Are you ready for a trip to Varadero, Cuba? Is this your first time to Cuba? If so, you must be wondering what you should DO and NOT DO when in Cuba since Cuba is a Communist country. Find out about Varadero, Cuba: Tips on What to DO and NOT DO!
Tips on What to DO and NOT DO in Varadero, Cuba:
1. Do I need a VISA?
- First question that I have for my visit to Cuba is: “Do I need a VISA?‘ I am sure everyone has the same question. The Answer is: Yes, Canadian Citizens traveling on a Canadian Passport need a Visa (called Tourist Card) to enter Cuba for tourism purposes for a period not exceeding 30 days. Check out Government of Canada for more details.
2. What Currency is used in Cuba?
- Cuba has Two Currencies: Cuban Currency for Tourists/Foreigners called “The Cuban Convertible Currency” / CUC. The Exchange Rate is approximately $1USD = 1 CUC.
- Local Currency or Cuban Peso is only used by Locals in Cuba. 1 USD/1 CUC = 25 Cuban Pesos for locals. (CUP – Cuban Peso Nacional)
Cuba is a closed currency. Make sure to bring both Canadian Dollars or USD. You can only exchange money into the CUC at the Airport Currency Exchange Desk or at your Resort in Cuba. The exchange rate is set centrally by the Central Bank of Cuba. Make sure you get a receipt and check that you have been given the correct amount.
If you are a U.S. Citizen traveling to Cuba, there will be an extra 10% commission on your charge when you exchange from USD to the CUC.
We did our Currency Exchange at our Resort. We exchanged from Canadian Dollars to the CUC and vice versa. There is No extra charge if you are a Canadian Citizen. You DO NOT need your Passport to exchange money at the Resort. You WILL NEED your Passport to exchange your money at a Bank.
You can use US Dollar to tip in the resort in Veradero/Havana. However, our waiter at the resort told us that they prefer CUC instead of US Dollar. If you travel to the rest of the country (especially in the rural areas), it is best to tip in CUCs.
It is illegal to remove the CUC from Cuba as it is a closed currency.
My tip to you is: Use up all your CUC in tipping your favorite waiter/waitress on the last night or spend all your CUC at the airport before you board your flight.
Unless you have a lot of Cuban Currency remaining before you leave, you can exchange it back to Canadian Dollar or USD at the currency exchange before you leave Cuba. Canadian Banks won’t be able to exchange for you when you return home.
3. Can you use Credit Card in Cuba?
- Bring CASH with you when you visit Cuba (Canadian Dollars or USD). A lot of places DO NOT accept Credit Card! American bank credit cards will not be accepted.
- ATM machines are available at the airport. However, they are limited at the resort.
4. Where to Stay in Varadero, Cuba?
- We booked the All-Inclusive resort package at MELIÁ LAS ANTILLAS via Sunwing Airlines online.
Melia Las Antilles resort is clean, the Staff is very friendly and helpful. The Beach is amazing! It made a great place for beach volleyball!
5. DO NOT Drink Tap Water in Cuba!
- While it is common in North America to drink water from the tap, it is not recommended in most tropical countries including Cuba. It is NOT Safe to drink Tap Water in Cuba. Bottled water is commonly used and are offered complimentary at many Resorts. Melia Las Antillas provides 1 Liter of bottled water each day in the room.
- Brush your teeth and rinse with bottled water. DO NOT use tap water!
6. Bring a Bubba Keg Mug! Stay Hydrated!
- We went in a group of 6. Our Amigos are so kind and considerate! They gave each of us a 52 oz. Bubba Keg Mug to carry with us to Cuba. This comes in very handy. It is double-walled insulations. It can keep the water cold for a very long time. We used this bubba to fill the water at Pearson Airport so we can drink on the airplane and have some water to drink on the bus to the Resort.
- You can use the Bubba to fill with water at the resort restaurants before heading out to the Beach.
- Once we are done with the trip, we can leave behind the Bubba Mug for the staff at the resort. They really appreciate and enjoy it!
7. Does Internet work in Cuba?
- You have to buy the Internet Card at the resort and can ONLY be used in the lobby. The cost for 1 hour Internet Card is $1 CUC. The internet connection speed is very low.
- DO NOT buy Data Plan or use Roam at Home from Rogers in Cuba. It will NOT work. You will get a message that Cuba is not part of the Roam at Home Plan. Roaming cost may be very high too!
- It is BEST to disconnect from the World when you travel to Cuba and enjoy the SUN!
8. What to DO in the SUN:
- The sunshine in tropical destinations is much stronger than back in Canada. The sun is at its peak between 11am and 3pm. To avoid sunburn and dehydration, try to limit your exposure to the sun. Wear a hat and reapply sunscreen/sunblock frequently and after swimming.
- Bring Sunscreen/Sunblock from Canada. Prices are often much higher in Cuba.
9. Cuba Tips from our friend (Tiff):
- Brush and rinse your teeth with bottled water.
- Have your omelets and meat cooked well from the grill.
- Don’t drink any milk products.
- Do NOT eat at the sushi a la carte restaurant (Toronto Sushi is much better and worth waiting 7 days for).
- Bring American $1 bills for tips (if you like to make tips because they can’t convert Canadian or American coins).
- Pack a change of beach/summer clothes in your carry on.
- Bring bug spray for the night time.
- Carry packets of Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Salt and Pepper, Honey, Jam, Soy Sauce and Hot Sauce. I bring my own bottle of hot sauce and it adds so much flavor to the food! 🙂
10. Bring a Travel Adapter Plug/Voltage Converter
- Find Travel Adapters at Amazon.
- In the hotel room, there are a few outlets in the bedroom whereby you can plug your phone charger without an adapter or voltage converter.
- In the Bathroom, you will need a Voltage Converter! My friend almost got fried using a Waterpik in the bathroom. The electrical outlet sparks in fire. Thank goodness, he tested it out first before putting the Waterpik in his mouth.
11. Bring Stuff for the Locals in Cuba
- Dental Care Products like toothbrush, tooth paste, mouthwash, floss.
- Feminine hygiene products
- Vitamins – both adult and for kids
- Clothing (T-Shirt, Sweat-Shirt…)
- Reading glasses, sunglasses
- Toys for kids (crayons, colouring books, yo-yos, anything for kids)
- Flip flops/Crocs, dressed Shoes— bring down some shoes to leave behind for the locals.
- Bubba mugs! My friend bought everyone of us a Bubba mug for the trip. We really enjoy it as it keeps the water cold when we are at the beach and pool side. In addition, the night before we leave Cuba, we give the Bubba mugs to the Waiter and Waitress at the resort.
- Soap, shampoo, conditioner.
- Medication is very expensive in Cuba. I heard that Tylenol or any pain killer, Imodium and antihistamines (for allergies).
Check out my YouTube video on ‘My First Trip to Varadero, Cuba“!