The main language in Cuba is Spanish.
Special note: Due to the highly unique nature of travel in Cuba for US travelers, our travelers will want to carefully review the pre-departure information we send you regarding money before you leave for your trip.
There are two currencies that are in circulation in Cuba: The Cuban Peso, which is used by Cubans for public transportation and local vegetable markets, and the CUC, the convertible peso. The CUC is the currency you will use. You can exchange money at any hotel or money exchange house. The current rate is 100 CUC to 100 USD. Your tour leader will review the Cuban currency in more depth at your orientation meeting.
Although credit and debit cards are now permitted to be used in Cuba, they still do not work. Travelers checks as well do not work. It is very important that you bring cash for all of your needs. Although each person is different, we recommend that you bring between $75-90 dollars per day for your tour. US dollars are not accepted in Cuba, so they will need to be converted into Cuban Convertible Pesos, or “CUC.. Currently US dollars are subject to a 13% tax on converting USD to CUC. Your tour leader will help address questions about money at your Day 1 orientation in Miami and we’ll also send detailed information to you in the pre-departure information packet we send to all of our Cuba travelers.
For directory or operator assistance you would dial “113” if you’re looking for a number inside Cuba or dial “180” for numbers to other countries and collect calls.
Your cell phone will not work in Cuba. In order to avoid charges, we recommend turning off your cellular data and turning your phone to airplane mode. If you need to make a phone call to the US when you are in Cuba, you can do so from your hotel in Havana at a cost of approximately $2.50 dollars a minute. Many of the hotels in Cuba now offer WIFI service which can be obtained by buying an hour or half-hour long card and using a username and password. The internet can be very slow and sometimes not work at all, and so it’s best to advise your family and friends that you will be out of touch during your time in Cuba.
Electric plugs in the hotels in Cuba will vary from 110-220 Volts. While most electronic devices accept 110-220, we recommend reviewing the electronic items you plan to take before leaving home in order to see if you will need a 110-220 converter. Some of the hotels will provide hair dryers. For example, the majority of electronics (iPhones included) can withstand electronic currents up to 240 volts, and so no converter is necessary.
You will be provided with two small bottles of water each day in Cuba. While many Cubans drink the tap water, we recommend only drinking the bottled water. Just to be prudent, we recommend using the bottled water for teeth brushing too. It’s important to keep well hydrated in Cuba as it can be warm and in the summertime it can be extremely humid. Some travelers bring SteriPens, handheld water purifiers, and a water bottle, and they find this works well.
It is important to bring all the medication that you may need with you. While Cuban medical care is good, the pharmacies in Cuba are not well stocked and medicines can be hard to obtain. We recommend leaving your prescriptions in their bottles and keeping them labeled.
No inoculations are currently required for travel to Cuba. However the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that all international travelers have up-to-date tetanus, polio and hepatitis A vaccinations. For more details please visit the CDC website on Cuba.
There is a risk of dengue fever in the Caribbean. It is one of the most common viral diseases transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes. No vaccine is available to prevent dengue, and there is no specific treatment other than therapeutic support. Travelers can reduce the risk by protecting themselves from mosquito bites, using repellent containing at least 90% DEET or Picaridin on exposed skin. Important to note is that mosquitoes are not common in Cuba, but many bring a small repellent spray with them.
Should you require medical attention during the tour, your AWR tour leader and/or local guide will be there to assist you.
Taking care of yourself is probably the best protection against getting sick. Part of this is getting enough rest and drinking enough water. Mild diarrhea and sunstroke are two of the most common ailments for tourists in Cuba, and these are preventable with the necessary precautions. Make sure you bring sunscreen to protect yourself, and drink lots of non-alcoholic drinks during your trip.