Getting Ready for Cuba – What to Pack, Food, Currency and WiFi

I was in Cuba for a couple of weeks last October. While it’s a destination that I highly recommend visiting, it does require some preparation – including setting expectations and packing the right things.

Below you will find some useful tips based on my experience – feel free to comment or write me if you have questions!

October is considered to be in the rainy season, however as it’s a tropical climate it’s usually hot and humid throughout the year. Therefore, I suggest to pack clothes from breathable fabrics, that are light and not too tight.

These are the items I ended up using most:

  • Tank tops
  • Shorts
  • Disposable rain ponchos
  • Walking shoes
  • Water sandals
  • Flip flops

Specifically for the ladies –

  • 3/4 tights
  • Light dresses – if you want to rock the dance floors 🙂
  • Nice flats for the evening – this is optional, but for sure leave the heels at home, I promise you will not be using them!

Keep in mind there aren’t many places where you can purchase toiletries, and when available they are usually pricey.

I recommend to bring everything you can from home, particularly:

  • Soap – not always available, even in hotels
  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • TP/tissues, toilet sit covers and hand sanitizer – for the public restrooms
  • Sunscreen – LOTS OF IT!!
  • Mosquito replant – A MUST!
  • For ladies: tampons or any hygiene product you normally use

The currency in Cuba for tourists is called CUC – and is equivalent in value to 1 USD. There’s almost nothing to do with credit cards, so bring only one with you for backup.

It’s best to bring all the money you’re planning to spend, and exchange it at the airport as you arrive. Any left over money can be exchanged back at the airport when you leave.

It’s important to manage expectations when it comes to the food in Cuba.
Keep in mind that food in tourist restaurants consists mostly of rice, beans and chicken.

There are some fruits and veggies, and I also encountered fish and shrimp a couple of times, but overall the variety is not vast.
Here is a typical dinner at a Casa I was staying at:

Casa Particular Dinner Cuba

I brought from home some snacks including energy bars, crackers, cookies and oatmeal for breakfast. These were really useful, especially on long bus rides.

There are also street stands that sell plain pizza for about 0.5-1 CUC if you are looking for a quick fix.

And while you can argue that alcohol is not food – I disagree 🙂 My favorite drink was Cuba Libre and I made sure to take some rum bottles back home with me.

Cuba libre cuba

Keep in mind that access to the internet in Cuba is very limited,  so make sure you let your family, friends and workplace know that there’s a good chance you could be offline for a couple of days at a time.

You can only sign-in in specific locations in every city (usually in main squares or hotel lobby’s) . If your’e wondering where it is, just look for a tree with a bunch of people standing under it and looking on their phones 🙂

Wi-Fi tree Cuba

To access the network, you will also need to purchase a special card with an access code. There are cards for 1 hour or 5 hours, and you can purchase up to 3 cards at a time.

The WiFi network is operated by ETECSA, and the card can be purchased at airports and some hotels. The cost is 1.5 CUC per hour.

With amazing architecture, beautiful sceneries and colorful streets, your Cuba photo album will probably be one of your best ones.

Make sure you have enough memory in your phone or camera for the entire trip – I promise you will be needing it.

I’ll finish with some examples for inspiration:)

Street at Trinidad Cuba

Street at Havana Vieja

Havana CubaViñales CubaBici Taxi Cuba

Shop in Havana

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