Home » Yes, we offer Cuba trips for Americans. Here’s the deal.

Yes, we offer Cuba trips for Americans. Here’s the deal.

written by Intrepid Travel June 3, 2018
cuba trips for americans havana

If you’re an American who thought you’d never be able to get to Cuba, it’s time to think again. Regular tourism for U.S. citizens to Cuba is still prohibited, but we run Cuba trips for Americans that are as legal as they are awesome.

Since 2015, we have been offering a special trip to Cuba that allows Americans to see one of the world’s last remaining communist states with their own eyes. No, we haven’t lifted the travel ban that’s been in place since the 1960s (we’re good, but we’re not that good), but we have been working hard, within the law, to put together an itinerary that everyone – including the U.S. and Cuban governments – are happy with. And we’ve gone and done just that.

Our Hola Cuba – People to People trip is authorized to provide travelers with an educational exchange in Cuba. The trip involves a full-time schedule of people-to-people (P2P) educational exchange activities, which will result in meaningful, real interactions between you and the Cuban locals. You’ll learn more about Cuba during this trip than you will watching Fox News, that’s for sure. And we’ve been taking travelers from all over the world to Cuba for more than a decade, so we know our stuff.

We’re sure you have questions. Allow us to try and answer them before you ask them:

Has the U.S. government recently changed the restrictions for Americans traveling to Cuba?

Under the Obama administration, restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba were eased. Americans could travel to Cuba both independently or as a part of a group if they met the people-to-people criteria. However, President Trump’s new restrictions mean that independent travel has been banned, and travelers to Cuba must be a part of a Treasury-licensed tour. Luckily for you, our Hola Cuba trip still meets the requirements for a legal, people-to-people exchange trip.

RELATED READ: HOW THE NEW U.S. POLICY CHANGES AFFECT AMERICAN TRAVEL TO CUBA

cuba trips for americans havana with leader

An Intrepid Travel group with their local leader in Havana

Other companies already do this. What’s so special about the Intrepid itinerary?

Just as on any other Intrepid trip, you’ll be guided through the country by a local leader. Who better to answer your questions about what life is really like in Cuba than someone who has lived and worked there their whole life? Additionally, true to our style of travel, Intrepid travelers on the Hola Cuba trip will be staying in locally-run guesthouses. This means you’ll be immersed in Cuban life from the moment you wake until the moment your head hits the pillow.

Some of the incredible and immersive activities you’ll take part in include visiting the amazing Korimakao music and art center, learning how to roll cigars from a tobacco farmer, watching an extra-special cooking class that enables you to delve into the deliciousness of Cuban cuisine, touring the reforested land and eco-community of Las Terrazas, and learning to dance to salsa music and traditional Afro-Caribbean beats in Trinidad.

In short, the Intrepid difference will help you understand, explore and discover as much about local Cuban life as is possible during your time in the country.

READ MORE: WHAT TRAVELING TO CUBA TAUGHT ME ABOUT LIVING LIFE TO THE FULLEST

There’s got to be a catch, right?

Not really. You won’t be in Cuba as a ‘tourist’, rather you will be part of an educational exchange and must participate in all activities of the program. But it’s not like going back to school or being lectured by a tour guide carrying a giant flag. These educational and cultural exchanges are much like those you may have experienced on Intrepid trips in other destinations. This itinerary just provides more of them.

Besides, if you want to go to Cuba, you’ve got to play by the rules. By not participating in the scheduled activities, you may be individually liable for criminal or civil penalties. And we don’t want to get in trouble with the U.S. government. Neither do you.

READ MORE: WHAT TO EXPECT ON ‘HOLA CUBA’ FROM AMERICANS WHO HAVE BEEN ON THE TRIP

cuba trips for americans vinales

An Intrepid Traveler enjoying Vinales, Cuba

Will I be able to use my credit card or debit card in Cuba?

That all depends on your financial institution. While U.S. financial institutions are now permitted to process credit card and debit card transactions in Cuba related to authorized travel expenses, currently most U.S. financial institutions and Cuban vendors are not set up to process such transactions. There are ATMs throughout Cuba (although access may be limited in rural areas) and it is tricky to access funds electronically. We recommend reaching out to your financial institution to check if your credit or debit card will work in Cuba.

