trip to Cuba are: Skype, Viber and WhatsApp. Please note: these applications require that the people you wish to connect with State side, also have the same app downloaded to their mobile device and/or desktop.
Skype – Skype may be downloaded to your mobile device and/or desktop and allows you to call, see, message and share with others – wherever they are in the world.
Viber – Viber may be downloaded to your mobile device and/or desktop and lets you send free messages as well as make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country.
WhatsApp – WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia and yes, those phones can all message each other! In addition, you can send unlimited images, video and audio media messages.
What currency is used in Cuba and what is the exchange rate?
A dual currency system is used in Cuba. The Cuban convertible peso, also referred to as CUC, will be the currency you will use in Cuba. CUCs come in the following denominations: 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. The Cuban peso, also called CUP, is only used by Cubans. For information on exchange rates, visit www.xe.com.
Can I exchange money in Cuba?
Yes, airports, hotels and banks can exchange U.S. currency for you. We recommend exchanging money at your hotel, as it is often the most convenient place to make currency exchanges. Make sure to have your passport on hand. Due to the dual currency system used in Cuba, it is strongly advised to not accept offers to exchange currency from anyone who approaches you on the street. Please note that you cannot exchange CUCs outside of Cuba. Make sure you exchange your currency to CUCs upon arrival in Cuba and convert them to USD before you leave Cuba.
Can I use credit cards in Cuba?
At this time credit cards issued by a U.S. Bank are unlikely to be used in Cuba. You should consult with your financial institution to ensure that they will accept the charge from a Cuban vendor. In addition, most venues outside of your hotel will not accept credit cards as of yet. Americans must travel with enough USD currency to cover any additional purchases, incidentals and tipping.
How much money should I bring to Cuba?
We advise you to travel with no less than $500 USD. Please also note that all hotel incidentals such as international calls made from your room need to be paid in cash at the end of your stay because you are unable to put down a credit card issued from a U.S. bank. Please note your personal spending pattern will dictate the final amount of cash you wish to bring.
What type of aircraft will be used if air is booked with Cultural Explorations?
Most of our air crafts are Boeing 737’s that are privately contracted through our air partner. We are a licensed charter company authorized to provide direct, legal flights to Cuba.
What is included in the flight package if air is booked with Cultural Explorations?
• Round-trip air
• VIP Check-in and Services
• Departure Taxes
• Baggage Fees (up to 44lbs – combined checked and carry on)
• Cuban Visa – This will be received with your other flight documents at the airport in Miami upon check-in. We will take care of the paperwork for you.
• Medical Insurance
When and where will the flights depart from if air is booked with Cultural Explorations?
There are typically two daily flights from Miami: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Flights depart from Miami International Airport and arrive into Jose Marti International Airport. Total flight time is 45-50 minutes. If you are driving to Miami International Airport, we recommend parking in the Flamingo Parking Lot and then walk towards the Central Terminal (Third Floor).
Please check-in with your Travel Manager or Air Charter 3-4 hours early in order to receive travel documents needed to board the flight. The check-in area is usually located by the Dunkin Donuts near Concourse G across from the GNC store, unless otherwise stated.
*Note: This information may vary depending on if travelers are flying out of a different airport that we are able to accommodate.
*We are able to provide air accommodations from a number of cities including:
- Los Angeles, CA
- Atlanta, GA
- Tampa, FL
- Houston, TX
- New York, NY among others
Where will I be staying?
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski
The most elegant 5-star hotel in Havana. Located in Old Havana, the panoramic restaurant and rooftop pool offer spectacular views of the city.
Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Eighty-one years of history give prestige to this classic for the distinction Gran Caribe hotel chain. The Hotel Nacional de Cuba is considered a symbol of history, culture and Cuban identity.
Hotel Saratoga is a first-class hotel combining luxury and innovative design with a great range of facilities and services. It is located in the center of action-packed Havana.
The Meliá Cohiba is a 5-star luxury high-rise hotel located in the Vedado district of Havana, Cuba.
Modern, elegant and comfortable, the Meliá Habana is located opposite the Miramar Trade Center and alongside the Havana coastline.
NH Capri La Habana
The 4-star NH Capri hotel is located in the heart of downtown Havana, making it the ideal starting point for getting to know Cuba’s vibrant capital city.
Located on beautiful Central Park in the heart of Havana, Parque Central is considered an oasis, given its location in Havana’s most culturally-vibrant and densely-populated areas.
Tryp Habana Libre
Located in the center for Havana, right at the beginning of La Rampa.
This hotel offers solid accommodation without being baroque or frivolous, in a prime location. Ambos Mundos boasts Spanish Colonial details and was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway.
This enduring Old Havana hotel is a unique triangular-shaped 1895 property with stained glass roof domes. The Hotel Plaza is a short 7 minute walk from El Capitolio, the former seat of government.
Iberostar Hotels & Resort
These are 4- and 5-star complexes with the option of an All-Inclusive regimen and are located right on the beach. These All-Inclusive hotels in Varadero take care of every detail: the rooms are comfortable and luxurious, it has a full and varied gastronomy service to suit all tastes, and the range of entertainment and sports offers guests exciting days.
Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa
Located on the beach at the Rincon Francés zone, within the Varadero ecological reserve. The elegance favors this charming world of privacy and subtle touches, particularly in its inspiring Royal Service.
Blau Marina Varadero
A luxurious hotel surrounded by beautiful gardens and unforgettable views that offers its clients superb service and comfortable environment.
Meliá Las Dunas
Located on the beachfront in Cayo Santa María, exotic spot that dazzles with its natural luxury. You will be captivated as soon as you breathe in the sea air.
A luxury resort on Key Ensenachos where you’ll find some of the most exclusive beaches in Cuba, as well as wellness & spa, all-inclusive accommodations, dream villas and unique excursions.
Bathroom Attendants: Use small coins (10 centavos, 25 centavos, etc.)
Bartenders: $1-2 CUC per drink
Bell Hops: $1-2 CUC per bag
Housekeeping: $1-2 CUC per day. We recommend tipping on a daily basis
Musicians: $1 CUC, if you have enjoyed the performance
Cuban Bus Driver: $30 CUC per person
Cuban Guide: $50 CUC per person
Taxi Driver: 10% of fare
Meals on your own: 10% of fare