How To Travel To Cuba In 2019: A Guide For Americans

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American Travel in Cuba

How to Travel to Cuba for Americans

Traveling To Cuba [UPDATED: January 2019]

While relations between Cuba & the United States are improving, there are still travel regulations in place. Here’s how you can legally travel to Cuba as an American!

2019 UPDATE: President Trump announced changes in travel rules for Cuba. You can no longer travel to Cuba under the People To People category as an individual, and you can’t spend money at military-owned businesses.

However, you CAN still travel under the Support For The Cuban People category. Keep reading below for more details!

Back in 1960, the United States imposed a severe trade embargo against Cuba. The Blockade was created after Cuba nationalized American-owned oil refineries without compensation.

As part of this embargo, travel to Cuba by Americans has been restricted for over half a century. Or more specifically, it’s technically illegal for U.S. citizens to have transactions (spend money or receive gifts) in Cuba under most circumstances.

Basically, this regulation has prevented most Americans from considering Cuba as a travel destination.

Due to economic sanctions, air travel to Cuba from the United States was almost impossible. American credit & debit cards don’t work in Cuba either.

However rules for traveling to Cuba are finally beginning to change.

Traveling to Cuba for Americans

Exploring the Tobacco Farms of Viñales

Can Americans Travel To Cuba?

Even though travel to Cuba for Americans is restricted, that doesn’t make it impossible to visit. For many years some intrepid Americans were traveling to Cuba anyway. Initially, there were three ways to accomplish this.

Special License

You could register for a special license with the US Government if the reason for your travel fit a certain category. These include family visits, professional reasons, journalism, religious or cultural programs, and humanitarian projects.

While you no longer need pre-approval for such a license, technically your visit should still match one of the categories to stay legal. Just in case someone in the US decides to ask later (which doesn’t happen).

12 CATEGORIES OF AUTHORIZED TRAVEL TO CUBA FOR AMERICANS

  • Family visits
  • Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • 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 information materials
  • Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.

People To People Tours

Organized tours that involve some sort of educational experience with local Cuban people. It’s never been defined officially, but basically, your trip can’t just involve sitting on a beach.

Travelers would talk with a school, volunteer for a community project, or collaborate with artists. A kind of legal loophole that tour companies use to sell tours in Cuba.

Foreign Gateway Cities

The other option was to travel to Cuba “illegally” through a foreign gateway city. This means flying yourself to Canada or Mexico first, then traveling to Cuba on your own from one of those countries. Because for the rest of the world, Cuba has been a popular travel destination for many years.

It’s only us Americans who haven’t been able to visit Cuba!

Independent Travel To Cuba In 2019

As of 2019, the rules state that Americans must travel to Cuba in organized tour groups, or independently under the “Support For The Cuban People” category.

To adhere to the new policies as an independent traveler you need to:

  • Travel under any of the 12 allowed categories, including Support The Cuban People. You simply declare that category when booking flights, lodging, and during re-entry into the US.
  • Stay at casas particulares, eat at local restaurants, and support local businesses.
  • Avoid staying at hotels banned by the US State Department and spending money at military-owned businesses. Here is a complete list.
  • Keep detailed records of your time in Cuba. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) can ask you about your travels for the next five years. If you can’t prove that your trip fell within one of the 12 approved categories, you could get in trouble.

While the US government has never asked me about my time in Cuba, and other Americans’ trip reports seem to conclude the same, I can’t guarantee it won’t happen in the future. I’m simply sharing my experience. I’m not worried though.

Basically, the rules haven’t changed much. President Trump is trying to discourage travel to Cuba, but he’s not making it impossible either.

For now you can still travel to Cuba independently, but you’ll need to choose an approved travel category other than People To People tours. Declare a category like Support For The Cuban People instead.

Build an itinerary containing activities that meet the criteria for that category — or get help from local experts to plan a legal trip (5% discount for Expert Vagabond readers!).

If you’re feeling naughty, you can also simply travel through a foreign gateway city like Toronto or Cancun like thousands of other Americans have, including myself.

Cuban immigration won’t stamp your passport, and the US Government will never know you visited Cuba.

American Travel in Cuba

Local Game of Dominoes in the Streets of Havana

Cuban Visa Process

In April 2016 I traveled to Cuba as an American with my girlfriend Anna from Anna Everywhere and our friends Hannah & Adam from Getting Stamped.

We traveled through the popular foreign gateway city of Cancun, Mexico.

We bought 30-day Cuban tourist visas at the airport in Cancun for $20.

Visas were purchased at the check in counter (or while waiting in line) before your flight. The visa is a separate card you keep with your passport, but it’s not attached.

We flew into Havana from Cancun on the Mexican budget airline Interjet for $240 USD round trip, and the flight took about an hour.

In August 2016, the US government started allowing American companies to resume flights to Cuba.

Airlines that are flying to Cuba from the United States now include American, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, United, Spirit, Alaska, and Delta.

For flights leaving from the Untied States, the visa process can be different depending on the airline you’re flying with.

Here’s more information about obtaining a Cuban visa in the United States, depending on who you’re flying with:

  • Southwest: $50 – Purchase online & delivered at the gate
  • JetBlue: $50 – Purchase at gate
  • Delta: $50 – Purchase at gate or through mail
  • United: $75 – Purchase at gate
  • American: $85 – Purchase online & sent via regular mail
  • Frontier: $110 – Purchase online & sent via regular mail

Some reports suggest that it’s not the same everywhere though.

For these reasons, I recommend calling your airline beforehand to verify.

Check prices for cheap flights to Cuba here.
Cuban Visa for Americans

My $20 Cuban Visa

Entering & Cuban Immigration

The Cuban immigration process was super simple. I told the officer in Havana that I was traveling to Cuba for tourism, and he offered to stamp my visa card instead of my passport. This has been standard operating procedure for years.

Cuba WANTS American tourism, so they offer to stamp your visa card instead of your actual passport, so you don’t get in trouble with the US government later.

This way, when you return to the United States, it just looks like you traveled to Mexico. Or Canada. There’s no passport record of your travel to Cuba! They will never know you were there.

However, I asked the Cuban immigration agent to stamp my passport directly. I was curious what would happen when I returned to the United States. Would anyone ask me about it? Would I get fined or arrested?

Nothing happened. When I returned to the United States, immigration didn’t even ask me what countries I’d been to, and they didn’t look at my passport stamps either.

Cuban Currency

Two Different Kinds of Money

Exchanging Money In Cuba

Credit & debit cards issued by American banks still don’t work in Cuba. So a trip to the island involves bringing lots of cash. How much? Please read my full budget travel guide to Cuba here. To give you an idea, you can travel there comfortably on $50 – $100 per day.

Bring more than you need to be safe. If you run out, you’re out of luck!

