FAQ Cuba

Am I guaranteed to see a sea turtle or hatchling?

As with most wild animals, there is never a guarantee to see a sea turtle (they are endangered of course). However, we will be there during a high point of the green turtle nesting season, so you have a very good chance of seeing multiple turtles. Hatchlings are difficult to predict but there is a good chance to see them as well.

How does this trip benefit turtle conservation?

To participate in the work and stay at the research station, we pay a fee to the local partner which helps to cover the costs of the conservation and research efforts. In addition, the support provided by travelers helps to ensure that the beach is patrolled. Finally, every tour saves at least 500 hatchlings through a donation to the local conservation organization through our partner non-profit’s Billion Baby Turtles initiative.

Will I get to do every volunteer job on the trip?

We will try to give everyone the opportunity to try out the jobs they are interested in, including measuring, counting eggs, recording data, and other tasks. But we will be limited by the number of turtles that nest while we are there and the size of the group. First priority will be to have everyone do at least one job and then we can rotate jobs once everyone has had a turn. Check out the Sea Turtle Research page for details about the tasks involved in turtle research.

Logistical/Travel Issues

Do I need a Visa and what regulatory paperwork is required?

Cuban visas will be handled through your airlines when you make your reservation. There is an additional cost for that visa.
There is also a People to People license, for which we will provide you the documentation, to show upon return at U.S. Customs & Immigration.

How safe is Cuba?

Cuba is generally very safe for tourists, but petty crime is not uncommon. Use common sense and take precautions, especially at night. Along with the rise in tourism and the down-turn of the economy in the 90’s, an increase in hustlers and prostitutes has occurred. Hustlers or “jinateros” may be very pleasant and want anything from a dinner to marriage or a trip to the USA. Most Cubans would never approach you on the street without reason, so be sensitive of those who do. They are usually harmless.

How much money should I bring?

We recommend bringing at least $120 in cash for tips (for the guide and driver), optional activities, extra drinks (one drink per meal is included), souvenirs, going out on the town, and other expenses (some places charge for bathroom use for example). Diving costs roughly $40 per dive (equipment rental is $15), so keep that in mind if you plan to dive.

Where Can I Change Money?

The local currency is Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC’s) and the rate is 1 to 1, though the government takes a 13% fee, so the rate actually comes out to .87 cents to 1 CUC. The rate is the same throughout the country. Upon your arrival in Cuba, your guide will have US $200 in CUC’s so you don’t need to change money right away. You will be able to change money at banks and at the hotels as you need.

How much should I tip?

Many Cubans who work in the tourist industry depend on tips for their income. Don’t forget to set aside tip money for the guide and driver (we recommend per person $40-50 for the driver and $80-100 for the guide). Carry coins for restroom attendants. Restaurant and activity tips are included in the tour price though feel free to tip extra for great service. Also be sure to tip baggage handlers, maids. (1 or 2 CUC’s each).

Can I call home or check my email while in Cuba?

The cheapest way to call home from Cuba is to purchase a phone card at your hotel, and use public phones. Wifi is available at the hotels, but the connection can be weak. To get online, you can purchase internet cards at the hotels (2 CUC/hour).

Are the electrical outlets the same as in the US?

The voltage in Cuba is the same as the states, no adapter is needed.

How should I handle medications I need to bring?

If you plan to bring personal medicine to Cuba, please consider the following:

  • Carry just the necessary quantity, which is the quantity normally used by a person having your health problem.
  • Bring a prescription or a written statement from your doctor, specifying that the medicine is being used under their control and that you need it for your physical health.
  • Have the medicines labeled or properly identified.

Do I need any vaccinations before going?

Since we are not doctors, we cannot give you advice on vaccinations. We recommend speaking with your doctor or visiting a travel clinic. You can also check the CDC website for Cuba for the most up-to-date information.

What is the weather like in Cuba in June?

Cuba has a subtropical climate, characterized by moderately high temperatures throughout the year. Be sure to check the weather forecast before you pack and depart, so that you may adequately prepare for the weather. In the summer the temperature can reach as high as 90 or over. Average humidity is 78%, the influence of the northeastern trade winds result in a gentle sea breeze that reaches most parts of the island all year round.

There are only two differentiated seasons: the dry season (November to April) and the rainy season (May to October). Hurricanes take place (rarely) between June and November. Weather conditions are usually similar to those in southern Florida, so the weather reports for that area can provide you with an idea of what to expect.

What can I bring back to the US?

Under current US regulations, you are allowed to bring back a total of $100 worth of Cuban rum and cigars. There is no restriction for other types of souvenirs. Bringing products from wildlife may be restricted, so we don’t recommend purchasing anything made from wild animals.