Cuba has long been a popular destination for vacations, especially for people looking for all-inclusive vacations and resorts that offer beautiful beaches and all the mojitos you want. Unlike many other destinations however, Cuba has been nested in a socio-political atmosphere unlike any other destination of its kind. It’s because of this that travellers often want to know more about the ins and outs of travel to the country and what to expect, and do, even when staying at all-inclusive resorts on the island.
We’ve been to Cuba several times and have visited quite a few resorts and with each experience we took home a tip or two about staying at one of their resorts. It seems like each time we learn something new and our last trip to Cayo Santa Maria, thanks to tripcentral.ca, was a wonderful experience that gave us even more insight.
No matter where you book your resort, what star it is or how long you plan to stay, we’ve put together 5 of our top travel tips for resorts in Cuba that you’ll want to consider before you go!
Bring Things To Give Away
This was a controversial subject on our last visit to the Cuba. For years, it was a given. When you travel to Cuba, you bring a bunch of things to give away to those working at the resort. This time, we found thread after thread online discussing why bringing things is not welcomed by the people of Cuba and is no longer a good idea. People repeatedly said it was an insult to the Cubans to receive goods in lieu of cash tips, that handing them toiletries, clothes or toys at any time was suggesting they It seems that ss the country’s political climate has been changing, so has the country’s entire socio-economic structure and that has given to changes in the way others around the world view the country and their behaviour towards it.
We decided to do a little research of our own while we were there and talk to those working on the resorts we were visiting. What we found was that there
Book Your A La Carte Right Away & Think of Sunsets
Something we try and do right away when we get to an all-inclusive resort is get our a la carte restaurant reservations booked. Though what restaurants and how many a la carte dinners are included with your stay differs depending on what resort you go to, the one thing that stays consistent is the demand for them.
Especially in high-season, reservations can book up fast, so it’s good practice to get yours booked as soon as possible. This guarantees you get the restaurant(s) you want as well as the day and time that suits you best. One huge factor that always plays into the timing of our reservations is sunsets. Depending on where you are staying in Cuba, you may have the opportunity to witness some beautiful sunsets and if you’re hoping to catch as many as you can, you’ll want to make sure you’ve booked your a la cartes around sunset hours.
Of course, since we can never predict what the skies have in store, we like to keep sunset hours free on all the days to make sure we’ll catch at least one or two beautiful sunsets!
Know Your Drinks
Whether you drink alcoholic beverages or not, your all-inclusive package is going to include unlimited drinks of any variety. Between a limited availability of products (though these limitations seem to be less and less with each passing year), translations and the like, you may be surprised to find your favourite beverage doesn’t taste exactly as you expected… but that doesn’t mean it can’t.
We’ve had so many people mention the taste of their drinks to us while at resorts. The coffee was an espresso rather than a regular coffee, the rye and ginger didn’t taste right, the list goes on. The problem may lay more at your feet than at the bartenders’ or resorts’.
Instead of just asking for your cocktail or mixed beverage, ask for them to be made with specific liquors (that you may already know you like) when you order. While it’s true that not all resorts will include all the alcohol options (some may charge more for top-shelf liquors), you’ll still be better off finding the best ones for the drinks you like.
A tip for rum drinkers? If you can, Havana Club 7 year is found at most resorts and will up the quality of any of your rum beverages from the basic bottled rums they may use. For non-drinkers, ask if there’s a special virgin cocktail that the bartender makes (you’ll be surprised at the tasty concoctions you can find at resorts that come without booze) and be specific when ordering your coffee beverages – some of the names may be the same but the composition of your brew may not!
Bring What Cash You Need
This is something we get reminded of time and time again, AFTER we’re already in Cuba. We always think we’ve brought enough cash with us and figure we’ll be fine. We always wind up down to our last dollar (or should we say peso) and have some minor stresses about what will happen if we need some cash at customs or at the airport.
As of this article, Cuba still does not accept American credit cards or any credit card affiliated with American companies (which is a vast majority of them around the world). Since ATMs aren’t widespread, you’ll need to bring the cash you need so you can convert it once you are in Cuba.
It’s hard to know exactly how much you’ll need especially since, if you’re at an all-inclusive, you’ve already pre-paid for everything. What you’ll need to think of is souvenirs, excursions, any transportation for sightseeing, wifi cards, emergency money (e.g. medicine at the resort) and tips. You don’t have to convert all of it unless you need it but it helps to have extra on hand. If there’s a safe at your resort it also won’t make it a hardship to have as you can lock it up and forget it unless you need it.
A tip about tips? Leave them! It is greatly appreciated and a few dollars here and there for those who do a great job does make a difference.
Prep Your Apps and Downloads Before You Go
This is another lesson learned too late: make sure you have any apps and downloads completed before you leave for your trip. While you can get wifi (there are 1.50 CUC per hour cards that can be purchased at resorts) it is unpredictable and you probably won’t be able to get through larger downloads.
If you’ve prepped ahead you’ll be able to upload photos to social media, send emails and even Skype/Facetime. You’ll also want to make sure your audio library is stocked and any e-books are ready to go as well!