Cuba actually has two different currencies. The Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) is the “tourist” currency, pegged to the American dollar. The Cuban Peso (CUP) is what locals use, and worth a lot less. So when you exchange money as a tourist, you’ll receive CUC.

$1 USD = 1 CUC = 24 CUP

You can exchange US dollars for CUC, but there is a special 10% penalty fee for this service. So it’s cheaper to exchange Euros, Canadian Dollars, British Pounds, or Mexican Pesos for CUC instead.

There’s an official currency exchange outside the airport in Havana. You can exchange your leftover CUC back to US dollars (or whatever) before you leave the country too.

Casa Particular Cuba

Inside Our Casa Particular in Trinidad

Accommodation In Cuba

You’ll find some hotels & resorts in the most popular tourist cities like Havana, Trinidad, and Varadero. But they generally aren’t cheap. To travel on a budget in Cuba, you’ll want to stay with locals in casas particulares.

A “casa particular” is like a homestay or guesthouse in someone’s home. They sometimes include breakfast and run between $20 – $30 per night for a double room. To operate a casa particular, local families need to register & pay special taxes to the Cuban government.

Most casa’s don’t have websites, so you just walk around and ask about availability when you get there. If one is booked, the owner will usually help you find another nearby.

AirBnB is now operating in Cuba too! We booked our first two nights in Havana through AirBnB.

Renting a Car in Cuba

Our Rental Car in Cuba

Transportation In Cuba

Cuban Bus System

Cuba has a government run bus company for tourists called Viazul that covers most of the country. Tickets aren’t very expensive, but you can’t book them online yet, and popular routes sell out fast. Which means you might need to buy your ticket in person at the station the day before.

Renting A Car

We rented a modern car in Cuba for 6 of the 10 days we were there. Renting a car in Cuba isn’t easy or cheap. There aren’t many vehicles available yet, so you generally have to book a car at least 2 weeks in advance by calling or emailing the company.

When we arrived in Havana, we tried to rent a car directly at the airport with no reservation and were told repeatedly there were no cars left. Eventually Anna found a guy who said he had two, but from the same company who earlier said they had none, Via Rent A Car (they have no website, but you can book online through other sites like Cuba Junky).

So it seemed a bit shady/strange… but we ultimately got one.

Renting a car in Cuba with insurance is going to cost you between $70 – $90 USD per day. It’s not cheap! Luckily we split the cost between 4 of us. There’s also a $200 cash deposit required.

Vintage Taxi

The other option for traveling around Cuba is to rent a vintage American car with driver. This isn’t cheap unless you split the cost with a few people.

Hailing a vintage taxi for a short ride in town will cost you $8 – $10. Renting one for a longer 2-3 hour trip can cost around $60 -$70 USD depending on your bargaining skills.

Split between 4 people, our 3-hour vintage taxi ride from Havana to Viñales cost $60, about the same as 4 bus tickets, but we could stop anytime we wanted for photos or snacks. The cars are super cool too!

I’ve also heard it’s possible to rent one for a full day for $100 – $120.

Internet in Cuba

Using WiFi Internet Cards

Internet/WiFi In Cuba

Despite popular opinion, there is some internet access in Cuba. That wasn’t always the case though. For many years Cuba was one of the least connected countries in the world. The government does censor some stuff though, like access to Snapchat or anti-government blogs.

These days you can get connected through Cuba’s state-run ETECSA telecom company. Tourists can buy ETECSA prepaid wifi cards at special kiosks for $2 – $3 per hour of service.

These scratch-off type cards provide a username and password for ETECSA wifi networks, which can be found at major hotels or in public parks around the country.

You can often buy additional cards from locals in the park or at a hotel front desk for about $6. The internet isn’t blazing fast, but you can certainly upload web-sized photos to Facebook & Instagram.

Passport Stamp Cuba

My Pink Cuban Passport Stamps!

Cuban Exit Fee

As of May 1st 2015, Cuba no longer charges the $25 CUC exit fee to travelers leaving the country, this fee is now included in the price of your airline.

Drinking Water In Cuba

Tap water in Cuba is not safe to drink, and bottled water can sometimes be difficult to find depending on where you are. If you plan on traveling to Cuba, I recommend picking up a LifeStraw Filtered Water Bottle. It’s better for the environment too!

Can You Bring Back Cigars?

I thought you’d never ask! So officially, if you are traveling to Cuba under one of the 12 special categories, you are now allowed to bring back $400 worth of souvenirs, including up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars. Yay!

I managed to bring 30 Cuban cigars back into the United States. I was never questioned about tobacco, and it’s not listed on the customs form as something I have to declare anyway.

Is Traveling To Cuba Ethical?

Good question. While it’s probably impossible to completely avoid giving some of your tourist dollars to the Cuban Government, traveling to Cuba does help the local economy there, which has been hurting badly for years.

Everyone seems to be worried that Cuba is going to get “destroyed” by American tourism, which seems ridiculous to me.

Sure, things will slowly change over time, as they do. Old buildings will get repaired, newer cars will fill the roadways, etc. But those changes will IMPROVE the lives of Cubans — which is a good thing.

It’s really pretty arrogant and egotistical for tourists to wish Cuba remains in a perpetual state of decay for their personal entertainment.

Cubans deserve progress and a better life, just like the rest of us!

Most Recent Changes

To learn more about the legality of traveling to Cuba as an American, check out the Treasury Department’s Cuba FAQ. ★

Traveling To Cuba Soon?

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.

Bonus Travel Video! 10 Days In Cuba


Subscribe to my YouTube Channel for new Adventure Travel Videos!

(Click to watch 10 Days In Cuba – Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, and More on YouTube)

USEFUL TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR CUBA
Location: Cuba
Planning Advice – Get help planning a legal trip to Cuba
Book A Flight: Learn how I find the cheapest airline flights
Rent A Car: RentalCars.com is a great site for comparing car prices
Find A Hotel: My tips for booking affordable accommodation
Protect Your Stuff: WorldNomads.com can insure your trip & gear
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Cuba
Suggested Reading: The Other Side Of Paradise

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How to Travel to Cuba for Americans. More at ExpertVagabond.com
How to Travel to Cuba for Americans. More at ExpertVagabond.com
How to Travel to Cuba for Americans. More at ExpertVagabond.com

Have any questions about how to travel to Cuba? Are you planning a trip there? Drop me a message in the comments below!

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471 Comments

  1. Hi there quick question! my fiancé and I are trying to make a quick trip to Cuba before he goes on back on tour. were trying to catch a flight from Dallas to Cancun, then connecting flight from Cancun to Havana. While purchasing my ticket online it asked if I was a u.s. citizen and if I fall under the 12 categories. Since I don’t should I just mark yes to it and proceed to buy the tickets to Cuba online, or when I land in cancun should I then buy a ticket to cuba in person at the airport?
    Which is the best way possible without being anxious about either getting in trouble for giving false information or for not being able to catch a flight!!!

