Photocopy of Important Documents:
Tourists should carry photocopies of all paperwork, including passport and insurance documents, to minimize delay in the event of any problems or an emergency.
You can take any currency from your country of origin; except for USD dollars. However, you should only take bills and no coins as the latter is not accepted.
Please, keep in mind that US dollar is not being accepted for exchanging into local currency. So we recommend taking Euros, Canadian dollars, Sterling Pounds, or another hard currency.
No cards issued by US institutions work in Cuba, so it is recommended that you verify beforehand that your card is not associated with a US banking institution and secondly, and of great importance, that you always have a cash backup to avoid setbacks.
You can exchange your foreign currency for Cuban pesos (CUP) at Cuban exchange houses (CADECA) located at international airports, cruise ships terminals, shopping malls and popular tourist sites. You can also exchange at banks and some hotels.
You can also purchase a Prepaid Card with balances of 200, 500 and 1,000 USD dollars to make purchases in establishments that do not accept cash. You can also use it to withdraw cash in Cuban pesos (CUP) only at Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) at the exchange rate of 24 pesos (CUP) per 1 dollar (USD).
Upon exiting the country, you can exchange back your Cuban Pesos (CUP) or the balance left in your Prepaid Card for a foreign currency as per international exchange rates.
The national currency in Cuba is the Cuban Peso (CUP). One Cuban Peso is equivalent to 100 cents. There are bills of 1, 3, 5, 10, 10, 20, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos, as well as fractional coins of 1, 3 and 5 pesos and 5 and 20 cents.
Power Converter (220V > 110V) which can be found at your local CAA or London Drugs.
Battery-powered alarm clock. You can't trust theirs to work and you don't want to miss bus or plane times.
Extra Batteries (any type of battery is expensive in Cuba).
Battery Charger & Rechargeable Batteries (Check whether your charger is dual voltage. If not, you may need the Power Converter as mentioned above).
Head Lamp / Flashlight if you want to trek the beaches at night or find that romantic spot for you and your loved one at night...B;b)...
Camera (bring ziploc bags to prevent camera & extra batteries from getting wet on outings [ie. Jeep Safaris / Catamaran tours]).
Headphones [2.5mm (1/8") jacks] for the plane ride (they charge you $5 dollars on the plane if you want to buy them).
Electric Shaver (Check whether your shaver is dual voltage. If not, you may need the Power Converter as mentioned above).
Socks & Underwear (if you plan on wearing either!).
Sea Socks (good for Catamaran Trips and exploring the island).
T-Shirts (Fast-Dry Type).
Shorts (Fast-Dry Type).
Sweater (for cooler nights...hopefully you will never need it!).
Jeans / Khakis etc...
Rain Jacket (hopefully you will never need it!).
Dress Shirt, Pants and Shoes (for A La Carte Restaurants and local Disco clubs...Cubans always dress their very best when going out in the evenings).
Toiletries & Medications:
Face Cloth (surprisingly, many hotels in Cuba do not have facecloths) For scrubbing down in the shower.
Mosquito Repellent (DEET is the most common ingredient at a maximum of approx. 30% solution...100% solutions have been outlawed due to its toxic effects....however there are some Herbal/Natural alternatives...not sure how well they work).
Beach Towel (if you lose your own there is no charge...some hotels charge $25 dollars if you lose theirs).
Condoms (self explanatory)
Medications (ensure you have a doctor's note and leave medications in original bottles - do not mix them to save space).
Tampons / Pads (very expensive to buy in Cuba).
First Aid Travel Kit (Immodium, Band Aids, PolySporin, etc).
Advil / Tylenol (these items are expensive in Cuba).
Toothpaste, Toothbrush & Mouthwash.
Hand / Skin Lotions.
Shampoo & Conditioner.
Leave-In Conditioners (great for battling the Sun and the Salt all day)
SunTan & Sunburn Lotions.
Electric shaver, Razors & Shaving lotion.
Get Hepatitis shots prior to arriving in Cuba (see Health).
Hip Sack (for carrying your camera and other small items around with you on outings).
Thermos (w/keyring & travel clip)...cups tend to be too small at all resorts.
Cigarettes (if you prefer to stick with the brand that you are used to).
Plastic Bags (for packing wet bathing suits prior to departure).
Plastic Bags (for packing shampoo & lotions in as they may explode/leak during the flight due to compression & decompression).
Ziploc Bags for your Camera (to prevent from getting wet).
Cheap Nylon Wallet (may not want to bring your leather wallet and remove all unnecessary cards/documents from your wallet).
Nicorette Gum (for the Plane ride...if you're a smoker, you may find it eases your nerves in flight).
Get a Tan prior to leaving (You might want to get a jumpstart on your tan and not look like a lobster the first couple of days there!).
Insulated mug. Their cups are small and your drink gets warm very quickly.
Gifts for the Locals and Donations:
Cubans warmly welcome gifts and donations such as:
Art supplies, musical instruments, guitar strings, others.
Baseball bats, balls and gloves, footballs, sport helmets and padding.
Aspirin and substitutes, sanitary items, medical thermometers, Band-Aids, Multiple vitamins and A, B, C, D, E.
School supplies (all kinds), toys for children, memory sticks, Spanish/English dictionaries and phrase books.
Good quality summer oriented used clothing and shoes, sheets and towels, ect.
We strongly advise against handing out donations or money to individuals you meet on the street. In areas frequented by tourists, professional scammers attempt to fleece foreign guests with scripted sob stories that win them cash or items they then sell on the black market, both resulting in hundreds of dollars every week. It also creates a proper scenario for pick pockets to pray on you.
Giving to new island friends or helping out Cubans you know from past trips is a most wonderful overture. Go for it! Please, do always consult with our Cuban guides and leaders when in doubt.
Things you should NOT pack:
all kinds of seeds, fresh animal or vegetable products unless prior approval has been obtained from Ministry of Agriculture;
narcotics, drugs and psychotropic substances except those for personal use and provided holding medical prescription;
all kinds of hemoderivatives;
explosives, firearms and ammunition unless prior authorization has been obtained from the Ministry of Interior;
obscene and pornographic materials; printed matter directed against the public order and the morality of Cuba and its revolution;
household appliances (freezers with a capacity exceeding seven cubic feet, air conditioners, any type or model of electric accumulators and heating/cooking plates, electric and microwave ovens, any type or size of electric frying pans, electric water heaters and showers, electric irons and toasters).
Passengers importing to Cuba other articles in addition to their personal items must fill out a Customs Declaration providing all the information required in this document.
If a passenger is carrying an amount in cash exceeding USD 5,000 or the equivalent amount in other currencies when entering Cuba, Customs Declaration must be presented.