We highly recommend you take enough cash along with you for the duration of the trip. American dollars can be exchanged for Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) at the airport or banks throughout the country. If you need a guideline for how much cash to bring, prices in Cuba are similar to those in the U.S.

Can I buy things in Cuba and take them back with me to the U.S.? And is there a limit to how much I can bring back?

Yes, you can, and no, there is no limit (provided that the merchandise imported is for personal use only). The previous restriction of $400 per person has been lifted. That means you can bring back cigars, rum (if you’re over 21), paintings, pottery and whatever other souvenirs you please. For the most up-to-date information on importing Cuban goods, we recommend consulting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

RELATED READ: AMERICAN TRAVEL TO CUBA: Q&A WITH A LOCAL INTREPID GUIDE

cuba trips for americans trinidad

A bird’s-eye view of beautiful Trinidad, Cuba

Will my cell phone work in Cuba?

Short answer: probably not. Long answer: some U.S. carriers have begun making arrangements with Cuban telecommunications companies to offer roaming services in Cuba. However, at the moment, if you need to stay connected at all times, your best bet is to rent or buy a Cuban cell phone or SIM card.

READ ON: AN INTERVIEW WITH DADY, THE INTREPID LEADER CHANGING PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS OF CUBA

What about Internet access in Cuba?

Internet access is fairly limited in Cuba. In most towns and cities, there are several public Wi-Fi hotspots. If you really need to check your email or post that Instagram, you can purchase Wi-Fi cards for about 1-2 CUC per hour. Otherwise, we recommend using your trip as an opportunity to disconnect and relax.

This all sounds good. Where do I sign up?

You can book the Hola Cuba – People to People trip as you would any Intrepid itinerary. Payment must come directly from you to Intrepid, using any of our accepted forms of payment. Send us your payment details on carrier pigeon, if you like. Just make sure the pigeon is trustworthy.

You can’t make payment directly to a travel agent, but your travel agent may assist you in making the payment by mailing the check or providing Intrepid Travel with your credit card information.

More pre-trip reading:

Intrepid Travel has been running legal Cuba trips for Americans for several years now, so it’s safe to say we know a lot about the topic. Here are a few more blogs filled with stories from real travelers, as well as tips and advice for your Cuba trip.

Ready to travel to Cuba? Read more about our Hola Cuba trip.
Not a U.S. citizen? Explore all our Cuba trips. 

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21 comments

Robin Renteria December 11, 2018 - 1:24 am

My husband was born in Cuba (1953) and has been a US citizen since 1962. We live in Spain now. I am a US citizen, too. We would like to travel to Cuba to visit family there he as never met and to learn more about the country. Can you provide a trip from Spain in which we have the flexibility to visit his family in Cienfuegos and in Havana, and more?

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Nima Dan September 20, 2015 - 1:18 am

Pls inform about the cost of the trip for US citizens

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James Shackell September 21, 2015 - 10:32 am Reply
Mary May 5, 2015 - 9:36 am

I’m a U.S. citizen living in Australia. I would want to travel with my Australian husband. Could we do the “Hola Cuba” tour?

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Intrepid Admin May 6, 2015 - 2:25 pm

Hey Mary – that should be fine, yes. Give our consultants a call on 1300 797 010 (in Australia) and they’ll be able to talk you through your options in more detail.

Cheers!
Ollie

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Bronwyn May 4, 2015 - 11:32 pm

What do you mean by there are no ATMs in Cuba. That’s how I got most of my money over there!

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Intrepid Admin May 6, 2015 - 2:28 pm

Good spotting Bronwyn – we’ve amended that now.

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Charlene Fordyce April 17, 2015 - 11:43 pm

Could not find any dates or the way to find the cost of the trip. Could you send me an itinerary with dates and price for this adventure?

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Intrepid Admin April 18, 2015 - 9:28 am

Hi Charlene,

Thanks for getting in touch. All the information you need should be on this page: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/cuba-travel

Feel free to give us a call on 1 800 970 7299 if you’d like to talk!