  2. Hello! I have booked my flights to cuba and I have a few questions. I am a permanent resident of the US, Am i allowed to travel to Cuba like the rest of my family with US passports? Also… are immunizations required for travel? Health insurance proof? I also booked two days in Havana through an airbnb and 4 in Varadero. Except that i just saw that the resort we choose to stay in varadero is banned by the US what does this mean?

  3. Hi,
    I found ur book quite informative. Thanks. My daughter, grand daughter & I will b travelling to Cuba under the ‘ Support for the People’ category. I’m a nurse, my daughter, IT & my grnddtr film producer/writer, we R planning to share articles/commodoties from our professions with the Cuban people, compare ours & their cultures & basically help them in whatever way we can. Any suggestions?
    Thanks for a response.

  4. Hi Matthew,
    Loved the article!

    Quick question: Traveling from Cancun to Cuba, then Cuba back to Cancun, then Cancun to Miami. I will type up an itinerary and will also have a contact of distant family in Havana. I will be traveling with 3 Americans total. Do I need any of these licenses they speak of online? I decided to do a gateway city instead of going from Havana to Miami directly. We will be staying in an airbnb.

    Let me know your thoughts, I am still a little confused.

  5. Hi Matt
    Great info . I am traveling to Havana next week
    How easy is it to bring art back to U.S. ? Does the $400 allowed include any art purchased?
    Thanks
    Saul

  6. Loved this article and very happy I stumbled onto it! You covered so much…thank you for the information. I had a question, being that it’s “illegal”…how likely are you to recommend traveling with my daughters…ages 9, 16 and 21?

  7. Hi Matt. My wife, daughter and I will be traveling to Mexico City in November to visit family who are living there now. Our plan to make it to Cuba is as follows. Buy roundtrip tix from Seattle to CDMX with a return date a couple of weeks after our arrival. When we arrive in CDMX we plan to purchase our roundtrip tix from CDMX to Havana with cash for later in the week after we’ve visited family for a few days. Return to CDMX, spend another few days with family then catch our return trip from CDMX to Seattle. With the exception of needing to complete our visas on the day of travel to Cuba am I missing anything? I’m so glad I found your website. Traveling through a foreign gate was my plan all along based on rumors and what I thought we might be able to pull off, but I’m nervous that we won’t be able to get to Cuba for some unforeseen reason. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. Your plan sounds good Ryan! I don’t think purchasing your ticket to Cuba in cash is really necessary either. No one is actually enforcing this stuff. It would be far too complicated and expensive. Thousands of Americans are traveling to Cuba every month with no problems.

      1. Thanks Matt. I guess with regard to using cash I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to use my American credit or debit cards to make purchases like flights to cuba, but if i’m using it in mexico to purchase tickets I guess it wouldn’t be an issue. Thanks for the help

  8. I am a US citizen and I will be making my 3rd trip to Cuba next week. I see a lot of the same questions here, so let me answer a couple basics– first, if you are flying or taking a cruise to Cuba, your cruise company or the airline will inform you how to get the Visa. Southwest sends you a link and you can apply for your Visa and it is waiting for you when you check in ($50). Some of them also have desks at the airport where you can buy it the day you fly.
    On my first trip to Cuba I noticed the horrible condition of the street animals. When I got home I networked on Facebook looking for groups working to help the animals in Cuba. There are several groups, and through them I networked and was welcomed as a volunteer with a group of vets in Cuba. I bring a lot of supplies for their use as vets since so much is so hard to get in Cuba. If you go to Cuba, please save some space in your suitcase for some donations – paper, pencils, pens, soaps, shoes, children’s toys, simple household goods (scrubby sponges, the ones with real cellulose were a big hit!) tools, etc. They don’t even sell pet food in Cuba, so if you are an animal lover, please consider bringing donations for them as well. No beef, pork, venison, lamb- chicken and fish are okay. Peanut butter is impossible to find so bring that and you’ll have some new friends!

    Cuba is a wonderful place and you will be amazed at how little they have to work with yet somehow they are making it work. You can make it work, too with designing your own humanitarian project. You need to save your notes of what you did for 5 years (US Policy). Going though customs both ways was easy. Don’t say anything is a donation or you may be charged a 100% duty tax by Cuba– say everything is for your personal use or a gift (keep the gifts under $50 total). Read the guidelines for what you can bring to Cuba on the Cuban gov’t/airport websites.

  9. Hi Matthew! Thanks to a break from work and an American Airlines voucher, I now plannes a trip to Cuba in a heartbeat for… next week !
    Here is my question : I am french-american, my flight is NYC – Havana with a 1h45 lay-over in Miami. Do you think I should leave NYC as a US citizen and then leave Miami as a french citizen, or would that be too complicated ?
    Also I was thinking on buying the visa card in Miami, do you think 1h45 is enough time ?
    Thanks for you helpful article and your answers !!

  10. My wife and I (US citizens) will be traveling by sailboat to the Caribbean and will be skirting the northern coast of Cuba and would like to visit several small ports along the way. Can we get tourist cards/visas for that purpose? Thanks

  11. Hi Matthew,
    I am very confused as to the process of traveling to Cuba. I will be attending a wedding in Santo Domingo, DR in June 2018 and most of us want to go to Cuba from there and fly back to NY from Cuba. I called the Dominican airline for information about obtaining the visa and they advised me to call the US Consulate. In your article you say that as along as people travel via a gateway it shouldn’t be a problem. What would be the process to travel to Cuba from DR if we are all US citizens returning to the US from Cuba? Please advise as soon as you can. Thank you.

    1. Hope this response isn’t too late. You can fly to Cuba from the Dominican Republic via Cubana Airlines (very affordable & safe). Last I knew, the flights were only out of Santo Domingo, but this may have changed with the expansions of the international airports in Punta Cana & Puerto Plata. While your waiting in line to check in, an airline employee will approach you & ask about your Cuban tourist visa. If you do not have one, you can purchase one at this time for about $25.

      Upon your return to the U.S., you’ll be asked the basic questions. That’s it. With that said, however, make sure you keep detailed records of your time in Cuba: OFAC can ask you about your travels for the next five years. If you can’t prove that your trip fell within one of the 12 approved categories, you may find yourself in some hot water.

  12. Hi Matt,
    I have dual citizenship US and European.
    If I enter Cuba from Europe using my European passport, and fly directly from Havana to New York with my US passport, should I expect any problems?

  13. Hi..I’m not U.S citizen. First of all I’ll fly from L.A. to Panama city daily and finally to Havana by a connecting flight. After my holiday in Cuba, I decide to return back to Miami from Havana.
    Here are my questions :
    1- During departure and arrival; The forbidden rules for preventing travel of US citizen is also binding me or not ?
    2- Entering to Cuba from an other country instead of USA is the best way ?
    3- Directly return back to Miami from Havana is there any trouble for me ? Or using any connecting flight from any other country ?
    Thanks for your all help indeed..

