Things to Know BEFORE You Go  

This page is for the big stuff. The stuff you wouldn't necessarily expect, and it might screw you up if you don't.

One thing that I've heard frequently is that the electrical plugins are really hit-and-miss. Some resorts have 220V plugins, some have 110V plugins. Sometimes, even if you have an adapter, it still won't work. So try not to depend on things like electric razors, curling irons, or battery chargers for digital cameras. They might work; but then again, they might not.

Information from our travel agent tells us that our resort has 220V power, and there are a limited number of adapters available at the resort, but it's probably best not to rely to heavily on electric equipment.

Another big one is currency. As of November 8th, 2004, Cuba has banned the use of American dollars in its economy. They can be exchanged at banks and some of the resorts down there, but they are subject to a 10% surcharge. Canadian money can be exchanged as well, but is not subject to the 10% surcharge, so just bring Canadian.

What you should receive when you exchange your money s Cuban Convertible Pesos. They have the value of 1CCP = $1 US and are mainly used by tourists to pay for goods and services. One thing to watch out for is that there are two currencies in Cuba; the Cuban Convertible Pesos, used by tourists, and the Cuban Pesos, which are used by locals. This page can show you the difference between the two currencies (though, there is some outdated information with regards to the use of the American dollar in Cuba!). If you are venturing off the beaten path, some restaurants and street vendors conduct business in Cuban Pesos, so be careful of paying too much. If you are planning a lot of off-resort time, you might want to get some Cuban Pesos as well as Convertible Pesos.

Speaking of money and banks, this brings me to a rather important point. Bank cards, credit cards, and traveller's cheques issued by American banks are HIGHLY UNLIKELY to be accepted (again due to the American trade embargo).

The American trade embargo also makes it difficult and expensive to get some goods in Cuba. Sunscreen, after-sun lotion, tylenol, advil, pepto-bismol, women's supplies, and some other products can cost a lot, so bring these with you! A few people may have trouble with the water, depending on stomach sensitivity, so stick to the bottled water or bring pepto or gravol with you.

If venturing off the resort, some places can charge you for toilet paper or wash stations in the bathrooms. Bring a little extra money or some TP/tissues and antibacterial hand wash.

If you're planning on buying some Cuban cigars (and really, who isn't?), it's probably best to buy them from a government shop rather than random people who may try to sell them to you at the beach. Keep your receipts because they may be requested as you're leaving Cuba, and keep in mind that you can only bring back 50 cigars duty-free. Also, 40 oz. of liquor (rum!) or 1.5 L of wine is allowed duty-free. This page has more information regarding what you can bring back to Canada duty-free.

When leaving, there is a $25 departure tax collected at the airport. So save a little money for the trip home!

Back to main