Cuba like a Cuban

Frequently asked questions


First Rule to remember is that relations between U.S and Cuba are changing rapidly. While RumoRs abound, we monitor & travel frequently.Our expertise is what you depend upon from Faces of Cuba

  1. What do you recommend I bring with me?  There is no dress code.  Come as yourself and casually dressed.  Bring summer clothes, hats, umbrella (could rain), nice comfy shoes and an open mind. You'll be in a tropical climate, so try to be cool and comfortable!
  2. What is CUC vs. CUP? Cuba has two currencies. CUC, pronounced "kook," is the currency that tourists deal with - it has a value roughly equivalent to the US dollar. CUP is the national peso - it has a value of about 24 pesos to 1 USD - it is what Cubans typically use to buy food, electricity, certain products and nationalized services. Confusingly, they are both can be and are referred to as "pesos," however don't expect to handle CUP (except when you may receive change).
  3. How can I change money when I am there? We recommend that you change your money at a bank and "CADECA." The rates are comparable.  Cuba's monetary values are arbitrary and not tied to markets.  Exchanges are better with Euros, yes, but no need to buy them.  Bring your dollars.  How much:  $25 to $30 per day.  If you want to buy goods, you will want more money.
  4. Is there really a 10% penalty for changing US dollars? Yes, there is a 10% penalty for changing US dollars into CUC (plus the normal conversion rate fee). Jennifer always brings Euros to convert because she hates paying the penalty. Rick and Monique change USD. 
  5. I'm vegetarian or vegan or gluten free, will there be a lot of options for me? Short answer? Not really. Why? Because you are in Cuba. The Cuban diet was greatly affected during the Special Period, so you will still see a lot of pork and rice. There are certainly more fruits and vegetables and more variety now, but there are no guarantees in Cuba (vegetarians are often handed an omelette). If you have special dietary requirements, we recommend that you bring food with you.
  6. What is a "jinetero"? Literally, a jinetero translates into jockey, but in Cuba, it is a word used to describe men who try to take advantage of tourists by selling fake cigars, overpriced goods, lead you to restaurants/bars (where they will get a commission) and sometimes offering sexual services. "Jinetera," on the other hand, although literally translates to female jockey and is used to denote "prostitute."  Best to stay away.
  7. ATM and Credit Cards are not acceptable to date.  This is subject to change.  One caveat:  you may have a Canadian or European credit card, which would be acceptable.
  8. Health and Hygiene & Personal items:  Bring your medicines, toiletries, reading materials, camera, snacks & basic travel goodies. Most items that we are used to are not available in Cuba, so if you want it or need it, you should bring it.
  9. What documents are required?  Your passport has to be valid six months beyond your travel date.  Visas are required and we will help to secure them.  We also request your information on any medical needs, important contact numbers, and travel affidavit (we supply). 
  10. Is Cuba safe? People are often surprised to hear that Cuba is very safe for tourists. Don't get us wrong, crimes and pick pocketing do happen, but at much lower frequencies than other places and certainly other capital cities. Be smart and vigilant, like always, and you shouldn't have any problems.
  11. Will I be bothered by the police? Unless you are committing a crime or behaving strangely, the police do not typically interfere or talk to tourists. You may find that if you are traveling with a Cuban, the Cuban will be stopped, asked to show their ID, questioned and may be arrested.
  12. Are Cubans friendly? Yes, very friendly, but most visitors may not interact with many Cubans outside of the tourism industry (excluding street vendors and jineteros).  The Cuban government has a general policy against fraternizing with tourists, so while you will generally find Cubans to be friendly, curious and interested in the outside world, many will not approach you (this is especially true of older Cubans). 
  13. How do Cubans feel about Americans? Generally speaking, they like us, however they, understandably, do not like our government's policy toward their country. You will find that young people are very interested in American culture, especially hip-hop culture, clothing and music. 
  14. Is the water safe to drink? We never recommend that you drink the water. Even when water is safe to drink, your digestive system is not used to that regions flora and fauna. We would hate for you to miss out on your vacation because you drank the water. Buy bottled!
  15. Do many Cubans speak English? No. Cuba is a Spanish-speaking country and very few outside of the tourist industry speak English.
  16. What is Santería? Santería is a religion practiced in some parts of the New World that were previously controlled by the Spanish. An oversimplified explanation is that it is the mixture of a traditional African religion (originating with the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria and brought to Cuba when African slaves were brought there) and Catholic saints/imagery. 

Can't make it to Cuba with us in March? No worries!

We have more amazing 2017 tours lined up in June and November!!

Cuba like a Cuban isn't your typical, luxury tour through Cuba. No hotels and resort stays for us! Instead, we will experience Cuba much as a Cuban would - staying in Cuban homes, eating in the streets of Old Havana, taking public cars to get where we need to go. We will explore the sights and sounds, and be a part of this unique and lively world rather than separated from it. 

We will also speak to a leading economist, visit the University of Havana, speak with local business owners, see local nightlife and live music, learn a bit of salsa, have guided tours through the principal neighborhoods of Havana and ride in classic cars.

This trip is perfect for students, independent travelers (and families!) who do not want to stay in resorts, are okay with being a little uncomfortable, and want time to enjoy Cuba and explore on their own.  This is by no means a rugged adventure tour, but living like a Cuban sometimes means waiting for cabs, not having immediate access to the things you want and occasional power outages. If there were national expressions in Cuba, they would be "It ain't easy" and "It is what it is." Instead of seeing the inside of a hotel lobby, you will see the inside of a Cuban home. Instead buying $5.00 mojitos, you will buy some rum and coke to make your own Cuba Libres on the famous Malecón. Rather than seeing Cubans from inside of an air-conditioned bus, you will be walking with them in the streets.    

This a future, in the works,  8-day program includes stays in Havana and one other city, such as Viñales, Cienfuegos or Trinidad, flights to/from Cancun to Havana, at least one meal per day, guides, included activities and various transportation. 

Discover the real Cuba and experience Cuba like a Cuban!

Below, you can find a more detailed description for our upcoming program as well as some FAQs.

How do Cubans live? What is having a ration-book really like? How are businesses run? How do you live on $25 per month? Our program will explore these issues, try to give you a better understanding the cultural and historical context of these realities, and let you experience the real Cuba.

There is no where in the world quite like Cuba. Even seasoned travels aren't sure about what to expect (and are often surprised by what they find!). We've come up with answers to our most frequently asked questions and some recommendations to help you along The Way.

Cuba like a Cuban


KNowing the way 

Do you know THE WAY?