14 things to do in Cuba

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

to do in Cuba
Take a hitchhiker 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.

Cuba of the beaten path
Of 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.

students in Cuba
students in Cuba

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

Hospital Cuba
a hospital in Cuba

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!

Cuba Map

A different map for Cuba

Going to Cuba? Looking for a map? This is the best map we know and an offline version for your phone can be downloaded here: https://maps.me/

Here’s an entirely different Cuba map for you. It is a book called CubaConga.

This is the map of the mentality in Cuba. We think that it is essential to understand the people, mentality and culture so to help you, we wrote this politically incorrect alternative travel guide.

It is a map for manoeuvring Cuba and avoiding trouble.

The map is not the territory.

map cuba
This is just a map of Cuba

So we don’t pretend to understand Cuba. On the other hand, we are quite sure we know Cuba better, much better than you do.

Due to our extensive travel experience in Cuba, we have developed an understanding of this tropical working man’s paradise and wanted to share this with you so that you can make the most of your stay. And believe us, you need more than just a map for that.

Mental map

Thanks to the mental map of the Cubans, which differs from yours, Cuba is a fascinating country to visit. Nothing is like you perceive it at the first impression. We pretend we can help you understand more, make fewer mistakes and save loads of money with our book. (If you do not agree, we will refund you). Our book is a fun read on top of that.

If you are looking for a physical map, which you would need if you rent a car (we recommend you do so!) If you want a taste of our book, you can read a bit here.

In total, our book took over 39 months of research, and we enjoyed every moment of it. You can now reap the fruits of our hard work.

Not on any Cuban map

It is important for us and even more so for the people we know to stay anonymous. Just for their protection. That’s why nobody wrote this book, nobody is hosting this site, and nobody can be linked to this site. We are off the map but on the spot.

On the ‘yes I want to read your book‘ page we’ll give you a tip that will save you a few hours at the airport.

Black market

The best market in Cuba is black

About 90% of the Cuban economy is unofficial. Official channels have a very limited offer on their shelves, the black market provides almost everything. This leads to an interesting error of judgment most tourists make. We think when we hear that the average salary is about 20 $ and something costs 10 $ that the average Cuban will have to work 15 days to buy it. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?

Well, thanks to the black market (la bolsa negra), things do not add up that way.

How to survive in Cuba

Our logic dictates that we go to work to earn money. That’s not the case in Cuba.

To live, Cubans in Havana need about 150-200 $ a month (outside Havana half that amount). If your salary is 15 and you need 200… you have to make some money on the side… The money you make “on the side” is your main income.

Black eggs
Black eggs

Every Cuban is forced to be active on the black market somehow. And they all are. This renders the “official salary” a useless way of measuring prices and spendable income. Real incomes are higher than you are told, and real prices are lower than you think.

Thanks to the black market in Cuba, people can survive, make money, buy goods and since this is not in the official statistics, we make a very wrong estimation of the real situation.

Not poor

Too manny people believe that the Cubans are poor and helpless… They are not! Rich Cubans exist. Poor Cubans too. Another myth is that all Cubans live of foreigners. Not true either, Cuban has it’s hidden economy and market.

Find the black market

For a tourist, this black market is sometimes hard to find. Yes, taking an illegal taxi is easy, but finding an iPad or a fish tank will be very hard for you… Cubans are always on the lookout for contacts that can supply them stuff or that can become customers for the stuff they happen to sell. Their networks are very efficient, and that makes for a very effective black market. To complicate things, not everything on the ‘informal’ market is black :-).

Read more about the stunning paradoxes that rule Cuba in our book… On this page we’ll give you a tip that will save you a few hours in Cuba.

Last updated July 2018

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Everybody operating la bolsa negra is a jinetero

Better not rent a Car