(Closed) Who's been to Cuba?

posted 5 years ago in Travel
Post # 3
Member
336 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I went to Cuba a few years ago and stayed on Varadero Beach. I loved it!

Make sure you make an excursion into Havana. We did an all-day one, and went to the most amazing Cuban restaurant for lunch. We also went to a buffet dinner in a hotel in Havana (it was okay) and saw a Cuban variety show at night. We went by bus, and the bus picks you up at the resort. While in Havana, we walked around the city with a tour guide and toured a cigar factory. It was a really great day. One suggestion: take toilet paper with you. I didn’t use the washrooms in the city, but some other women did, and one woman brought toilet paper and they were all sharing.

One other thing I suggest bringing are condiments for your meals on the resort. Iberostars are usually five-star and have a lot of the bells and whistles, but my experience with Cuban ketchup is that it was nothing more than red paste. We went with a group of people and one of the guys brought ketchup, peanut butter, jam and hot sauce. We left it for housekeeping afterward. 

When I went, you could use American cash, but apparently that has been phased out in Cuba. I exchanged money right at the resort, but you may want to pop into the bank before you leave to see what their suggestion is. I know there are two currencies there – the peso and the convertible peso, one of which is much more valuable to Cubans than the other (I think it’s the convertible peso, but I’m not 100% sure). Again, probably best to check with the bank on this one. You really only need money for any of the excursions, and the tax to get out of the country. It all depends on how much you want to do there.

Post # 4
Member
664 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I haven’t been yet, but DH and I are planning a trip to the exact same resort. I hope you’ll post a review when you get back. Have fun with your BFF!

Post # 5
Member
942 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

ha, many Americans where I live get in to Cuba either through Canada or Mexico! Travel at your own risk.

Post # 6
Member
7296 posts
Busy Beekeeper

i went to Varadero years ago (in 2004). my fave excursion was the catamaran cruise.  and we also did a swimming with dolphins excursion, which was amazing.   i remember going out to party at the Cave (i think that was the name). had so much fun!  I am going to Cayo Coco in a couple of weeks and i can;t wait!

 

oh and how can i forget, we also did a day trip to Havana and i saw the Tropicana Show – AMAZING!

Post # 7
Member
130 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

I’ve been to Cuba and its BEAUTIFUL!

 

But the one thing I DEFINITELY recommend is to bring your own snacks! Chips, chocolate.. anything you might crave (you can always leave it for housekeeping if you don’t eat it). After talking to many people who have been there, the food at the all inclusive resorts leave a LOT to be desired. A can of Pringles was $13 US at our resort gift shop! I’m not even one to eat  junk food, but I’ve never wanted a can of Pringles more! haha! 

 

Post # 8
Member
4804 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Hey I just got back from Cuba on Friday!  I stayed at a 5 star Memories resort in Cayo Santa Maria and I have to say that I heard the food was bad before I left, but it was even worse than I expected.  I’m talking HORRIBLE.  Nothing has a taste or a flavour and there is very little variety.  The only snack food we could find was plain Pringles, and we paid about $7 for a tube.  Seriously, TAKE LOTS OF SNACKS!!  I am pretty sure I lost weight on this trip from not wanting to eat the resort food.

Also, you need to have 25 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos) in cash to get on your return flight (airport tax).  I saw people nearly get stranded for not having it…so make sure you do!

If you have any specific questions you’d like to ask, feel free 🙂

p.s. The beach was really nice, but the rest of it is not up to the same level as resorts in other countries (Mexico, Jamaica).  If you don’t expect ultimate luxury, you’ll have a great time (except for the food, it really was as bad as I had heard 🙁  )

Post # 9
Member
2359 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’ve been to Cuba many times.

we stay at Iberostar Playa Alameda.  

they widely accept Canadian money, we exchange some at the resort but for the most part we use Canadian.  

Definately book a small tour to Havana.   we took a small tour with only 8 people the first time, then since then we book private tours to take us to different and less touristy places.   Make sure you bring your own toilet paper down.   The resorts have it but when you go off the resort trust me you will need it.  

Definately take the bus into veradero Town.    We don’t visit the markets anymore but rather we hit up all the small little bars and have a few drinks at each.   Cuba really does make the best piña coladas And mojitos. 

DEFINATELY spend the money and go on the catamaran excursion.  It’s THE BEST we’ve experienced anywhere.

 

Post # 10
Member
2359 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Yea the food is horrible, we usually live off pizza and fries and pasta.   they don’t have spices and stuff to add to their food so it’s very bland.   half the time it’s so humid the salt doesn’t even come out of the shakers but take it for what it is because other then food Cuba is amazing.