  14. Hello Matt,

    I want to plan a trip to Cuba in September 2018, my question to you ism if I can fly from Mexico City or TJ to Cuba, would I fly back from Cuba to the US or must I fly back to whichever Mexican city I flew out of? I would get a Visa from the flight desk in Mexico.. correct?

    I’m SO happy I found your site, I want to celebrate my 50th in Cuba and now I feel I’ve found a way!

    1. Hi Ophelia, a fellow traveler here. My wife and I went to Cuba last year (8/2017). Matt’s descriptions are to the “T”. We live in San Francisco, CA and were visiting family in Palm Springs, CA so we planned to flight out of Mexicali. We booked our flight Mexicali-Mexico City-Cuba round trip at the Aeromexico website. When you book your tickets, they ask you what Category you are visiting under. When checking in at the Mexicali airport they told us to buy our visas at a Aeromexico customer service desk in the Mexico City airport. We bought Cuban cigars and Ron. On our way back when we crossed from Mexicali to USA we had no problems at all.

    2. Hi Ophelia,
      I’m also hoping to visit Cuba for my 50th in Jan 2019! We are planning to fly from SF to Mexico City, spend 2 nights there, then fly to Havana for 4 nights, then back to Mexico City to catch our flight to SF. Sounds like you’re doing something similar…wondering if you’ll wait then to get your visas at airport in Mexico? Also, we want to stay at a casa particular but how do you find a good one? Thanks for any info!

  15. Hi. You say travel to Cuba via a gateway country. I’m English, my husband is American and we live in the UK. Could he travel to Cuba from the UK? Without issues.
    Thanks

    1. Cheyenne,

      I’m an American & my wife is Dutch. Although we currently reside in Texas, we lived in the Netherlands for many years. We have flown from Amsterdam to Havana on several occasions without issue; however, our flights were direct: there were no layovers in the U.S. As such, we encountered no issues whatsoever. (And I always kept detailed records just in case.)

      Even if u do have layovers in the U.S., I highly doubt you’ll encounter any problems. I don’t know anyone (American) who has.

      The biggest problem we’ve encountered with the U.S. government is this: having to report my wife’s income to the IRS when we lived in Europe.

  16. Hi! I was wondering if you can lie about it being educational. Will they ask for proof of one of the 12 categories? Please let me know as I am really trying to plan a trip to cuba!

  17. Can anyone advise on the real deal for Americans staying in a hotel vs an airbnb. Flights are booked and we have an itinerary full of support for Cuban People but would prefer to stay in a hotel. Getting mixed feedback if that is against policy.

    1. Most of the hotels in Cuba are owned by the government, therefore it would be illegal/against official US policy for you to stay at a gov’t owned hotel. You can stay at Casa Particulars without a problem.

  18. Hi I really appreciate all your information about cuba. If we travel from cancun to Cuba then we will have 2 entries to Cancun so when we get back to usa and if they see it we will be asked???where else did we go ??

  19. Thanks for the great information! As you know the Trump administration just (November 2017) required that US travelers be accompanied by an authorized tour guide. I have been to Cuba twice and I speak Spanish. Do you know how I could become a registered tour guide. I want to take a group from my church. Thanks.

  20. Hello,
    we are a a group of 11 Italian citizen that bought a Delta flight on September 3 to reach Havana from New York on Dec 30 2017. We go there to have people to people exchanges and to help the local people. We stay in casa particular (already booked with airbnb). Could you please let me know if with the new rules I will be in trouble to rech Cuba from NY and in case what I need to do to solve the problems?
    Thank you,

    Federico

  21. Help!! Bought Flights, Booked a Cruise, and Booked a hotel in Havana. I found out that my father’s US Passport lists Birth place as Cuba. If we buy the “Tourist Card” and go through immigration will we have a problem? Is there some other documents that are required. We are to fly to Cuba on 11/30/2017. If any one can give me any information or experiences with this specific issue would be great!

  22. Hi,
    I am planning to fly to Cuba (via Canada) with my bf. We are german citizen and live and work under a visa in the US. Now it is mixed in the internet if we fall under the categorie of US citizen or not. Even the airline said no and allowed us to book. We don’t have to spend USD there, we can also pay in EUR. We are going to meet our german family over there. Does it fall under the category “family visit”.
    My question: will it be problematic for us coming back to US? And what to say to US custom control when they ask us where we go, what we did, etc.? What would you recommend for us?
    Please send me some tips via email. I really appreciate that.

  23. Hi I bougth the flight ticket before Mr Trumps changes
    I found this in NYTimes:
    What if I have already booked my trip?
    According to the Treasury Department, travelers who have already booked part of their journey, even if it is an individual people-to-people trip, may go ahead.

    Do you know If thats right?
    Anders from Sweden

  24. Great information, Can I book a reservation at an all inclusive from the U.S.? We are staying in smaller places mostly but might do a few days at one of the resorts. Or should I wait until I get to Cuba? Does it even matter?

  25. Hey Matthew…me and my bf are planning to go to Cuba November 2017. I’m Canadian… so no worries there! He however is a US Citizen….we are planning to fly from Canada with Sunwing. Should I call Sunwing and ask them about the visa? he is a bit worried as am I…please send me an email giving me some tips!

    1. Maybe call to be sure, but thousands of Americans travel to Cuba through Mexico and Canada every year. I doubt it will be an issue. Canada doesn’t care. Every traveler to Cuba needs a visa, so he’ll just get one when you do. At the airport in Canada before you take off.

    2. Hi Nusrat! My husband and I were considering going to Cuba in May. We are US citizens so we are concerned about the recent restrictions. After reading this articles and the comments, we are considering going through Canada. I would love to know how it works out for your bf!

  26. Hi! I’m Planning a trip April 2018! Is this blog up to date as far as what I need to get there? We’ve found a few ways… viahero, from Cancun, and one of the twelve categories, or a flight from the DR. do you have a recommendation of what is easier to do? Can I really get only the Cuban visa stamped without the passport stamp if I use either crossing from the DR or Cancun? Any help would be highly appreciated. Thank you so much! Hopefully Havana here I come!!! Lol

    1. Hi jessie! I am debating on taking a trip to Cuba from Cancun in May and was wondering if you got your question answered and if you will indeed be going to Cuba. Thanks!

  27. Hey man, great article. I’m thinking of going in December or January, but I’m living in Colombia so I’ll be flying directly to Havana from here (not the US). I know you mentioned ¨gateway cities.¨ Do you think I´ll have any unexpected issues if I simply want to go for ¨tourism¨and not for one of the 11 ¨legal reasons?¨ It sounds like when you flew from Mexico you simply had to buy your visa before you boarded your flight and that was about it. Is that pretty much how it was?

