Las Cruces, NM

CUBA OFF THE LEASH - Getting there on your own!


My husband John and I went to Cuba for our honeymoon this past January 2017! We spent two wonderful weeks exploring this incredible island that remains in a time warp. We found the Cuban people to be very welcoming and especially excited to engage with us when they found out we were Americans! Cuba is a very easy county to get around in on your own and I would like to encourage people to do so, speaking Spanish is very helpful but not absolutely necessary.

The following information should help you plan your trip. I decided to call these write ups -
CUBA OFF THE LEASH - Getting there on your own!


  • A passport is needed to enter Cuba
  • Ensure that your passport has at least 6 months left till it expires, calculated from your departure date
  • There was a Passport Agency in El Paso - in order to be eligible to schedule an appointment with the passport agency you must be traveling internationally in less than 2 weeks or need to obtain a foreign visa within 4 weeks


  • To pass customs in Cuba you need a tourist card. You can order this casual "visa" through the Cuban Embassy or Consulate in your country and some travel agencies and flight companies. Cuban Embassies and Consulates worldwide
  • You can also order your tourist card online though they ship the tourist cards to almost anywhere in the world. Tripadvisor indicates that people are very happy with their service
  • The Moon Guidebook states that the “tourist visa is typically issued when you check in for your plane to Cuba”
  • Cuba Junky states “that most airlines won't let you board without a tourist visa but AeroMexico let us board and we didn’t realize that we didn’t have our visas until we were almost to Havana! BE SURE TO ASK WHEN CHECKING IN!
  • We were able to get our tourist visas at Jose Marti International airport in Havana but at huge cost and even then the kiosk was hard to find

U.S. CITIZENS: President Obama liberalized travel to Cuba (2014)

  • He did NOT end travel restrictions (that is the prerogative of Congress) and “tourism” (recreational travel) is still not allowed
  • The Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses for 12 categories of travel
  • The following are the 12 categories of licensed travel:

    1. Family visits
    2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental     organizations
    3. Journalistic activity
    4. Professional research and professional meetings
    5. Educational activities
    6. Religious activities
    7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions and exhibitions
    8. Support for the Cuban people
    9. Humanitarian projects
    10. Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutions
    11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information, or informational materials
    12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and       guidelines


  • We chose to fly out of Mexico on AeroMexico since it was so much cheaper than flying from the U.S.
  • Round trip tickets from Cuidad Juarez to Havana, via Mexico City were $417.45 (U.S. dollars) or 8,569 pesos per person, when I checked prices from the U.S. it was almost $1400.00 per person (El Paso to Houston then to Miami or Atlanta before going on to Havana)
  • In order to fly out of Mexico we needed to get FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple) forms. These can now be completed online or


  • Travelers to Cuba must have medical insurance
  • Travelers, who don't have medical insurance upon their arrival, can acquire insurance through Cuban insurance companies
  • We got our medical insurance through GeoBlue (


  • Credit cards cannot be used if it is drawn on an American bank, this is part of the US embargo restrictions on Cuba. U.S. travelers cheques cannot be used either
  • Americans have to carry cash
  • Fortunately, almost all hotels have safes in the room. As for casa particulares mostly they are to be trusted, because the owners of a casa are too frightened to loose their licensee because something "bad" happened with a tourist in their home
  • We chose to be very prudent and always keep out cash in our money belts on our persons, we also did the same with our passports
  • You can change U.S. dollars but the Cuban government charges 12% interest so it is better to exchange another currency. We decided to order Mexican pesos, which we then converted to Cuban money (CUCs) once we landed in Havana.
  • The CUC is at parity with the U.S. dollar
  • The Cuban currency (moneda nacional) is the peso; it is also designated “$” and should not be confused with the CUC or US$, when we were there in January 2017 the peso was about 24 to the US$

CASAS PARTICULARES — Cuba’s version of our B&Bs — offer the island’s best lodging values by far

