Cuba – The Time is Now!
*Disclaimer: This information contained on this blog does not constitute legal advice. Regulations are subject to change at any time; for the most up to date information on travel to Cuba please consult the U.S. Department of the Treasury website.
Cuba, the land of mojitos, salsa music, and Havana nights. I visited several years ago slightly nervous and uncertain of what to expect. Growing up as a ballet dancer I was intrigued by Cuba’s world famous dance companies and its many talented artists. I did enough advance research to know that I would need to bring a lot of cash with me and that I should plan to not have access to the internet for the duration of my trip.
Two weeks later I departed Havana with a greater affection for this island nation, its people, and its love of life and the arts than I have perhaps ever felt in any of my years of travel. I could never have predicted just how hard I would fall for this uniquely challenging but welcoming country. For months upon returning from Cuba I voraciously read everything that I could get my hands on about the country’s history, US-Cuba relations, daily life… you name it. It was clear that this had been more than just a trip to the Caribbean – I will forever follow Cuba’s journey.
“However you feel about the government, however you feel about the last 55 years, there aren’t any places in the world that look like this. I mean, it’s utterly enchanting.” – Anthony Bourdain.
Based on this experience I’m firmly committed to promoting travel to Cuba that helps to support local Cuban entrepreneurs and build cultural understanding between Americans and Cubans. Read on to learn more about how you can plan your own legal visit to Cuba and do just that!
Can Americans still travel to Cuba?
Yes! Americans have been able to legally travel to Cuba for decades and today is no exception. The regulations have changed frequently throughout the past several years which has understandably left travelers very confused.
Is it required to go on a group tour to travel to Cuba?
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to arrange a legal custom private itinerary for independent travel to Cuba. We work with travel insiders who specialize in Cuba travel and have incredible access to the country’s best tour guides, accommodations, restaurants, and off the beaten path tours and experiences. Whether you’re into art, history, dance, music, or other aspects of Cuban culture we can custom tailor an itinerary to you.
There are of course many wonderful escorted group tours to Cuba, including a variety of niche tours like culinary focused tours or cycling tours. We’re very familiar with these companies and can find just the right experience to suit your wants and needs.
What do the regulations entail?
In short, your itinerary is limited to activities that help to strengthen the civil society in Cuba. In order for the trip to be legally compliant travelers must engage in a full-time schedule of activities that “enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba. The traveler’s schedule of activities does not include free time or recreation in excess of that consistent with a full-time schedule.”
So, a snorkel trip is out of the question. We can assure you that there is no shortage of other Caribbean islands that are a much better fit to work on your tan!
The good news? I wouldn’t advise my clients to travel to Cuba any other way, regardless of what’s required. Cubans have limited opportunities to run their own independent enterprises such as restaurants, guesthouses and taxi services and tourism is the best way to support their businesses. These privately owned services often far exceed the quality of the government run competitors, making it a win-win to support them and have an authentic cultural experience.
What do I need to know before going to Cuba?
If there is one country in the world where you should absolutely work with a trusted travel consultant or tour company to advise you on your trip, it’s Cuba. There are two different categories of things you need to know in order to have a successful and legal trip to Cuba:
1.) The rules and regulations: They are indeed confusing for the average traveler, but we work with well vetted partners who specialize in Cuba travel and whose lawyers remain up to the minute on the travel regulations. We take care of everything for you and keep you well informed on the process, so that you only have your trip to look forward to.
2.) The unique aspects of Cuba travel: The dual currency, the lack of internet access, how to get around, and much more. Even for an experienced world traveler, Cuba is a whole new world to navigate if you haven’t done your homework in advance. Once again when you work with Foray to design your trip we will educate you on everything you need to know!
Who is a good candidate to enjoy a trip to Cuba?
I’m glad you asked! As a travel advisor, one of the most important aspects of my job is to help make sure that we find the destination that’s the best fit for you. The people who will most enjoy a trip to Cuba are those who have a sense of adventure and a general sense of curiosity surrounding the culture, history, and arts. Consumer goods are extremely hard to come by in Cuba, meaning that you may need to do without some of the creature comforts you’re used to at home. Your favorite foods may not be available. Air conditioning may come and go. Internet access is a rare luxury. Prepare to unplug!
Those who see past these occasional inconveniences and seek to uncover the richness of Cuba’s people and culture will most appreciate what the experience has to offer. I work closely with my clients to ensure that Cuba is the right destination for their next trip. Still not sure? Feel free to get in touch and chat!
I’m in! When can I go?!
Perfecto! Send us a note here and let’s get started.