Thanks,
Ollie

Reply
jasguild April 17, 2015 - 7:10 am

Any idea about the cost and how to actually get to cuba from say Florida?

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Intrepid Admin April 17, 2015 - 9:49 am

Hi Jas – another reader asked about flights, so I’ll tell you the same as I told them!

There are several ways to get there. Copa Airlines offers through flights via Panama City; several charter airlines operate from Miami; and travel through a third country is also an option. It is likely additional air options will open up in the near future. Feel free to give us a call for more information – we’d be happy to help!

Thanks,
Mandy

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Daniela Piffer April 17, 2015 - 6:10 am

it would be nice if you got in touch with the people and not just visit as a tourist

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Intrepid Admin April 17, 2015 - 3:31 pm

Hey Daniella,
Getting in touch with the locals is the whole purpose of this trip! We spend heaps of time meeting with and getting to know the locals. We spend time with teachers, students, farmers, dancers and more. This is the best way to spend time with locals and have a true cultural experience.
Cheers,
Mandy

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Jennifer April 17, 2015 - 5:26 am

Hi! If I booked this trip with Intrepid, how would I then book my flight to and from Havana? I could not find this information in the trip notes.

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Intrepid Admin April 17, 2015 - 9:48 am

Hi Jennifer!

Airfare to and from Havana is not included in the price of the trip, but there are several ways to get there. Copa Airlines offers through flights via Panama City; several charter airlines operate from Miami; and travel through a third country is also an option. It is likely additional air options will open up in the near future. Feel free to give us a call for more information – we’d be happy to help!

Thanks,
Mandy

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catfriend April 17, 2015 - 4:11 am

At well over $ 300 per day, not including airfare, it doesn’t seem like much of a deal to me. Looking at your other Cuba trips, the price of this one is out of line. I’d like to visit Cuba, but I’m not that desperate.

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Intrepid Admin April 17, 2015 - 10:00 am

Hey!

The reason the price is higher than our other Cuba trips is due to the number of inclusions. Traveling under the People to People requirements means we must provide a full time schedule of educational and cultural activities for the entire visit to Cuba. This trip includes full activities for every day of the trip, as well as meals. For example: 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners, orientation walks, museum visits, cooking class, organic farm and tobacco farm tour, Korimakao visit, dance lesson, waterfall hike and more. All of the activities are included in the trip price and paid for up front. Other trips provide optional activities that are paid locally. I hope that clears things up.

If you want further clarification, shoot through your email address and I can send you a breakdown comparison between this trip and one of our regular Cuba trips.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions, we’re happy to help.

Cheers!

Mandy

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Tonya April 17, 2015 - 3:54 am

What’s the minimum/recommended age requirement for this trip? I would love to go with my 8 year-old. Will you be offering family groups for US travel to Cuba in the future?

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Intrepid Admin April 17, 2015 - 9:48 am

Hi Tonya!

The minimum age for this trip is 15. At the moment, this is the only legal trip we have for US Citizens this year. I am hopeful we will be able to create a family trip in the future.

One idea: if you can grab a large enough group of people (a minimum of eight travelers) we can look at putting together a Private Group version of this trip, in which case you could take your 8-year old. You can reach our Private Groups team on 1-855-394-3021 for more information. Thanks!

Mandy

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alex Nunn April 10, 2015 - 9:25 am

please send me details and costs of hola cuba people to people tour…can i book and pay flight centre travel company in australia……land costs only as we could be in Lima and it is only 5.15 hours to Havana

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Intrepid Admin April 13, 2015 - 2:33 pm

Hi Alex,

All of the information for the US citizen people-to-people Cuba trip is here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/cuba/hola-cuba-people-people-us-citizens-92975

Are you a US citizen? If not, you’ll be better off taking a look over our regular Cuba itineraries, and saving a spot on the people-to-people trip for US citizens, for whom it’s the only way for them to get to Cuba! Our regular itineraries can be found here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/cuba

Thanks!

Reply

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