Cuba: You May Be Ready but The Country Is Not–Yet Anyway

A Havana street scene. Al Dente photo.
How to get around in Havana.

Like everyone, we were thrilled with President Obama’s decision to normalize relations in Cuba.  So in the forseeable future you might be able to legally visit this intriguing nation. But sadly there are still lots of barriers to a visit, that until changed make Cuba unlike any other country in the region.

From our friends at  All the Rooms, here are some facts about what Cuba is like right now.

1. There are no major hotel and resort chains in Cuba. Remember that Americans aren’t permitted to do business there, which means there is no Hilton, no Hyatt, no Holiday Inn.

2. None of the usual American booking sites show anything for Cuba. No Priceline, no, no Expedia.

3. No American vacation rental sites show anything for Cuba. No Airbnb, no VRBO.
On the other hand there are tons of European sites that do hotels and vacation rentals. We have aggregated them all at AllTheRooms.

4. There are no direct airlines flying to Cuba in the near future. U.S. carriers aren’t allowed to fly to Cuba, and it will be some time before flights become the norm.

5. While you will be able to charter a plane, the majority of us will have to fly from Canada and Mexico directly.

6. Credit cards aren’t going to work if they are issued by a U.S. bank. That means bring cash or travelers checks (even American Express ironically) if possible. Don’t worry, the exchange rate is good and the dollar is actually accepted anywhere.

7. Americans have always been welcome in Cuba, so there is no cause for worry. In fact, they are embraced. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens visit the country (illegally) ever year.

8. It’s best to plan ahead if you want to get to Cuba before the fast-food chains, retail stores, and corner Starbucks take over and see the island in its current glory. It’s only a matter of time before Congress approves and the travel stampede commences.