The Adventure Team Takes on Cuba

  • Kelsey Tharp
Oct 12, 2018

Cuba is known for a few things: cigars, pristine beaches and — of course — it’s hard to understand travel restrictions. 

Despite the confusion, bilingual policy administrator for Seven Corners, Heather Kleinschmidt successfully navigated the new visa requirements and visited the island nation using a “supporting Cuban people visa.” 

“During my entire visit, I stayed with local Cuban families that welcomed me into their homes, taught me their culture and customs, and best of all, allowed me to sample their great variety of foods,” says Kleinschmidt.

Heather-poses-with-Cubans

To qualify for this visa, like Kleinschmidt, you need to put together a detailed trip itinerary to prove your trip will support Cubans. If you’re planning to sleep on the beach for two weeks, your visa application will likely be rejected. The goal is demonstrating how you and your travel companions will be investing in local communities. This could include staying in casas particulares (Cuban Air BnBs) and eating at paladares (private restaurants), touring cigar factories or birdwatching with a local guide. Though the parameters are strict, there’s still a lot of flexibility in what you can do.

If this process sounds overwhelming, you can hire a local to plan your trip for you. Their expertise and knowledge can help you experience an unforgettable vacation.

The “supporting Cuban people visa” may the most popular option, it isn’t the only way travel to Cuba. There are 11 other visa categories such as family visits or humanitarian projects that you can apply for as well.  

Though you may have to jump through a hoop or two to get there, traveling to Cuba is worth it. 

“It truly felt like going back in time — everyone was driving classic cars from the 40s and 50s; adults and children could be found playing together in the street at all hours of the day. Cuba is a gorgeous country and I can’t wait to go back to explore it more,” says Kleinschmidt.

Heather-on-beach-with-Cubans

The popularity of older cars stems from an import ban put in place by the U.S. after the Cuban Revolution. This ban made it difficult for Cubans to obtain new cars, meaning they had to maintain what was available. You’ll see vehicles ranging from just-off-the-line perfection to models held together by various metal pieces. 

One important detail about Cuban travel is the slow, spotty internet, which also seems to be from another era. 

“Internet in Cuba is not as accessible as in other countries, which made it a great adventure when trying to get from one place to another without access to things like MapQuest or TripAdvisor. The locals, however, were so wonderful, always willing to help with directions and suggestions,” says Kleinschmidt.

The internet can still be accessed, but it’s a very cumbersome process. Paid wi-fi hot spots and internet scratch-off cards are available, but taxing to come by. After you get online, it can still be painfully slow. So, don’t expect to Snapchat your Cuba trip for all of your friends — you’ll have to wait a few weeks before sharing your memories with them. 

About the Author

Kelsey Tharp

Kelsey Tharp is a content marketing specialist with Seven Corners. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing, spending time with friends and daydreaming about her next vacation. At home, she’s surrounded by her dog and three cats pretty much at all times.

Read more of Kelsey’s blogs

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