  28. Hi, Matthew,
    My husband and I have tickets to Cuba in January 2018. He is Dutch and I am American, we live in the Netherlands. Our tickets are from Amsterdam to Mexico to Havana. I am concerned over the new travel restrictions. Our travel trip is for 6 days. I’m not sure what category we would fit into. I do have a small travel blog and was going to explore and write about it. Also not sure how to apply for the tourist visa, so many websites out there. Any support would be appreciated. Thank you

  29. Hi – this blog has been extremely helpful. Does anyone know if/when the actual sanctions will go into effect? My boyfriend and I purchased tickets recently (after the July changes were announced) to go to Cuba in October (we are students so were planning to go under educational purposes). Should we be thinking about canceling our plans?

  30. This was great! I want to go to Cuba in March. I’m currently living in Chile and applying for permanent residency, and from my understanding, I can use my Chilean foreigner ID card when traveling in Chile and when returning to Chile from abroad (skip all those crazy immigration lines), but I still need to have a US passport to travel internationally. Will I have problems traveling to Cuba from here on a US passport if I’m not passing through the US?

  31. I am looking into traveling to cuba this winter. Will the american authorities have a problem with my going to cuba using an american airline or does anyone recommend flying out of mexico.

  32. I want to take my fiancee there for his birthday I think this would be the most special thing to do I am adventuress sounds nearly impossible so we are going

  33. How much money as a whole would I need including lodging, round trip air flight, food, souvenirs, taxi rides, an occasional tour and 2 night out for 7 days how much do you estimate? Hint…I’ve visited Brazil for a week and came back with money.

    1. Hi Frieda, unfortunately that’s impossible to answer. Everyone travels differently. There are way too many factors involved. Some budget backpacker types could probably get by on $50 a day, others would need $100 a day. Not including flights/souvenirs.

  34. Hi I and my girlfriend work in the US on the J1 visa. Her family would like to see usa in September and we would like to cube it. Are we from Europe so think that the problem would be flying from the USA to Cuba like a family? Or better is flight from Canada or Mexico ?

    1. If at all possible. Avoid all US interaction for traveling to countries that the US has a bitter and ongoing dispute. So Mex is your closet option. Try to put a few days into Mex if that is feasible for you. Enjoy.

  35. I want to go to Havana and have heard about direct flight by delta so do I need some kind of visa before or after since I am not going through Cancun .
    What hotels do you suggest And is Melia resort any good?

    1. I do not recommend Melia. I’ve been to the one in Nassau. It was just a recycled and very worn Sheraton hotel. Food = not good. Drinks = the cheapest booze that they could by by the truckload.

  36. Hello,
    thanks for the very imformative post! I’m thinking of contacting a researcher in specializing in mental health at a University in Cuba to fulfill the people-to-people requirement. I plan on going in March and buying the ticket this week but now I’m worried if Trump’s new rules will affect my flight. Is it still worth trying to travel to Cuba or will it be too risky??

  37. Great website with well needed information. Well done and easy to understand….thanks! LOVE IT….Found it very informative as i am going back there next week….been around 10 years since last there so with all the changes, your information helped alot….Thanks again!

    Faye

  38. Very informative, thank you!!! My husband and I have always wanted to go to Cuba. It sounds like adventure travel, which I am still up for at age 60. However, my husband, who has traveled the world, is 73. He’s dying to go to Cuba, but I’m not sure he’d be up for the uncertainty. Anyway, thanks so much for all this info.

  39. Loved the post. I have been traveling to Cuba for the last five years. I’ve led people-to-people tours for legal travel to Cuba, which has provided me the knowledge & stories to write a book. As you mentioned, I was saddened by the recent changes in June 2017 primarily because it will impact independent U.S. travelers and Cuban casa particular/paladar owners.

    1. hi, I’m planning on going to Cuba in March with a people-to-people travel (meeting with researchers). Do you know if Trump’s rule will make it too risky to try to travel to Cuba?

      Thanks in advance! :)

  40. Hi I am a New Zealand citizen (NZ Passport) and I am in vacation in usa under ESTA visa free regulation.
    I plan to spend 2-3 days in Cuba . Alaska air running flights from LAX to Cuba.
    Is legal from USA authorities’ are to permitted to leave from USA and returning to USA ? or possibly problems?

  41. I found the information you provided regarding travel to Cuba very helpful and interesting. I was thinking of traveling to Cuba from San Jose , Costa Rica. I am a US citizen and my mother is Costa Rican. Is the process the same? How do I get information?Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

  42. We are going on a cruise ship to Cuba from Miami in December. Will we be allowed to “wander off” to go to shops or restaurants on our own? The cruise company says yes, as long as we document what we do and save our record for 5 years in case of a government audit. But elsewhere I raid that “cruisers likely won’t be able to wander off … independently..
    Please respond ASAP! If we’re not going, I can still cancel very expensive insurance, but only for a few more days.

  43. Being under Obama’s travel rules until later in the summer/fall, am I still able to book person to person travel for later dates?
    Would the person to person travel be honored for March (example) since the travel was booked before Trump travel rules took over?

  44. Hi Matthew, I am going to Cuba from Cancun and bought a returning flight from southwest airlines from Cuba to Ft. Lauderdale. I am going with 3 other family members In Mid August. Besides having to purchase our visas At the Cancun airport, is there something else I need to cover? I am nervous about returning back to the U.S. directly from Cuba. Also, I am flying with Interjet Airlines from Cancun and just spoke with a representative , I asked if they cover health insurance in Cuba since some airlines do, but they told me I can purchase the insurance at the airport. Is this recommended/really necessary? ( i read you are required to have health insurance while in Cuba?)

  45. I’m suffering from chronic migraines. I’m a US Citizen. I just want to go to see a Doctor in Cuba. Please help me

  46. Hi, my name is Edith, and I have a daughter that would love to visit Cuba. But I’m still confused on how to go about it . I was able to find acomodation true Homestay, my problem right now is how to get there from Virginia-USA

  47. Were Americans able to visit Cuba waaaaay before Obama improved relations? And will I still be able to go now with the new administration?

    1. Yes Americans could still travel to Cuba before Obama, but they had to do it through a foreign “gateway” city like Cancun or Toronto. So you flew there first, then on to Cuba. And Cuba wouldn’t stamp your passport, so there was no paper trail that you visited. It wasn’t exactly legal, but thousands of people did it every year anyway.

  48. So if i travel from texas to mexico to cuba, am i still allowed to bring 400 dollars worth of items and 100 dollars in cuban cigars back across the border of america?

    1. Until the Trump administration promulgates its new, more restrictive regulations, there is no need to travel via Mexico – just fly directly to Cuba. Additionally, at least at the moment, items from Cuba are, like most countries, subject to a personal use duty-exemption up to $800. Alcohol and tobacco are included within this amount and cigars are also subject to an independent limit of 100 cigars. So you can bring in 100 $8 cigars duty-free, but if you bring in 100 $30 cigars, you will have to pay duty on $2200 in value.

