Did you know that over 2 million tourist visit Cuba annually?
It honestly never crossed my mind that Cuba had a tourist influx and to be really honest with you I didn't think they had any.
But really, I must live in my own little world because why would I think that other countries could not visit.
It is just America that they do not like...not Canada or Europe etc and Cuba is one of the most popular Caribbean destination for those countries.
Major international hotels have popped up there such as Riu, Iberostar, and Melia and are large enough resorts to accommodate the most savvy global travelers.
I really must have been living in a hole.....
With all the recent news regarding America and Cuba restoring relations it has sparked a huge flame inside of me to visit the country. I have had images of me dancing in the streets in a long flowing red skirt with my crisp white mid-drift shirt, swinging my son around while my husband smokes a Cuban cigar at the bar.
That is not going to happen....at least not legally yet.
Americans have been using loopholes to travel to Cuba for years now and while the most adventurous person may think that sounds fine it really is dangerous. There is no embassy there to help you if you get caught there illegally and if you do get caught expect hefty fines and an extremely uncomfortable experience clearing customs (use your imagination). Also, Cuba is ruled by an authoritarian government which mean many of the rights you are used to as an American do not exist there. Again use your imagination...
*Disclaimer: This is not legal advice nor do I advice you to travel to Cuba illegally. Contact your own travel consultant with any questions.
So how have people been going there for so long before now?
Surprisingly, the Cuban government welcomes Americans to visit with a passport but when you pass through Customs you will notice something different happens-they will not stamp your passport. They do that to make it appear as if you were never there but trust me when I say they still know you are there.
The most common way that Americans have found to visit the beautiful country is by flying out of a different country such as Mexico or Canada and getting a Cuban tourist card at the airport that makes visiting Cuba good for 30 days. And you can use companies like Cuba Travel USA to book your flights and hotels.
Before when I mentioned the penalties for getting caught in Cuba illegally it only applies if you do not have a passport in general AND a Cuba Tourist Card. All visitors regardless of which nation they travel from need a passport and a travel card.
How can we travel to Cuba completely legit from America?
Honestly, this way sounds pretty boring. You have to book with certain companies like Insight Cuba and Central Holidays as these companies have official licenses from the Department of State to offer tours. These tours will include stops at museums, historic sites, even the Bay of Pigs or a local Community block party - essentially the American government only allows activities that bring together Cuban and American people. People to people activities...
The tour packages from these companies range from 5 to 13 days in duration and can cost anywhere between $2,900 to $5,000 per person. And that does not include the charter plane airfare from Miami to Cuba. What it does include is all lodging, activities, in-country transportation and meals.
Now for all of you who follow my blog you know that I would never pay that much money to travel to a "second world country".
Again, I am not advising anyone to travel their illegally but if I were to go I would book everything myself out of Mexico legally :) I do not like being told what to do, where to go and when....just not my style.
When I go I want to be able to dance in the streets...
wander lazily down sun-drenched beaches...
And walk through Havana unsupervised...
Sounds nice doesn't it????