Checking out Cuba is a highlight-packed sensory overload, particularly if you make the effort to understand the past political strife that has shaped a nation that stands on the cusp of a social and financial revolution.
That consists of an enhancing number of accommodation options opening even Airbnb has arrived, and a clued-in host can provide you a fantastic head-start with some key tips to obtain the most out of your stay.
Here are our leading suggestions for getting the most out of your Cuba vacation.
Prior to you go:
The first thing Australians require is a traveler visa, which is a basic affair as long as you allow time. The Australian Government's Smart Traveler site advises visitors to Cuba to print out their travel insurance cover note Cuba's immigration officers might ask to see it. Australia Post sells a worldwide SIM card, or you can rent a local SIM when you show up at Havana airport.
Next, you need to arrange finance. Many charge cards particularly those released by banks with American links won't work in Cuba and ATM access should not be presumed, either. Consult your bank to see what might work for you. If all else fails there's cash, which obviously isn't really as safe to carry in big amounts but is hugely practical on the street. However, Australian dollars will not be accepted for exchange as soon as in Cuba and United States dollars will draw in an extra 10 per cent charge. The best bet is to get hold of some Euros prior to leaving Australia, and then alter then into the local currency at Havana airport when you arrive. There's a trick here, too. Cuba has two currencies one for the residents, and one for travelers, with a 25:1 currency exchange rate between the two (so don't get them mixed up). Ensure you are provided the traveler peso, which is understood locally as the CUC (pronounced 'cook'). Likewise, ensure you transform remaining currency back to Euros prior to you leave the country. It's prohibited to get rid of CUC from Cuba, as well as highly unlikely throughout Australia will exchange them for you.
Hablo a little Espanola
Cubans have actually had little access to the outside world for the previous 50 years and outside the main traveler areas, Spanish is virtually exclusively spoken. If your Spanish is non-existent, get hold of a phrase book and practice a couple of vital expressions on the long flight over. Being able to hail a taxi and negotiate the location and fare are important to obtaining around, and having the ability to buy food and drink is handy. If all else fails, "lo siento, hablo no Espanol" at least states you're sorry you do not comprehend what somebody is saying to you.
Do your homework
Cuba has an interesting history of instability and revolution, and if you're staying in an Airbnb property you can gain much more understanding from your host if you can converse knowledgably about the factors that have actually led to the austere life they live today.
If you do enter discussions with a local, take the opportunity to discover their life and experiences under the stringent socialist program. Interaction and immersion with the friendly and happy residents will include a much deeper layer to your stay.
Get some defense
Like many South American and Caribbean locations, Cuba has a mosquito problem. Zika virus has been included prominently in the news; however that's just a huge issue if you're pregnant or planning to be; for everybody else, a dosage of zika is a mild hassle. Of greater concern, my Airbnb host Gustavo cautions, is the danger of dengue fever, which can be crippling. To be safe, source an insect repellent with a high percentage of DEET (otherwise known as diethyl-meta-toluamide) slathering it on a number of times daily is the most effective way to ward off the nastiest. You'll likewise require a good 50+ sunscreen for Cuba's effective sun, which you should apply prior to the insect repellent so it's better taken in into your skin.
When you get there:
Fulfill the locals
Cubans are, by and big, exceptionally outgoing individuals, and as long as you stick to well-trafficked and well-lit areas and stick to reasonable safety measures to protect your possessions, you should not have any safety issues.
Often the pitch is obvious they desire you to accompany them to a bar, caf, museum or bar, where they'll get a spotter's charge. Others may provide to be your guide and happily chat with you for hours in disarmingly friendly fashion but at the end, there's constantly an outstretched hand.
Approach these interactions anticipating to spend for a piece of their time and local knowledge, which is sometimes well worth it. If you're on a tight budget plan, be up front that you have no money to offer. Despite the fact that you didn't ask to be confronted, a rejection to spend after assistance has been rendered might trigger fight.
Take a taxi
You may believe the huge, curvy American automobiles for which Havana is well-known are a myth, and finding one is like locating a white whale. Not so. They're actually all over, and you actually have not done Havana up until you've flagged one down, traded a fare with the motorist (understanding a little Spanish helps a lot), and set down high on a bench seat with your elbow protruding from the always-open windows. Even much better is that you'll probably be seated next to some residents avoiding to work, with Cuba's taxis running more like a bus service that gets and sets down different fares during any given journey.
Hit the museums
Havana has some fantastic museums, including the artwork of abundantly talented residents, plus a variety of organizations dedicated to detailing the nation's history of political instability, bloodshed and happy defiance.
The Museo de la Revolution in the Old Havana part of town is a vital stop behind the sensational fa ade are hundreds of artifacts, photos, weapons and blow-by-blow descriptions of occasions including the overthrow of the dictator Batista, the Bay of Pigs intrusion and the Cuban missile crisis. And, obviously, much reflection on the reign of Fidel Castro. Maybe most poignant of all are the bullet holes in the walls, a sobering tip that this beautiful city was once, as the museum name recommends, the site of bloody revolution.
Make time, too, for the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, that includes a thorough screen of both classical and modern artwork throughout two structures and a number of levels and it's air-conditioned.
There are an excellent many others, but discover the time to get throughout the harbor taxis will take you through the short tunnel to the Castillo de la Real Fuerza. Said to be the oldest stone fort in the Americas, it's likewise house to an excellent museum highlighting the nations pleased maritime past.
Walk the Malecon
At our Airbnb host's suggestion, a strong along Havana's seaside boulevard, the Malecon, at sunset was the perfect method to round off a hectic day. The eight kilometer-long sea wall comes alive as the heat of the day paves the way to a sea breeze, with the locals gathering to fish, exercise and simply hang out. It's a fantastic spot to delight in the passing parade of classic American automobiles, too.
Get out of the city
Cuba is much more than just Havana, although you can easily invest a week roaming the old town, poking around Vedado, and taking in the neighboring coastal settlements. If you're eager to see it all, consider side trips to Trinidad a UNESCO world heritage website with gorgeous architecture and mind-blowing beaches or Santiago de Cuba, at the opposite end of the island. The latter has history in spades and provides a more authentic Cuban experience than tourist-focused Havana. Closer to Havana, you can take a 20-minute taxi ride to out to Cojimar, the setting for the Ernest Hemingway novel The Old Man and the Sea and the place where Hemingway kept his own boat.