Cuba: A comprehensive Packing List

Embarking on our first trip to Cuba was an exhilarating experience, fueled by a passion for adventure and a deep curiosity about this island nation’s rich culture and landscapes. Our journey wasn’t just any vacation; it was a retreat designed for climbers, slackliners, acroyogis, yogis, and handstand enthusiasts. Given Cuba’s unique political and socio-economical position, we were fully aware that our trip would present a unique set of challenges. However, with meticulous preparation, our journey turned into a resounding success, allowing us to immerse fully in the stunning beauty and warmth of Cuban hospitality.

Cuba, with its vibrant streets, breathtaking natural beauty, and the rhythm of salsa echoing through its alleys, offers an unforgettable experience. However, the U.S. embargo against Cuba can make the trip somewhat daunting for travelers due to restrictions on certain goods and financial transactions. This makes thorough preparation not just beneficial but essential for ensuring a seamless and enjoyable visit.

Based on our experience, here is a comprehensive guide to packing for Cuba, tailored for those who share our love for adventure and movement arts. This list is designed to help you navigate the challenges and ensure that once you arrive, your focus can be on exploring the beauty of Cuba, rather than worrying about what you might have left behind.

Traveling to Cuba

Yes, it is indeed possible to travel to Cuba with a U.S. passport. As of the time of writing this, there are direct flights available from Miami and Houston to Cuba, simplifying the journey for U.S. travelers interested in exploring the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of this island nation. The relationship between the United States and Cuba has experienced various levels of restrictions and openings over the years, with significant changes impacting travel regulations.

However, in December 2014, the U.S. government announced a significant shift in policy, moving towards normalizing relations with Cuba. This policy change under the Obama administration marked the beginning of eased restrictions, allowing for more flexible travel opportunities for American citizens. Despite subsequent administrations tightening or adjusting these policies, travel to Cuba remains possible under specific conditions.

Packing List

Travel Documents

  • Passport

    Travelers must have a valid passport to enter Cuba. The passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your planned return.

  • Cuban Tourist Card (Visa)

    U.S. travelers need a Cuban Tourist Card to enter the country. This card is generally valid for a single entry and allows you to stay in Cuba for 30 days, which can be extended for another 30 days at the discretion of Cuban immigration authorities. Tourist Cards can be obtained through Cuban embassies or consulates, some airlines, and travel agencies specializing in Cuba travel.

  • D'Viajeros Travel Form

    This form can only be completed once you are within 48 hours from departure to Cuba. Upon filling out the necessary electronic forms, travelers are provided with a confirmation code. It is imperative to present this code as part of the check-in procedure, as airlines mandate its verification before allowing passengers to board their Cuba-bound flights.

  • Health Insurance

    Cuba requires all visitors to have health insurance that covers the territory of Cuba. Travelers should ensure their policy is accepted in Cuba; otherwise, they may need to purchase a Cuban health insurance policy upon arrival. Most airlines add this insurance to their ticket flight. But don't take our word for it, read the find print and if they do, keep your boarding pass in a safe location as proof of insurance.

  • Travel Insurance that Cover Extreme Sports

    Opting for Travel Insurance that covers Extreme Sports is in our opinion crucial for any trip, even in Cuba. Despite lower hospital costs in areas outside the USA, the key benefit lies in quick access to specialized care or medical evacuation in emergencies. In addition, travel insurance not only covers medical treatments but also addresses trip cancellations and equipment issues, ensuring a worry-free adventure.

    Having travel insurance brings unparalleled peace of mind, something we've personally valued during past trips. Knowing you're covered allows you to enjoy your adventures without fretting over potential costs. Hey, we often joke, fxxx it, we purchased travel insurance!

    For those worried about paying for something you will not likely use, remember, not needing to claim insurance is actually a positive thing! The real worth of travel insurance is the security and freedom it grants, letting you focus on the thrill of the climb, surf, or even the drive there.

    You can search for extreme sports travel insurance following this link.


  • Cash

    Unlike many other destinations, Cuba's unique situation requires a bit more financial forethought and planning. Cash is king as U.S. credit and debit cards generally do not work in Cuba, so it's important to bring enough cash to cover your expenses.

    You will be able to pay with US dollars, Euros and Canadian dollars pretty much anywhere you go. However the exchange rate for each transaction will vary. Locals often use the same exchange for USD and Euros, which can make a significant difference if you are exchanging a lot or cash. It helps you can show the current exchange rate will making your transactions. Make sure to bookmark the official exchange rate website so you can verify the exchange rate before accepting a rate.

    Depending on when you go, you may want to only exchange a small portion of your cash, as some locations only accept foreign currency. In general, the airport will give you the worst exchange rate. So avoid changing money there!

    You can plan to exchange a small amount of money with your taxi driver. Taxi drivers will take most currencies and will offer to exchange money for a competitive rate. Walk around asking for the rate and be ready to mention the official rate listed on the website. Just make sure to ask around for a bit before settling on a taxi.

