Cuba is often considered the "forbidden Caribbean" island to most Americans. Just 90 miles from Key West, Florida until December 2014, this incredible island was restricted to US travelers.
Now that the travel restrictions have been lifted here are some useful tips for planning and executing a successful trip!
1. Take lots of cash because you can't use cards and it's difficult getting extra money. Exchange rate is decent but most places will take 10-13% for the exchange rate.
2. Few people speak English so brush up on your Spanish or get a translation app.
3. Do NOT drink tap water. Brush your teeth with bottle or run the risk of getting sick.
4. Havana is amazing but take a day trip or 2 out of the city. We went to Trinidad and Vinales and they were amazing!
5. Transportation can be expensive. I paid roughly $250 in taxis and transportation to and from both places. In hindsight I should have rented a car.
6. WiFi is sparce. You can buy cards and find Hotspot but I didn't even bother. Just enjoy being disconnected for a few days if you can.
7. Food was okay, nothing special unfortunately. Apparently communism also means lack of seasoning! I did have some amazing lobster in Trinidad.
8. We stayed in homes since hotels are few and super expensive. Air B&B were wonderful, very friendly and it was so nice to interact with locals.
Taxis are the best option and depending on your destination and time of travel can be quite inexpensive, especially if you are splitting your fare.
When Pinar del Río's greenery starts to erupt into craggy mogotes (limestone monoliths) and you spy a cigar-chewing guajiro driving his oxen and plough through a rust-colored tobacco field, you know you've arrived in Viñales. Despite its longstanding love affair with tourism, this slow, relaxed, wonderfully traditional settlement is a place that steadfastly refuses to put on a show. What you see here is what you get – an agricultural town where front doors are left wide open, everyone knows everyone else, and a night out on the tiles involves sitting on a sillón (rocking chair) on a rustic porch analyzing the Milky Way.