Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Visiting Cuba for the First Time

Everyone in Canada needs a break from our (seemingly) never ending winter.

I was of the type who takes vacations to sight-see and discover new cities, but this winter my family decided to take a sunny vacation.

We were not alone; Canadians do it by the hundreds of thousands. After debating for some time, we decided on Cuba.

Why Cuba? a) it was cheaper than other sun vacations b) it was a short flight away c) it had all inclusive so we didn't need to worry about restaurants etc.

People had warned me about the food in Cuba but our resort had really great food. My family eats zabiha halal only so we stuck to seafood and veggies, and there were LOTS of options.


None of the food was labelled, however, and for vegetarians there is always risk of cross contamination with meat as same spoons/ladles were sometimes used at the buffet line for meat / non meat items. Even the guy making eggs during breakfast used the same dish for bacon and meat omelettes as for veg omelettes.



Seafood was fresh and really tasty, and often grilled right in front of you. For the very strict observant folks, there will always be issues of cross contamination, but you have to overlook that.

The beach was really good.

White sands, blue water.


The sun shone brightly. People at the resort (mostly Canadians, many of them returnees) told us this year it was colder in Cuba than it usually is - but we got lucky.

Every day we had 26 degrees in the day. We went out on a couple of excursions and it was really comfortable.

At night time after sunset it got low (20c) so you may need a light windbreaker for the kids. I was in my T-shirt and shorts all day.

We were also told that Cuban standards for hotels were really low. This was true - we booked a 5 star and it is really a 3 star anywhere else.

So if you want Western standards of hotels, Cuba may not be for you, but if you want an affordable sun destination close by, Cuba fits the bill. 53% of tourism in Cuba comes from Canadians. Overall we had a good stay, but I felt Cuba must improve certain things for a much better experience if they want to get a larger share of the tourism market.

For example, on our first night the toilet didn't work from the very beginning and we had to call the plumber three times (the last time he finally came with proper tools and did an OK job). After that the rest of the stay there were no toilet issues. It wasn't a good check in experience after a flight to be honest. Moreover, the light circuits malfunctioned throughout our stay (there were some loose circuitry). It didn't bother us much but it is definitely something you don't want in a hotel on a holiday. Daily room cleaning was light, at best.


Where do YOU go for your sun destinations?

PS. Some people have asked me what to take to Cuba (due to it being a poorer country, and things being less available due to embargo etc.). Here is the list I used.


- toothpaste
- toothbrush
- mouthwash
- shaving kit
- lotion
- shampoo & conditioner
- kleenex (small box)
- toilet roll (1 roll, for emergencies)
- sunscreen (kids and adult)
- small first aid (band aid)
- small bath gel/body wash
- ladies sanitary products
- hand sanitizer
- baby powder

- Tylenol
- Advil
- Motrin
- Peptobismol
- Octavin
- MultiVitamins

 - Socks & Underwear (if you plan on wearing either!).
- Sandals.
- Sea Socks (good for Catamaran Trips and exploring the island).
- Baseball Caps.
- 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).

- Power adapter / converter
- multiplug
- camera battery charger
- cellphone charger
- cell phone
- camera

- Pen
- Duct tape
- Face cloth
- Scissor
- Copy of ALL paperwork
- Get Hepatitis shots prior to arriving in Cuba (see Health).
- Beach Towel
- Lemon (will have to see food regulations)
- Ziplock bags
- Lifestraw water filter?
- Torch