Tips on Staying Safe in Cuba

Traveling to Cuba has become easier in recent years but you may be wondering just how safe the island nation really is.

In a nutshell, yes! Cuba is a safe destination to visit and violent crime rarely occurs. However, that doesn’t mean Cuba is completely free from threats. From robberies to horrendous driving conditions, there are several things to be aware of when exploring Cuba.

Let’s look at the best tips on staying safe in Cuba so you have a drama-free vacation!

tips on staying safe in Cuba
Tips on staying safe in Cuba

Take Precaution Against Pickpockets

Cuba is not immune to petty theft, and pickpockets occur like in most destinations around the globe. The easiest way to safeguard yourself against robbery is to blend into the crowd as best as possible.

Although easier said than done, keeping a low profile attracts less attention and you’re less likely to encounter thieves.

Per usual, never store all your money in one pocket. It’s a good idea to divide your money in multiple places such as your wallet, zippered bag, inside your sock, and back at the hotel.

And never flaunt jewelry or other valuables in public. That easily makes you a target that stands out in the crowd.

Fortunately, muggings are a rarity and taking the normal safety measures will keep you safe in most instances.

Travel in Groups at Night

In general, it’s never a wise choice to walk around an unfamiliar place at night. The same is true for Cuba, especially in shady areas where there are very few people.

When exploring any area of Cuba at night, it’s better to go with a group of people and call a taxi to reach the destination. Whether you’re going with your travel party or a new group of friends, take no risks when going out at night.

A couple of areas to take extra precaution are central Havana and Santiago de Cuba but be aware of your surroundings wherever you decide to travel.

Be Aware of Scams

There are plenty of friendly, hospitable locals throughout Cuba but that doesn’t mean you should be naïve to potential scammers. Stay alert and keep your eyes peeled for any behavior that seems sketchy.

You’re likely to encounter the currency scam at some point during your travels due to Cuba’s confusing two currencies. Remember that the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) is 25 times the value of the CUP (Cuban National Peso), and it will be easier to avoid this scam.

In addition, be on the lookout for unruly subjects posing as official tour guides. Not only will you lose money, going with an unofficial guide can put your safety at risk.

Skip the Car Rental

Renting a car in Cuba can be an expensive endeavor and a sure-fire way to get a heart attack. Not only are the roads littered with potholes, but road signs and traffic lights are also scarce.

This makes driving in Cuba a risky adventure, and you’ll be better off relying on public transportation. There is an extensive network of buses and taxis whose drivers are much more familiar with road conditions.

Avoid Talking Politics

Being one of the last communist nations, Cuba’s visitors are naturally curious about what the locals think about their government. However, this can be a sensitive topic for some residents and it’s not wise to initiate a political conversation.

Travelers may not be aware of the potential repercussions for locals speaking out against the government. Steering clear of political debates is recommended to avoid causing any potential conflict.

Be Mindful of the Weather

Depending on which month you travel to Cuba, the weather can play a significant role in the safety of your trip.

Being in the Caribbean Sea, Cuba is vulnerable to Atlantic Ocean hurricanes for nearly half the year. If you’re going to be in Cuba between June and November, you must remain updated on hurricane alerts.

Warnings are posted well in advance, and simply watching the weather forecast can be a lifesaver. There are still plenty of Cuba tours that operate during hurricane season, but be aware that the itinerary could change at a moment’s notice.

Also, protect yourself from torrential rainfall or brutal heat that comes with life on a Caribbean island. Cuba has a distinct rainy season from May to October and it’s not uncommon to see intense downpours.

This period coincides with the summer and temperatures can be extremely high. Staying hydrated is imperative to protect yourself from the sweltering heat and humidity.

Don’t Drink the Tap Water

Like other countries, tap water in Cuba may contain bacteria your body is not familiar with. This can cause serious discomfort during your trip and knock you off your feet for days.

Have Adequate Travel Insurance

It’s never advisable to travel anywhere without the proper insurance, and you want to make sure you have access to healthcare in the event of an emergency.

Whether you’re in an automobile accident or get sick, rest assured you’ll be cared for while traveling in Cuba.

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