Emily: When I learned about America’s more relaxed policy towards travel to Cuba, I jumped at the opportunity!
Cuba has a lot to offer. My friends and I were drawn to the classic cars, the Art Deco architecture, and, of course, the friendly people! We also love music and dance, which is one of Cuba’s specialties! Rick Steves recently produced an excellent video on Cuba that’s fun and informative.
The US and Cuba reached an agreement for direct flights. Flight availability to Cuba from various US airports and search engines is ALWAYS changing, so be sure to try multiple search engines and cities, if possible. Readers have reported that some flights to Cuba from the US may be opening up. When I went to Cuba in December 2015, flights were not scheduled yet. My friends and I flew via Cancun, and continued our journey to Havana.
Note: Regulations surrounding US travel to Cuba are always changing, so make sure you check the current rules before planning your trip. There are limited opportunities to use miles & points, but you can save some money. I’ll show you how later in this series!
My travel partners included many of the same friends who accompanied me to Croatia!
Robbie (pink hair) is a professional dance instructor who teaches salsa, kizomba, and bachata. Sarita is also a dance teacher, as well as a graphic designer. Gissell teaches fitness classes and loves rock climbing.
On this trip, I went with 3 new friends – Diana, a local art teacher, Chelsea, who manages a hostel, and Antonio, who works in IT design. Traveling as a group of 7 was fun, but definitely challenging at times! We had a great time together, and can’t wait to return!
Viva Cuba! Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Viva Cuba! – Introduction & Planning
- Part 2 – Viva Cuba! – The Basics: Visa Requirements
- Part 3 – Viva Cuba! – The Basics: Cash Planning
- Part 4 – Viva Cuba! – The Basics: Internet
- Part 5 – Viva Cuba! – Flights to Cuba
- Part 6 – Viva Cuba! – Where to Stay & How to Book
- Part 7 – Viva Cuba! – Where to Stay: Casa Particular Overview
- Part 8 – Viva Cuba! – Where to Eat
- Part 9 – Viva Cuba! – The Best (Cheap) Food & Drink Options
- Part 10 – Viva Cuba! – What to Do in Havana Part 1
- Part 11 – Viva Cuba! – What to Do in Havana Part 2
- Part 12 – Viva Cuba! – What to Do – Day Beach Trips from Havana
- Part 13 – Viva Cuba! – Return Flights to the US
- Part 14 – Viva Cuba! – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
Casa Particulars Probably Have the Best Food
Our most delicious meals (by far!) were in our own home. I learned that most Cubans don’t have the income to visit expensive restaurants very often, and instead learn to cook delicious food at home for a fraction of the cost.
We had breakfast at our casa particular EVERY morning. Our host family charged $7 per person, which was totally worth it. They served scrambled eggs, croquetas (similar to hush puppies), meat, bread and butter, fruit, juice, coffee, etc.
We had extravagant breakfasts, fit for royalty!
Supermarkets Don’t Have a Great Food Selection
My friends and I found a supermarket and decided to stock up on snacks, wine, and water. We were amazed at the small selection of food. And the large selection of alcohol!
Fresh produce was particularly sparse. It’s best to visit a farmers market for that.
The selection of mayonnaise was above average, though.
Plenty of hot dogs, too.
As well as canned meats and fish.
Their liquor selection was pretty extensive. Stay away from the cheap wine – it takes like vinegar!
I really liked Mulata rum (my personal favorite was the darker, caramel colored one).
We stocked up on lots of water.
A store employee helped us carry our groceries down to the car. He even helped us load it up!
No matter where you stay, there is likely a farmers market somewhere nearby. Your host family can direct you to the closest one.
There are lots of fruits and vegetables.
I decided to try some Cuban sweets. I was able to pay in the local currency, making them SUPER cheap!
We enjoyed looking at the selection of fruit, and buying a few unfamiliar kinds to try back at the apartment..
The best food in Cuba is probably in your own apartment! Ask your host family if they can cook for you. The fee is well worth the meal.
Supermarkets are a great place to shop for water and liquor, but that’s about it. They didn’t carry a lot of other products!
Farmers markets are excellent for buying cheap produce. And for trying new fruits! We didn’t buy much else, because we didn’t have access to a kitchen at our apartment.