  • Legally licensed houses post a blue Arrendador Divisa sign, like an inverted anchor, on or beside the front door; those with a red sign are licensed to rent only to Cubans in pesos
  • Cuba-Junky’s casa particular directory—the first to be available as an app—provides information about hundreds of casas that rent rooms, suites, or sometimes entire apartments (all of which, in Cuba, go by the name of casa particular)
    • The Cuba-Junky ( casa directory app is current, convenient, and comprehensive. It provides casa photos, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, Facebook and website link and IT WORKS OFFLINE!
  • The price is per room not per person, so several persons sharing a room can save money
  • Internet is very spotting in Cuba so it is best to call for reservations rather than email


  • Cuba operates on 110 volt electricity nationwide
  • Most outlets use U.S. plugs


  • In 2008, Raul Castro lifted restrictions on who can own cell phones, since then cell phone use has rocketed
  • Verizon now covers Cuba (as of this writing in 2017), there is no need for a SIM card, just call Verizon Global Service 1-800-711-8300 to set coverage
    • Dial +1 and 10-digit# to call U.S.
    • For international support call +1-908-559-4899 or visit
  • Depending on your plan:
    • Calls made and received: $2.99 per minute
    • Text: Send at $0.5; receive at $0.05
    • Pic/video messages use international data


Cuba in general

  • Caribbean Tourist Organization – Official tourism website of the Caribbean
  • Cuba Web – Cuban government-run tourist-focused site
  • Christopher P. Baker – Authority on travel and tourism to Cuba
  • Lonely Planet – Guide to visiting Cuba
  • Cuba Junky - Cuba travel information, all info you need for your trip to Cuba and reviews
  • Ministerio de Turismo – Portal of Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism
  • US. Treasury Department (OFAC) – What you need to know about U.S. law and Cuba
  • Cuba Update for 2016-2017 | Legal Cuba Travel Explained
  • Cuba Si – Generic Cuban government site with sections on travel, culture, new, etc.
  • Cuba Standard – Excellent news site focused on economics, business and politics

Havana specific

  • Habaguanex – Site of the state entity that runs all tourist entities in Habana Vieja
  • Infotur – Information on tourist information centers in Havana (Habana)
  • La Habana – Havana supersite, dedicated to the capital city
  • Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad Habana – Spanish-only site. Office of the City Historian relating to restoration projects, museums, hotels and sites of interest in Habana Vieja