    We found the best exchange rates were giving outside tourist areas. During our visit, the 'casas' in Havana were offering a 250 exchange rate, 270 in Viñales. But on Guanamo we go up to 290 Cuban Pesos (CUP) per dollar. As to avoid confusion, know that Cubans may also express CUP as MN which means Moneda National (national currency) and is the same as CUP.

    With that in mind, make sure to bring a good amount of small notes $1, $5, $10, $20, in addition to $100 bills. All your bills need to be in pristine condition, as some places will not accept bills with smudges, cuts and writing on it.

    How much money to bring with you? It all depends on how you travel! A good rule of thumb is to bring as much cash as you will spend per day in the states. We did this, and found it was a bit much for us. But we eat and stayed mainly in local places. Any time we eat at a more tourist location, our USA daily budget was pretty spot on.

  • Safety Bag or Box

    Since you will be carrying a substantial amount of cash during your trip, we suggest you invest in a secure travel safety bag or box. While Cuba is recognized for its general safety, why take a risk? Products from PacSafe offer reliable solutions, such as their anti-theft backpacks, cross-body bags, and portable safes, all designed with advanced security features to protect your valuables.


  • Unlocked Cellphone & Extra Charging Cables

    Do not fall for your USA carrier $10 per day international plans! Instead, preorder a SIM card through . You can order it prior to your departure, or you will have to pre-order at the airport while using your 30 min free wifi access.

    Either way you will be picking up your SIM card at baggage claim. So save yourself some time ab order it ahead of time. We had enough time to pick up our SIM card while waiting for our luggage.

    As an added advantage, accepts U.S. credit cards, making the transaction very straightforward. At the time of our visit, the cost for a SIM card was 35 USD for 10 GB. A very cost-effective solution for staying connected throughout our trip in Cuba.

  • External Batteries & Power Banks

    Inevitably, you may experience power outages at various points during your trip. To stay prepared, it's essential to bring a battery pack. However, for it to be airplane safe, ensure that it is smaller than 100 watt-hours (Wh). Most airlines allow battery packs in carry-on luggage within this capacity without requiring prior approval. For larger batteries, up to 160 Wh, specific airline approval might be necessary.

  • Universal Travel Adapter

    In Cuba, the power plugs and sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 110 V, and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. This is the same plug system used in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, among other countries.

  • Headlamp

    Headlamps prove incredibly useful not only during unexpected power outages but also while navigating at night. The streets, even within the city, are poorly illuminated. Having a bright, rechargeable headlamp allowed us to walk home feeling both safe and at ease.


Drinking Water & Other Drinks

Other Food

Things to Leave In Cuba

It’s almost a tradition among travelers to bring items to leave behind in Cuba, a gesture that speaks to the spirit of generosity and international camaraderie. However, before you start packing random items, it’s crucial to consider the impact of what you’re bringing. Cuba should not be viewed as a place to offload unwanted items or used as a garbage disposal unit. Instead, focus on bringing items that still have plenty of life left in them and can genuinely benefit the recipients.

If you have local contacts or connections within the communities you plan to visit, reach out to them beforehand to inquire about specific needs. This ensures that your contributions are both meaningful and useful.

Want not to bring to Cuba

When visiting Cuba, there are specific items you should avoid packing due to either Cuban customs regulations or because they might not be necessary or appropriate. Here’s a list of items you should not pack:

Can you Bring Cigars and Alcohol from Cuba back to the USA?

The truth is, it’s hard to pin down a clear answer. Official rules on bringing cigars, tabacco and alcohol into the USA from abroad seem to shift often, and during our travels, the enforcement appeared hit or miss. Some of our friends breezed through customs without a hitch, while others weren’t as lucky and had their items taken away. It really seemed to depend on the day and the customs agent you encountered.

Despite the U.S. Customs and Border Protection guidelines at the time of our travel, which allowed for less than 50 cigars and 1 liter of alcoholic beverages per person, the actual enforcement seemed to vary significantly from one day to the next and from one customs agent to another.

Given the variability in customs enforcement, it’s wise to prepare for the possibility of having to part with some of your items. Embracing a mindset of non-attachment can make this process less disappointing. Remember, the joy of travel lies in the experiences rather than the souvenirs. So, while it’s great to bring back mementos, being ready to let go if necessary can be part of the journey’s adventure.

Want to Join Our Next Retreat in Cuba?

Don’t forget to regularly check our event page and Earth Play Retreats for updates, as we’re currently in the process of planning our 2025 trip. It’s shaping up to be an adventure you won’t want to miss.

In the meantime, why not join us for some climbing, surfing, slack and acro in Puerto Rico? It’s a fantastic opportunity to hone your skills, enjoy breathtaking scenery, and spend time with like-minded individuals. We’re looking forward to sharing this experience with you and building excitement for what’s to come!

Upcoming Events

May 2024
June 2024
July 2024
December 2024
February 2025
No event found!