I recently went to Cuba and this blog will give you some insight on my journey there. Maybe by the time you are ready to go to Cuba a lot of the restrictions in place from the United States may have lifted. I bought my ticket from VaCuba. The ticket cost me $359 plus $80 for the Visa. When purchasing your ticket you will need to bring your passport. You will also need an address of someone in Cuba. I don't believe they really check the address but they need it to put in their system. Purpose of visit was to see friends and family.
The flight to Cuba is only 40min. At the airport going to Cuba I traveled on Aruba Air. They will charge you for everything going there. You are only allowed 20lbs total to bring on the plane. So if your small carry on and your personal item combined is more than 20lbs they will make you check one of them and then its $2 for each additional lbs over 20lbs. When you are leaving Cuba to head back to the states they don't care about the 20 pound rule. So if you're a photographer and you have a small carry on along with a tripod you will have to check one of those things. Once I arrived in Cuba it was fairly easy except waiting for your luggage took a very long time. Basically one luggage came out every ten minutes. So I suggest travel as light as possible especially if you're only going for a weekend.
After I got out of the airport and my ride picked me up it was as if I had travelled back in time. It was truly an amazing feeling seeing all those cars fill the roads like back in the 50's and 60's.
Lodging - Three of us went on the trip therefore we got an 2bd 2 bath apartment that could accommodate four. Here is the direct link to the airbnb https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/10499057 The apartment was pretty much like it is on the site. Very nice and clean with ac and hot water. Luis is who runs the place and he was very nice and helpful to us. He left us with a phone incase we needed to reach him and he would also get me wifi cards so I could connect to the internet. Overall a nice guy and nice place to spend a weekend in Vedado Cuba. The apartment is Central to almost every thing in Havana. Just two blocks away from the Malecon and two block away to the closest wifi spot. Fairly nice view from the eleventh floor. I would suggest staying in Vedado because the homes and apartment here are bigger and newer. One thing you should know is that when you use the toilet you can't flush the toilet paper down the toilet, you have to put it in the trash due to there lack of irrigation system. Also when you leave your place to head out on the road I highly recommend that you bring with you toilet paper or disposable wipes because most public restrooms won't have toilet paper and if they do they will charge you for it. Thanks for the warning Debbie.
Internet - Internet is limited in Cuba. In order to access the internet you have to buy wifi cards. If you buy them from the hotels or tourist spots they will cost you about 10-12 Cuc. Cuc is one of Cuba's currency. If you have the locals buy the wifi card for you it will cost you about 2-3 Cuc and that's what I did. Each wifi card will allow you online for an hour. Once you have possession of the wifi card you will need a wifi spot. These spots are limited in Havana. You can always tell a wifi spot because you will see everyone on their phones lol
Food - I was warned by several of my friends before going to Cuba that the food sucks and I would have to agree with them. Being a Jamaican I'm use to certain spices, flavor, and seasoning. The food in Cuba was lacking in all those areas. Cuban food in Miami is ten times better than in Cuba. Their food is very bland so if you're from the caribbean you may want to walk with your own hot sauce or seasoning to give the food some flavor lol. I ate at one restaurant that was nice and it was called Los Nardos. It's one of the best restaurants in Havana and I strongly suggest checking it out. If you get there too late in the evening/night you may have to stand outside for 30mins before you can get in and possibly more wait time once you do get inside but I'm glad we waited. The portion sizes were huge, the food was cheap. It was six of us and we all had full course meals with drinks and a few other items and the bill came up to about 62 cuc. It's located across the street from the Capitolio with a very nice atmosphere and ambiance.
Safety - Is it safe in Cuba? Yes I felt very safe while there. The heat will more likely do harm to you than anyone. It's very hot in Cuba so dress accordingly.
Currency - The main currency for tourist is Cuc which is about one to one exchange rate I believe. The issue is they charge you about 13% to change the American dollar. So if you can get Pounds or Euro you are better off with that.
Things to do - Take a stroll along the Malecon. It's one of the best places to people watch in Cuba. The Malecon extends for nearly eight kilometers and a nice place to watch the sun set. Sample their local rum. Go for a ride in a classic car. A decent price for an hour is about 30 Cuc or feel free to negotiate a lower price but never settle for the first price they give you. For 30 cuc you can fit about 4-5 of your friends in the car. Visit the Colon cemetery. There is a 8 cuc charge to enter for tourist. I have never been charged to enter a cemetery before and wasn't planning to start now so we snuck off without paying on our own. Very interesting site to visit if you have the time.
When I was leaving Cuba, I had the pleasure of meeting Rene who was my taxi driver and it was very nice to chat with him. My friends who left a day before me and the pleasure of chatting with him as well and they also spoke highly of him. I wish I met him when I first got to Cuba. If you are heading to Cuba and need a ride to and from the airport in the Havana area feel free to contact Rene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 78338659 The taxi company is called Shalom. Again very nice dude.
I'm glad I got the chance to experience Cuba and I would go back but just not in any rush lol. If you have any questions for me regarding Cuba feel free to ask in the comment or email me. Hope you enjoy the video highlight as well.