The Republic of Cuba is an island nation and the largest island in the Caribbean. The form of government is a socialist republic, which organized their territory into fifteen provinces. Havana is the capital and most populous city offering some interesting colonial architecture.
Cuba is famous for its cigars, rum, the wonderful latin rythms and dances like salsa. Cuba invites you to enjoy its beautiful beaches, culture and colonial history. The average temperature throughout the year is 24,6º C (76,3º F) (Average summer: 25º C (77º F); Average winter: 22º C (71,6º F)).
Cuba is surrounded by a multitude of small islands, well-preserved and protected ecosystems can be still found here. Specifically, the National Park Jardines de la Reina in English called "Gardens of the Queen" offers pristine coral reefs, sponges and a wide variety of fish and sharks which are difficult to find in many parts of the Caribbean. Due to the distance to the mainland the archipelago is only reachable by diving liveaboard cruises.
Cuba's nature is diverse and prosperous, the visitor will find a wide variety of plants, animals, virgin islands, caves, mountains, forests, savannas and marshes and more than 280 beaches. All this makes Cuba into a great travel destination.
Cuba is located at the entrance of the Gulf of Mexico in the Caribbean, between 20 and 23 degrees north latitude and 74 and 85 degrees west latitude. The average visibility underwater is 30 to 40 m / 100-133 feets and water temperatures range between 26 and 29° C / 78-85° F. Throughout the year divers can enjoy warm, clear and calm diving conditions, although the hurricane season from June to November can sometimes lead to a few days of diving interruption. Cuba has hundreds of small islands, many unexplored dive sites, pristine reefs and mangroves.
The best diving is found in the middle section of the south coast around the beach Giron to Manzanillo; some of the Carribean top diving spots like the Isla de Juventud (Island of the Young) and Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen), the diving jewels of Cuba, are located here and they can certainly compete with some of the worlds best diving spots.
Getting to Cuba is only possible by aircraft. Most flights arrive at José Marti Airport in Havana, located 18 km from the Cuban capital. There is also a smaller airport in the city of Santiago de Cuba.
Major airlines offer flights to this island: from Spain with Air Europa, Iberia, Air Comet and from Paris Air France. The Cuban airline Cubana de Aviacion has the least expensive flights from Madrid to Cuba with a stopover in Santiago de Cuba.
In Cuba there are two types of currencies: one for the locals, the Cuban peso, and the one which is used by tourists, the pesos convertibles. It is not forbidden for tourists to use Cuban pesos, in some cases it's even better to have some Cuban pesos available, as you can save money due to it being the weaker currency.
Banks and exchange offices (casas de cambio, CADECA) are licensed for the exchange of pesos convertibles and have the best exchange rates. The exchange rate of 1 peso convertible is 87 USD cents which is only true for converting US-Dollars to pesos convertibles. The best exchange rates can be expected from Euros and Canadian Dollars, the next best from British Pound, Swiss Francs and Japanese Yen. We advise against exchanging money at hotels or other locations as the exchange rates are not government ruled and are worse than the official exchange rates.
In some places - Varadero, Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Playa Santa Lucia, Playa Covarrubias an the tourist destinations of the northern coast of Holguin - even accept Euros as currency.
The cuban currencies can only be exchanged in Cuba. If you should leave Cuba with some Pesos you can either save them as souvenirs, for your next trip or give them to someone planning to go to Cuba soon.
MasterCard, Visa International, Thomas Cook, American Express and CABAL Traveler credit cards are accepted in Cuba as long as they are not issued by US banks or their subsidiaries. A supplement of 11.24% per payment will be charged however.
A few ATMs are available to withdraw pesos convertibles, they levy a surcharge of 11.24%.
For your travel to Cuba you need a valid passport with at least six months of vality. Also 2 free, unstamped passport pages are required. When entering Cuba you will have to present a roundrip ticket as well as an actual adress of accomodation (hotel or private residence) to the border authorities.
The tourist card can be requested at the Cuban consular representations, travel agencies and airlines.
It is imperative to present health insurance policy when entering Cuba. There are many companies that offer insurance at an affordable price. If you arrive without insurance you will be asked to buy a state insurance of Asistur.
The hotel industry is still underdeveloped and currently overpriced, we recommend booking private accommodations through Airbnb.