Post # 11
Member
2359 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Bring lots of sunscreen and bug spray, the bugs are bad and the sun is HOT.

 

Post # 12
Member
9955 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Haven’t been to Cuba yet (probably in the next year or so) … but have many many friends & family members who have.

Here is what I have learned from them…

Cuba has literally 2 forms of money…

Local Money and Tourist Money

The locals for the most part use local money.  Tourists don’t have access to that money.

Tourist money can only be got / bought at the Airport or Resorts in Cuba… not outside of the country because it is worthless anywhere else.  The rate fluctuates often…

American Dollars are not used in Cuba… this goes back to the fact that Cuba doesn’t have a relationship with the USA.  Infact they won’t accept any American Credit Cards (either in US Funds or distinctly US in nature)… and they make Tourists coming into their country with American Money PAY A SURCHARGE to convert it (a Penalty / Tax if you will).  So leave your American Express Card at home (a Canadian Visa or Credit Card is fine)… US Money, or US Travellers cheques.

From Varadero make sure and take a day excursion (as a minimum) to Havana… people tell us you don’t want to miss this opportunity.  Infact, when we go to Cuba we are looking at spending one week at a Beach Resort in Varadero, and one week with a Cuban Family at a “casa” (home stay… sort of like a B&B here in Canada).  So to be able to take in the incredible architecture and music scene in Havana.

Bring BUG SPRAY.  Mosquitos can be bad at certain times of the year… warmer months.  But also altho the beaches are gorgeous in Cuba, they have a lot of sand flies !!

For more info… I suggest that you check out TripAdvisor… they have a fantastic section on Cuba… with a Travel Guide – Reviews for Accommodations, Restaurants & Attractions… as well as Forums where you can post Questions and get one-on-one replies (like we do here on the WBee Boards) with Destination Experts (a lot of them are Canadians) and folks who know the country really really well.

TripAdvisor – Cuba Tourism / Travel Guide = http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g147270-Cuba-Vacations.html

Hope this helps,

 

 

Post # 13
Member
1071 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

Hi, I’m an american and I have been to cuba!  I went on a trip with the spanish department of my school as part of an exchange with the university of Havana’s philosophy department.  I LOVED Cuba!!! It is an incredibly beautiful and fascinating country.  I spent most of my time in Havana and the western part of the island.   I would highly reccomend the music/club scene in Havana, it is so much fun.  There is this little club called el submarino amarillo (the yellow submarine) and they have cuban cover bands singing classics like the beatles, its so much fun! Drink lots of insanely cheap delicious rum, smoke some cigars, soak up the culture, and relax on the beach.

I also totally disagree about the food being horrible.  I had wonderful food pretty much the whole time!

@This Time Round:  

Local Money and Tourist Money

The locals for the most part use local money.  Tourists don’t have access to that money.


The first part of your statement is correct.  The local money is called moneda nacional (MN) and the “tourist money” is called CUC or pesos convertibles.  1 CUC is worth 24 MN.  However, tourists can absolutely get access to MN at most places that change money.  Also, if you buy items from locals they often give you your change in MN even if you pay them if CUC.  If you get off the beaten tourist path prices are often posted in MN.  

Not trying to be a know-it-all, I just thought this info might help for your future trip!

Post # 14
Member
9955 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

TO @Mrs.babycat: thank you for the clarification… much appreciated.

 

Post # 15
Member
2359 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@Mrs.babycat:  although you are right about the money, you are just confusing a first timer. 

it’s better known as the Cuban Peso…. That’s how tourists know it.  The tourist money is CUC(Cuban convertible peso).   Those are the only two terms you will see and hear about When researching it and when you get there.

most first timers will not go off the beaten path for their first time.

 

Post # 16
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

Me!!!! I’ve been to CUBA!! Yes, I’m an American, but I was able to obtain a special permit to visit Cuba for a week about 9-10 years ago with a school group in my university. I Loved CUBA!!

Everyone is so friendly! I loved riding in the Coco-Taxis. They are tiny, 3 wheeled taxis and are so fun to ride in! I spent most of my time in Havana. I specifically remember visting a bar (sadly, I don’t remember it’s name) that was frwquented by Ernest Hemmingway while he lived there. You get to write on the walls there!!

The beach is gorgeous!! I walked into to the water, up to my waist and could still see my toes and tiny little fish!!

Cuba is where I realized that my nationality (according to others) is all relative! In the US, I am Mexican-American. In Mexico, I am just American. And in Cuba, I was just Mexican.

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