  49. Hi There, I am planning to go in Novemeber to Havana from Chicago. I chose the People to People option. Hopefully, I can take some cooking classes to “justify” my trip. My question is the following, will i need “proof” or my purpose?

    1. We just returned from Cuba, having traveled on our own. At the initial customs screening, they didn’t ask a single question other than those on the declarations form. When we went through secondary screening (I believe because we declared that we had been on a farm and in contact with livestock, in the form of horses, and not merely because we had been to Cuba), it just involved a high-resolution x-ray scanning of the bags and the questions of what contact we had had with livestock. They also asked whether we were visiting family or tourism, etc…. Person-to-person exchange was our answer and there was no follow-up. Keep an eye out for the Trump administration’s new regulations as they get rolled out, but my guess is that it will be after November before those regulations are finalized.

    2. You shouldn’t need proof, but if you can take a few photos of your cooking class, (which I assume you will anyway) that would be a good idea. But with Trump’s new rules coming out this summer, everything we know could change suddenly.

  50. Thank you for all this info! Could you suggest any single day tour operators/locals that could involve educational snorkeling or any way to delve into that beautiful water? To be able to surf there would be even more amazing. My family will be there from 9am-7pm on June 19th, arriving by cruise. We will have grandparents and babies in the group. Grandpa will not be able to walk extensively and the kids (2, 6yo) will not be able to have attention span for 10 hours of museums. Appreciate any advice, suggestions, or contact info:)

  51. This site is very helpful.
    Going to Cuba overnight on cruise. I understand I can convert dollars to Canadian in US and use Canadian money in Cuba without converting it to Cuban money. Is that true?

  52. hi,

    Soon from LAX I am traveling to cancun, then with american airlines to Medelin/colombia in july and from medellin with Avianca airline going to Havana/Cuba.

    Is there any mandatory yellow fever vaccination check from airline or havana customs? I am worried if either airline or cuba cusom check and If I dont have, they may not let me in? is anybody has any experienec? or traveling recently to cuba specially from colombia?

    Thanks,

    Mitra

  53. Hi thank you for that info. I am traveling to Cuba with 6 other girls at the end of June. We are thinking about transferring our American $ here to Canadian $. Prior to the trip. What do you think? Plus I’m kind of hesitant to carry that much cash. Is there anyway I can get a card to carry there? We are traveling from Havana to Trinidad and a couple places in between. Smaller beach like playa giron. Maybe cinfuegos too. I think we may all order that water bottle suggested too!

    1. It’s definitely better to exchange to euros or Canadian dollars as long as you get a good excavate. About carrying a ton of cash, you have to do it. As a woman, you can wear a padded sports bra or padded bralette and hide the money in area where pad is. I pulled the pad out and slipped the money in. If you exchange for large bills it’s not that much money stashed away.

    2. I would absolutely bring a bunch of cash, but if you’d like to mix it up a bit, try looking into getting a Canadian or Mexican pre-paid debit card. I have no experience with this, so do your own research, but I’ve heard that’s an option too.

  54. Hello my wife and I would like to travel to Cuba for the vaccine . Will I be able to get that by walking in to a clinic or will I need their medical insurance?

  55. Hello, Looking to travel to Cuba from Tampa Fl this 4th of July weekend. I am traveling with a wheelchair bound friend ..Is it easy to get him around Havana and the beaches? Also we do not speak Spanish. Is that going to be an issue?

    1. Cuba isn’t exactly wheelchair friendly. Buildings in Havana are crumbling, putting in ramps is the least of their problems. You should still be able to visit, but it’s not going to be “easy”. Especially with no Spanish. Cuba is not an easy travel destination.

  56. Hi Mr Karsten!,

    Please feedback us about these Havana questions, if possible=

    – As some cruises overnight Havana, it is secure to come back to the cruise very late in the night ??. Is the port open 24 hours for those visitors that are coming back to the cruiseship late, or very late, in the night, even walking ??

    – Havana bus tours offered to cruise visitors, in contract with the Cruise Lines, offer spanish tour explanations ?? Even using earphones or any other device or spanish speakers. We have heard that cruises from USA to Havana that include Havana Bus Tours do not offer that, but we need to be sure.

    Thanks, many many thanks for your kindly support !!

    Hasta muy, muy pronto amigos !!

  57. Very informative!!! My husband and I are interested in traveling to Cuba inarch 2018 for our anniversary. Going to Cancun for a few days and then heading to Cuba sounds like a plan we would love as we are planning to take 2 weeks. Could you help me with figuring out what steps we should take. I would love some help so we can do this. Thank you!!!!

  58. Hi I’m planning a group trip to Cuba. I don’t want to pay $4000+ per person as advertised by most sights. I’ve traveled to Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica and Aruba without travel guides and on a great budget. I’m full of adventure. I’d want a travel guide for some tours, but we also want to spend time just relaxing on the beach. It seems that all the tours are expensive and require all day, everyday which would not work well for me physically. Do you have information on tours that can be scheduled there or prior. I want the 5 star tour experience on a 3 star budget.

    1. Tours are not really needed. Hire a friendly taxi driver for the day, and tell him what you want to do. City tour? Head to the beach? Anything. Might cost you $100-$150 a day. Nothing better than a local tour guide like that.

      If you want a 5 star tour, you’ll need to pay for it.

  59. Hey Matthew,
    Thanks for such a great and informative blog. Me and some of my classmates are undergrad students and wanted to travel to Cuba for journalistic purposes.

    That being said we are on a budget and I noticed many of the things you mentioned were kind of figure out once you’re there kind of thing. For instance the local Casas Particulares and travel via bus and such.

    Is there any website or way we can plan out our trip I’m advance ? Anyway we can reserve a place to stay and buy transportation tickets before getting there ? Also are we absolutely stuck to the CUC or can we use local currency ?

    Thanks in advance !

    1. Unfortunately no. You can’t even book bus tickets online (but they do have a website for checking times). Welcome to Cuba! It’s a very poor, undeveloped country, with crappy infrastructure. It’s not an easy place to travel, and not for everyone.

      If you buy stuff at little corner shops in CUC, they often give you change back in CUP (because these are used by locals). But at the currency exchange places, hotels, bus stations, and any other “tourist” spot, you’ll only get CUC.

  60. We are anxious to know if there is a way to travel to Cuba without going with a tour group and still fulfill their requirements.

  61. It’d be useful if those who traveled in the last 3 months or so come back and tell us how it went for them.

  62. Hello Matthew, after reading your blog, I feel less worried about going to Cuba. I feel it will be better to travel on any of the airlines from outside the USA. My concern is I’ve heard we have surrender our passport? I’m also concerned with carrying all my personal documents and currency on my person. Any advice?

