Double Duty Daddy

90 Miles Pa’ Cuba

DD Daddy January 11, 2017 Posts No Comments on 90 Miles Pa’ Cuba

With the new wave of airlines getting the green light by the DOT and Cuba OK’ing U.S. commercial air carriers to fly into Cuba, I’m off to Cuba in 2 weeks.

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Living in Miami and knowing so many Cuban-Americans personally, I know there’s sharply contrasted opinions of whether one should visit Cuba or not step foot in the still communistic nation. I’m a traveler first and foremost so when the opportunity arose to visit a nation that up until a few months ago was mostly off-limits to Americans, I got up and booked my JetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Havana for $130 round trip. With so much competition for flights to Cuba and the most flight options originating in South Florida, finding a cheap fare is extremely easy.

Prior to the booking process, I’d heard from friends that had already visited the island that one must purchase a Cuban approved health insurance (your U.S. based insurance won’t work) and U.S. citizens were required to select one of the 12 approved reasons for travel to Cuba, including family visits, journalistic activity, official business, or educational activities, among others. A travel blogger friend Angelina from Angelina Travels who had visited Cuba and flew on JetBlue’s inaugural flight from NYC, told me that the Cuban health insurance is included with my plane ticket. Great, one less thing to worry about! So now all I need to do is purchase a Visa. Luckily, the Visa is purchased at your originating airport for $50 prior to getting on your flight to Cuba. Easy!

There aren’t many hotels that you can book with points in Cuba so the best place to stay is at a “casa particular”, a private room or apartment/house that you can rent from locals. Airbnb has incredibly unique listings in Cuba and there are no shortage of options on where to stay. I booked a private 2/2 high-rise apartment in Vedado, arguably the nicest neighborhood in Havana. I’ll be less than 10 minutes by taxi to Old Havana where many of the tourist sites are located and 2 minutes walking to “El Malecón”, a sea-walled avenue right on the water. My cost? $135 for 2 nights in what would be classified as a very nice Airbnb apartment listing.

You see, flight and lodging in Cuba can be dirt cheap but Cuba is not an affordable destination for tourists, especially American tourists. There is a different currency for tourists and locals and the exchange rate is more favorable for Europeans and Canadians than for Americans. U.S. bank cards are NOT accepted in Cuba as of yet so I’ll be taking cash out prior to leaving Fort Lauderdale. No credit card reward earnings for me on this trip.  

Pro tip: Exchange USD for Euros or Canadian dollars prior to leaving the U.S. and then exchange for Cuban pesos once in Cuba.

I’ll be frank. This isn’t a trip I had on my bucket list or a destination that I’ve been dying to visit but with the ability to now travel to Cuba, the short proximity from Miami which allows a short weekend to be feasible and the uncertainty behind the country’s future, now is the best the time to visit Cuba.

With an understanding that Havana is still mostly rustic, infrastructure is old and the modern world is scarce, I’ll go into it even keel and come out of it with some thoughts on my own to share on the blog.

Are you planning on visiting Cuba soon?

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