Article by Faith Hutson



Your Las Cruces Business Directory

  Accountants (CPA)   Audio/Video - Auto   Auto Lubrication   Auto Transmission Services
  Advertising   Audio/Video - Home   Auto Muffler & Exhaust   Auto Tune Up Services
  Air Conditioning   Auto 4x4 Services   Auto Paint & Body Shops   Auto Window Tinting
  Airport Transportation   Auto A/C Services   Auto Parts - New   Auto Upholstery
  Alarm Systems & Monitoring   Auto Brake Services   Auto Parts - Used    
  Amusement Centers   Auto Dealers - New Cars   Auto Repair Shops    
  Antiques & Collectibles   Auto Dealers - Used Cars   Auto Radiator Services    
  Apartments   Auto Detailing   Auto Salvage Yards    
  Appliances   Auto Diesel Repair   Auto Tires    
  Art Galleries   Auto Glass & Plastic   Auto Towing    
  Art Supplies            
  Bail Bonds   Beauty Salons   Bicycles, Bicycle Repair   Books
  Balloons   Bed & Breakfasts   Boat Repair Shops   Boutiques
  Banks   Belly Dancing   Bookkeeping Services   Buildings - Portable
  Cabinets - Custom       Christian Bookstores   Concealed Carry Classes
  Cake & Cupcake Stores   Child Care   Cigar & Tobacco Shops   Construction Companies
  Cake Supplies   Children's Play Cafes   Cleaning Services   Countertops - Custom
  Campgrounds   Children's Shops   Clothing - Second Hand Shops    
  Carpet Stores   Chile   Computer, Laptop, Electronics - Sales    
  Catering   Chiropractors   Computer, Laptop, Electronics - Repair    
      Chocolate Shops   Computer, Networks & WiFi    
  Dentists   Document Shredding   Dog Training    
  Doctors   Document Storage   Doors    
  Electronic Cigarettes, E-cigs   Electronic Equipment Sales   Equipment & Uniforms    
  Electricians   Embroidery   Eye Care    
  Financial Services   Firearms Instructors   Fitness   Furniture - New
  Fingerprinting Services   Fireplaces & Stoves   Flooring   Furniture - Pre Owned
  Firearms   Firewood   Florists    
  Garden Centers   Gift Shops   Gold Buyers   Granite Countertops
  Garden Decor   Glass Blowing   Gourmet Foods   Gyms
  Gardening Advice   Glass Companies   Granite - Custom   Gun Shops
  Hardware Stores       Home Security   Hot Rods, Classics, Low Riders
  Hats - Mens & Womens   Home Decor   Hospitals & Clinics   Housing - Apartments
  Heating & Cooling Services   Home Health Care   Hotels    
  Health Clubs            
  Ice Cream & Yogurt   Insurance Companies   Internet Service Providers    
  Kitchen & Bath Remodeling   Kites & Flags        
  Landscape Contractors   Lawn / Yard Maintenance   Legal Services   Limousine Service
  Landscape Design Services   Legal Aid   Lighting   Loan Companies
  Mailing Services   Mirrors   Motels   Museums
  Mattresses   Mobile & Manufactured Homes   Motorcycle Riding Classes   Musical Instruments
  Men's Clothing   Mobile Homes - Used, Pre Owned   Motorcycle Sales & Service    
      Mortgage Loans   Moving Companies    
  Nail Salons   NMSU   Nutrition    
  Nightclubs   Nurseries        
  Oil Change Services   Optical Shops   Outdoor Living    
  Pain Management   Personal Training   Photography   Plastic Sheeting
  Painting Contractors   Pest Control   Photo Finishing, Custom Photo Printing   Plumbers
  Party Supplies   Pet Boarding & Sitting   Photo Restoration   Popcorn
  Passenger Transportation   Pet & Animal Feed & Supplies   Physical Therapy   Printing
  Pawn Shops   Pet Food   Picture Framing - Custom   Propane Gas
  Payroll Services   Pet Grooming   Pizza    
  Pecans   Pet Shops        
  Quartz Countertops            
  Real Estate       Roofers    
  Refrigeration Services   Reptiles   RV Parks    
  Remodeling Contractors   Restaurants   RV Sales & Service    
  Salons   Screens   Sheds   Solar Power
  Salsa   Screen Printing & Embroidery   Shooting Ranges   Sprinkler Systems
  Schools - Preschool & Daycare   Security Companies   Shower & Bath Enclosures   Sports Equipment & Uniforms
  Schools - Public   Security Guard Services   Signs & Banners   Stucco Contractors
  Schools - Technical Schools   Self Storage   Smoke Shops   Swimming Pools
  Tax Preparation   Tire & Wheel Stores   Trailer Sales & Repair   Tropical Fish
  Tattoo and Body Art   Towing   Trampoline Parks   Truck Accessories
  Thrift Shops   Trailer Hitches   Travel Agencies   Truck Repair
  Tile Stores       Tree Care Services    
  Uniforms   Upholstery        
  Veterinarians   Vintage Computers & Electronics        
  Vintage & Ethnic Clothing            
  Water Softeners   Welding   Windshields    
  Website Design   Windows   Wineries    
      Window Tinting   Wreckers    
  X - Y - Z            

About Las Cruces  Privacy Policy  |  Site Usage Agreement  Contact Us  Advertise With Us

© Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.