Cuba is a beautiful place, and any one who is serious about tourism should visit it at least once. However, complicating matters is Cuba’s somewhat fragile relationship with many countries. The United States, in particular, has a strained relationship with Cuba. Changes in administration has since led to an improvement in the two countries’ relationship, but it is still technically illegal to travel to Cuba.
If you are from America and would still like to visit Cuba without getting yourself into trouble, here are a few tips:
The U.S. Embassy Grants a Special License to Visit Cuba
A severe trade embargo against Cuba has been in place since the 60s, and as part of this embargo, U.S. citizens are hindered from touring Cuba because it is illegal for them to have transactions in the country (for instance, their credit cards won’t work in Cuba.) However, the US Government can supply a special license that gets around the embargo if your travel fits a certain category – and they’re pretty lax because they include family visits, work-related reasons, journalisms, humanitarian projects, etc. Check with the embassy to see the full list of exemptions.
Rely on Foreign Gateway Cities
It is technically illegal for U.S. citizens to travel straight to Cuba, but many tourists get around this by traveling to a foreign country first, and then traveling to Cuba from there. Canada and Mexico are popular gateways to Cuba. Really, when you think about it, tourists from other countries get to enjoy Cuba, why can’t the U.S. Citizens? Surely many Americans no longer care about what Cuba and the US were fighting over several decades ago.
Casas Particulares Are Your Friends
Some of the most popular tourist spots in Cuba, like Trinidad, Havana, and Varadero, boast of the most beautiful hotels and resorts in the world. But they’re not cheap, and made even more inaccessible by American credit cards being worthless while you are in the country. In these cases, you should rely on a “casa particular” as an alternative.
Casas Particulares are transient homes, where you pay other people to stay temporarily in their house. The agreements usually include breakfast, and will only cost around 20 to 30 USD per night for a double room. The casas don’t have a website most of the time, so you’ll have to look for them by asking around when you get to Cuba. Don’t worry, there’s a lot of them and you won’t have a hard time finding one.