    Thanks for your help.
    Karal

  63. Can USD be used with vendors and tour companies without exchanging to CUC? I saw the 10% penalty mentioned to exchange USD to CUC. I also saw comments of people saying, locals like USD and EURO better than other currencies. Should I just not bother exchanging the USD for CUC since its 1:1 anyway, and will everyone accept the USD?

    1. How safe is it to travel to Havana via cruise ship? Is it safe for two women tovisit Plaza de Amar alone during the day?

  64. Hi Matt,

    I know a lot of people have probably asked you this question already…
    I am looking to travel to Cuba with a group of 16. Some of the kids in the group are learning Spanish and we want them to taste as many spanish cultures as possible. Would that work for one of the 12 reasons to enter the country? Truthfully we really don’t have any other reason besides travel. Could you recommend any resorts or excursions to do while we are there?

  65. I was in Cuba in April 2017 and tried to get money from US and found it impossible using Western Union. They said it could only be sent to a Cuban citizen by a close relative.

    1. Could you share more details abt your trip? Did you fly from Miami? Any issues with the Visa? which option did you pick? Cheers

  66. Hi Matt, I’m sure you’ve been asked this question many times before, so pardon me for asking it again. My name is Myron and I am writing on behave of a friend. There are twelve requirements for an American traveling to Cuba to meet. My friend does not fall into any of these categories; after reading your comments, there seems to be a grey area and it’s a bit confusing too. From your experience, please clarify as best you can, what happens at the gate before boarding the aircraft if you do not meet one of the 12?

    Your reply is sincerely appreciated. My friend’s name is Krasimir, and I will include his email, so that you may correspond directly with him.

    Thank you.

    1. Just get a filter Loris. Shipping your own water sounds ridiculous. It’s the same kind of filter used to filter the bottled water you buy…

      In Havana you can find bottled water pretty easy (just check that it hasn’t been opened). It’s when you get out of the city that it becomes a bit more difficult.

  67. hi….. please help- I’m hoping to travel from miami to cuba in January can you please tell me what airport to fly into and can i fly back to califronia from cuba?
    gracias

  68. Can anyone tell me about airline travel within Cuba. I understand that it all originates and returns to Havana. How/when would we make reservations? I have heard you have to do it months in advance and I have also heard you have to do it once you are in the country. Thanks!

  69. I just returned from my first trip to Cuba. Everything you detailed is exactly how it was in Cuba so I had no surprises. The prices of the casas were a little higher but still very reasonable. The inability to use American credit cards and debit cards were the most difficult part of the trip because I wasn’t used to carrying so much cash. The wi-fi wasn’t too bad, I went daily to Hotel Nacional and used the wi-fi cards. This will be my first trip of many, your advice helped me tremendously!!! Thanks

    1. I am planning my first trip to cuba i am a u.s citizen is it true all i need is to buy a visa at the mexican airport and i wont have any problems? also i was thinking havana cienfuegos trinidad and varadero? to much?

    2. Hi Cathy,

      Can you tell me how you flew there? Was it as easy as just booking a flight from any US airport that flies to Cuba? I really want to go there but I need more information on how the booking process works.

      Thank you!

  70. Did you have to fly back into Cancun then to your home state after leaving Cuba or could you fly directly out of Cuba to the U.S?

  71. Hi there,

    I am very glad you created this review and that so many people shared their experience here. While reading all the comments below I was a little bit afraid of going for tourism purposes against US law. So let me explain my visa case.
    I am from Poland (Europe) and I was in US for 1 week. I had booked a Frontier flight MIA-HAV with Education/People-people purpose. I ordered visa via Frontier suggested Cuba-visa service. I had ordered it on Thuesday and on Thursday afternoon the visa was in my hotel in LasVegas (regular delivery).
    At the airport Frontier staff checked only if I have a visa and asked for the accommodation in Cuba (I could write anything).
    At the Cuba emigration office they only checked visa again and that’s all. I saw that other passengers didn’t spend more that a minute at the emigration desk as well.
    All this US restrictions are on paper only. No one is checking them at all.
    I didn’t try to use non-US visa (green paper one available in Europe) as Poland and US Cuban embassy told me that I need to have a US version only (pink paper one).

    Spanish or English???
    I speak Spanish a little bit and English quite well. My observation is that Cubans who wants your money speaks English very well. They are working in tourist business and they know that English will help them much. But if you want to feel ‘real’ Cuba, meet with local people by yourself (not organised by tourist agency) then English is not an option. Most of such time you need Spanish. However you can pay to English spoken local guide and he/she will show you ‘real’ Cuba as well.
    Tourist places = English is enough. Elsewhere = Spanish is needed. Tourist guide = English.

    Have a great time in Cuba!!!
    Best,
    Kamil

  72. Hello Matthew,

    I have just been reading your blog and have found it so useful!! So happy I came across it.
    I was hoping maybe I could shed some light on our personal situation and get your thoughts please.
    My friend and I are currently back packing Central America we are from Australia and Switzerland. We have booked a flight from Cancun to Cuba and going to spend 10 days travelling around. We will be getting the tourist card from the airline check in desk.
    Next stop for us is New York and we have found a flight from Havana to New York with jet blue reasonably priced but when we proceeded to book the flight we have to pick one of the 12 categories for the “license” even tho we are just exiting Cuba and entering the states.
    We don’t fall under any of the categories as visit is only tourism.
    The airline is telling us to just pick one closest to our travel plans.
    Does this mean it won’t get followed up if we just pick any?
    I mean we could pick the category supporting the Cuban people as we are doing tours and going to be staying in casa, technically we are supporting the Cubans with our money?
    What would you recommend for us to do?
    We both have a flight out of New York booked as well.
    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts

    Many thanks
    From Ellie

  73. Good Basic Info.
    I am going by ship in october to Havana. How difficult is it to go to the Tropicana Club on your own. Reservation, transportation,safety.
    Any comment will help
    thank you

    1. Tropicana nightclub: Cost is government controlled and prices start at 75 cuc. You can take taxi from the ship which should cost you approx 15cuc each way (negotiate with driver and see if driver will wait for you AND PAY ROUNDTRIP AT END. Customary to tip few cuc at Tropicana and to driver. There should always be possibility of a few spaces each night to book at the door but it is advisable to book in advance. If the cruise ship price is approx 90cuc I would suggest you book thru the ship: At least u know you have transport and seats arranged. Alternatively you can go to less pricey shows in smaller venues eg. in hotel nacional or in old Havana . The Tropicana is a spectacular show: Take your minds back to the 40s 50s 60s when Havana was the in-place to visit and even to live! Enjoy

  74. Hello, I am planning on traveling to Cuba in mid May 2017 (LAX to HAV) with family. We are extremely well traveled, yet I find myself very perplexed about the general travel VISA (people to people). I can easily book flights, accommodations (Airbnb), as well as obtaining a travel VISA. I have printed out the affidavit. Do you have any suggestions or how to ensure qualification for people to people without going through and expensive travel agency?

