Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that Cuba and the United States are renewing ties. At the end of last year, the United States and Cuba announced a revival of diplomatic relations, and while travel is still restricted for Americans, there are ways for United States citizens to visit the country. (Note that “tourist travel” is still prohibited. To keep up-to-date on travel restrictions, we recommend checking out WikiTravel as a starting point for research).
For those of you who are curious about visiting the island, which is only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, the lift on the travel ban comes as good news. So when (and how) is the best way to visit Cuba?
How to Visit Cuba in 2015 Before the Crowds
Cuba is already a popular destination among European vacationers, and we’re willing to bet that the island (the biggest in the Caribbean) will become one of the most popular island destinations once American tourists are allowed to travel without restrictions. The sooner you can visit, the better, because commercial tourism is likely to take over and shift island life away from its current state.
To experience Cuba with the allure of the way it is today, with its nostalgic 1950s look and feel (from before the Kennedy administration), there are certain things to consider, especially in regards to booking a flight and finding a place to stay.
While there are currently no direct airlines flying to Cuba from the United States, it is still possible to fly into Cuba through a non-direct route. Thousands of U.S. citizens visit the country every year (illegally), even before the traveler’s ban was lifted. You’ll need to fly through Canada, Mexico, the Caymans or another country to get there without the help of a charter. You can book a flight online through a non-U.S. carrier. We recommend visiting Cubana.cu to get started.
In its current state, there are no major hotel or resort chains in Cuba. On top of that, non of the standard American booking sites show listings in Cuba — from Priceline to TripAdvisor, it seems near to impossible to book a place to stay online. But don’t worry, we’ve aggregated a list of European sites with hotels and vacation rentals in Cuba, so it’s easy to find the accommodation that’s right for you by visiting our city page here.
In the future, travel to Cuba will become easier and easier, and eventually American citizens will be able to visit as easily as we do to any other destination in the Caribbean. Of course, we recommend going as soon as you get the chance so you can beat the inevitable wave of tourists. Visit Old Havana, take a hike at Pico Turquino and enjoy the beaches at Playa Paraiso.
If you have any other questions on traveling to Cuba, be sure to let us know in the comments!