Here are 14 of the beaten track things to do in Cuba that make you come home with a different story than your friends:
1 Give people a lift
Your car rental company tells you not to, but this is very safe and fun. Don’t take two men or a man alone. Go for couples, students or women. Just make sure there is nothing in the back of the car you are not willing to lose.
2 Take your hitchhikers home
They don’t live next to the road. Taking them to their homes will show you the real Cuba, and you will get the worst coffee in your life in return. But believe us, nothing compares to this coffee in human warmth. Enjoy the company of grateful friends and bring out tip # 8.
3 Go to a baseball game
Cubans go nuts about la pelota. Stadiums are packed, and the atmosphere is great. You will be probably the only foreigner in the whole stadium! Don’t take too much money (see the chapter about money, entrance will cost you one mn as will peanuts… bring your booze)… Make friends and enjoy (bring more booze)
4 Close the Lonely Planet to find things to do in Cuba.
Don’t throw it away, it might come in handy later but just don’t look at it. It is widely known among the seasoned Cuba travellers as one of the worst LPs… Ever… We wonder if the writers ever set foot on the island. They claim they did… 3 weeks!!!
The LP is responsible for herds of individual tourists piling on the same terrace to drink the same Mojito enjoying the same view… Just because it says so in the LP… I buy it every year, just to find out where NOT to go… All places mentioned are dumps within a few months. So take the LP if you are looking for 10 things not to do in Cuba…
Just close the damn thing and discover Cuba
5 Get off the beaten path.
The beaten path in Cuba is easily recognised. It is full of tourists in ugly shorts and ditto sandals wearing stupid hats. I never understood the urge of people to dress badly on their holiday. If you leave the sandal street and take two streets to the right, you are in Cuba and not anymore in the Disneyficated tourist trap. A game to play in Old Havana… If you spot sandals… turn right or left… It will lead you to unexplored parts of town
6 Dress appropriately
You will never see a grown Cuban man in shorts. At least not the educated ones. If you dress appropriately, you will be better accepted when you’re off the path of #5. By not wearing your cargo pants you show respect for the Cuban culture, and thus they will accept you as a human being instead of treating you like an ATM. Know how to handle a jinetero.
7 Initiate contact
Once dressed normally and strolling off the beaten track, reach out to people. Anybody that initiates contact on the streets wants something from you… We devoted a whole chapter on all the tricks Cubans pull to separate you from your money. So start talking with people that don’t take the initiative… They make a much better company.
8 Rum (always carry a bottle in Cuba)
Always carry a (small) bottle of rum. Just get it out of your bag if you’re enjoying the company. Before you know it you have a party! And Cubans do know how to party!
9 Don’t be afraid
Cuba is safe, very safe. Nobody will harm you. The worst thing that can happen is a bit of intimidation but that never hurts. So feel safe because you are safe. If you feel safe you are open to new experiences. If a hustler whispers “Cohiba?” go with him. NOT to buy the cigars (they are fake and made from banana leaves or at least inferior) but for the adventure to be taken around town to find the cigars he promised… You will end up in a little room on the third floor of a run-down building, and that is the purpose. And you are safe so don’t worry.
10 Spot the ‘bad’ Cubans
It is easy. A Cuban you better not deal with looks like a Cuban you don’t want to deal with. A lot of gold, new sneakers, a watch (working), tattoos, sunglasses and a cell phone should tip you off. How do you think he got all that? He’s ripping off dumb tourists… It’s your turn if you want! So just ignore him… No… really! Just spot them, keep them out of your life.
We always try to deliver more than expected… so instead of only 10 things to do in Cuba we give you three more… 🙂
11 Donate pens to a school.
Just walk in with a bundle of pens and make the teachers happy… They are always looking for writing material! This will make a great excursion just like tip number 12.
12 Fake an illness
Or get yourself a blister. Walk into any hospital (outside of Havana) and ask for a consult with a medic. Enjoy this excursion into the Cuban Healthcare system. You will be amazed.
13 Read CubaConga
Our eBook is designed as a game and teaches you a lot about Cuba that you can’t find in other places. It is underground and fun. Read it plz… We’ll give you at least 50 other things to do in Cuba! This is not a thing to do in Cuba… you should do this before you go! As a bonus tip, we’ll save you a few hours upon arrival HERE.
14 Moneda Nacional Day
Declare a Moneda Nacional Day. Only spent MN. CUC’s are off limit. Live and spent like a Cuban. (Buy water the day before!). Understand the double currency hoax.
15 Don’t do a drug deal
Lots of people want to sell you cigars on the street. The wise thing to do is ignore them (when did you last bought a fridge from somebody that whispered in the street: ‘wanna buy a fridge?’. Well say ‘YES’ and go to an illegal drugs (cigars) house. Don’t buy them! It’s about the experience… don’t worry… you are safe!