  75. I do not speak much Spanish but have traveled solo to almost all central America without too much trouble, do many people speak English? I am a nature lover and like to stay in small guesthouses.

  76. Hi Matthew, Thank you for actually sharing this valuable information. I travel a lot and alone. Always, wanted to go to Cuba, especially cause I am a dancer( salsa) Anyway. I buy my tickets from the delta airlines, but I keep asking them about Visa, its seems like they have no clue. Are you saying I should buy it from them? and online? Where exactly? and how far in advance, if I am traveling in June/2017. Also, how is the weather there? and its seems like its expensive over there. I thought it was cheap. Am I wrong? I kinda got discouraged or I shouldn’t be. I really wanted to go for my bday. Also, where do I get this water bottle? again thank you so much for all this info, you rock.

      1. Hi Emma and Robert,
        could you find out how does this Visa People to people works? And could you actually understand waht of the 12 reason we should pick if we’re just going for tourism?
        Thanks!

  77. Great read. I have been drawn to this country for many years and have so badly wanted to go. Mostly to step back in time. I found the information you provided very helpful and encouraging.

  78. We are planning on visiting Havana for our honeymoon, but we are traveling JFK to St. Kitts, then to Anguilla, and finally to Havana, before returning to New York. Would the “visa at the airport” option work if we are going to St. Kitts and Anguilla first, or would we need to travel New York to Havana first, and then to the Caribbean Islands?

  79. Thanks for the articles and info on Cuba. My daughter and I are wanting to go to Cuba with our motorcycles this summer to tour. Is this possible to do?

  80. So I have a question…as an American Soldier, is it ok to travel to Cuba? I have wanted to go to Cuba for a long time. I love everything about the culture and Music as a latino. I have always wished they would lift that embargo but I would love to go there today. :(

  81. Super helpful, thanks! I’m traveling alone JFK-Havana for 10 days in July. I picked “person to person” when buying flight through Delta but I don’t have anything specific scheduled with a group or event — I hope it’s ok!?

    I’m overwhelmed by the options of what to do when I’m there. Other than Havana (where I’ll be a few days in an Airbnb), I’m wondering if you could offer suggestions for non-touristy places to explore snorkeling/scuba, lush jungle/mountain hiking (waterfalls!) and beautiful beaches — within reasonable bus ride from Havana. Thank you!

    1. Tracy, I would like to travel there at the end of July. Can you tell me what exactly was the process you did in order to make it possible?
      thanks,

    2. My friends and I just got back after 8 days in Cuba, a few in Havanna and a few in Caleton in the Playa Larga region (Pennisula Zapata) and loved it for horseback riding, eco tourism like birding, crocodile viewing, snorkeling and caving. You have to have a guide in many of these areas but it was worth it and the group was small. It didn’t feel like a commercial experience.

  82. Hi there, thanks for this blog post. I have a bit of a random question. I am a US citizen living in Colombia. I am planning to travel to Cuba in June for Educational (people to people) purposes, but will be flying in to Havana from Bogota. I know I will have no problems getting into Cuba. My question comes at the end of my time in Cuba. I am hoping to travel directly into the United States from Havana. I am wondering how to go about getting the correct visa if my initial flight is not a US based airline. I assume I will have a tourist visa into Cuba from Colombia, but am worried about the process of getting back into the US. Thanks so much for any insight you can give me.

  83. Ok, I think I’ve read everything and this is a new question.
    I’m going to Cuba in 10 days. Italian passport, traveling FROM Cuba to the US and back to Cuba (relatives visit in NY)

    For what I understand, I can go to the US without any problem (just filling the ESTA aplicattion form), but I have to choose 1 of the 12 reasons to board the plane from NY to Cuba, and that’s it…

    Is that right?

    Thanks!

    1. If you are Italian, you do not need to fit one of those 12 categories for visiting Cuba. That is for US citizens, not for people who are also visiting the US.

  84. We are traveling as US citizens to Cuba and are doing a group People to People organized tour with an agency. We would like to extend our trip by 4 days just the two of us to enjoy some beach and snorkeling, and the agency offers reservations at an all-inclusive resort post group trip, with the caveat that we still need to be engaged in people to people activities. We have been told that activities such as music, school donations, watching sports, sharing a meal or drink with locals are acceptable. Is this risky or reasonable to add these 4 extra days on? If not, what are the possible penalties, and from the US or Cuba? Thanks for any guidance.

    1. You’ll be fine Linda. No one is enforcing these rules at the moment. It’s kinda like jaywalking. Technically it’s illegal, in reality no one is going to give you a ticket for it.

  85. Hi, I am from Poland. This summer I travel with my family to Miami and we would like to take plane to Havana. Does U.S. restrictions about traveling to Cuba concern also foreigner? Where can I check this to be sure. I wrote to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) but it seems they do not deal with this kind of problems.

    1. Hi Krzysztof,

      I’m from Germany. https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/31/515.560 regulates “Travel-related transactions to, from, and within Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction.”
      “Subject to U.S. jurisdiction” does mean something like “no matter where you come from, as long as you have your feet on our ground this rule is also for you”

    2. Hey Krzysztof!
      I am from Slovakia and have the same issue as you! Do you know some new information about that? Thank you so much for every reaction! Have a great day!

  86. Hi!
    My girlfriend and me are from Germany,. We are going to marry each other in Miami and already booked flights to Cuba for our honeymoon.
    Now we are afraid to get any trouble any time we want to visit the US in the future.
    What is your opinion? Cancel the direct flight to Cuba and go via Mexico? Or will there be no risk for us? It would be horrible to stand at the customs for a trip to NYC e.g. and to be told to immidiately leave back to Germany.
    Best Regards,
    M.J.

  87. Would it work if I bought the Cuban Tourist card (visa) by mail from say Delta (by mail) for $50 and used it for the American flight (they charge $100)?

    1. Hi Brian,
      Did you buy your tickets from Delta? and your Visa from Delta as well? and how did you do it? Cause I keep asking them and it seems like they have no clue. Thank you! :)

  88. I have a simple question. Where can I apply for a visa. I will on a cruise and they want $75.00 per person for a visa. I would rather do this myself. Thanks

    1. Had the same thought having been told by cruise hostess same information. Say, are you by any chance from Farmington, Missouri?

  89. Hi!! Thank u so much for sharing your information, it really helped me understand planning Cuba trip.
    I was wondering if I can travel Cuba for 3 days.
    I also read some comments that they took cooking or salsa classes and the receipt they got will be a proof of people to people visit when going through immigration.
    Can I book those classes thru online and where do I send the receipts for the immigration proof??

    1. we booked our cooking directly with Ajiaco Café and it was awesome. It was $50 including mojitos and lunch and very educational. You can google and email them to reserve