Classic Cars, Rum, and Cigars | Cuba Unbound

Classic Cars, Rum, and Cigars

Trip Highlights

*Please note that the the following information is meant to provide a general overview of your tour. The specifics of your trip will be contained in a pre-trip letter you will receive prior to your confirmed departure.
 
MEETING PLACE:  Jose Marti International Airport, Havana
MEETING TIME: 11 AM on Day 1 
TRIP LENGTH:  5 Days
DEPARTING CITY: Havana
AGE LIMIT:  16 Years
TRIP TYPE:  Cultural

Sample Itinerary

DAY 0
This tour will begin in Havana at approximately 11:00 AM on Day 1. Our meeting point on Day 1 will be Havana's Jose Marti International Airport where your Tour Leader and local guides will meet you to begin your tour. If you are unable to fly all the way to Havana on Day 1 with an arrival before 11:00 AM, we recommend that you consider a "Day 0" for your tour and choose either of the following:
Travel to Havana on Day 0.  With this option, we recommend that you overnight in a casa particular (a private home with rooms for rent) of your choosing and make your way back to the Havana Airport to meet your Tour Leader, guides, and fellow travelers the next morning. 
Travel to Miami on Day 0.  With this option, we recommend that you overnight in Miami and take a flight to Havana on the morning of Day 1.  

DAY 1: HAVANA HOTSPOTS LA BODEGUITA DEL MEDIO, EL FLORIDITA, AND TROPICANA
“My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita”—Ernest Hemingway
Our tour leader will greet you at the Havana Airport and provide a brief orientation before you head out into Cuba’s most dynamic city. You’re picked up in Cuba’s iconic classic cars that will serve as your transportation for part of your trip. Roll down the windows, smell the mimosa sifting through the air, and hear the rumble of engines as we make our way to La Bodeguita del Medio.
La Bodeguita del Medio may translate to the unassuming name of “the little bar in the middle of the block,” but the restaurant and bar is anything but bland. La Bodeguita’s claim to fame lies in being one of Hemingway’s endorsed haunts where he discovered the mojito. The bar now serves double rum portions for the “Double Papa”—Hemingway’s specialty serving that leaves little doubt for the writer’s love of rum. Although the restaurant has a framed piece of parchment blazoned with Hemingway’s seal of approval and signature, stepping into La Bodeguita means you’ll be swilling some rum where Hemingway wasn’t the only famous patron. Joe DiMaggio, Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Francis Ford Copolla, Pablo Neruda, and Benny Moré also found their way here. The bar’s walls are slathered in autographs, centerfolds, and photographs—some from illustrious guests and some from simple passersby who want to make their mark.
After lunch and possibly a Double Papa, we stretch our legs with a walking tour of Habana Vieja. Colonial Havana’s colonnaded streets are as colorful as our cars. As you walk through a rainbow of pastels listen for rumba riffs rumbling down the cobbled streets and the sounds of people working behind walls of mystery. Our walking tour takes us to Habana Vieja’s historic district and the Havana Club Museum of Rum, which offers a real-time journey through the rum-making process—from the sugar-cane mill to the cooper shop where the aging casks are made to the tasting room.  We may also drop into Sloppy Joe’s, another favorite watering hole of Hemingway and recently restored to its former glory.
We will head to you accommodations for the night so that you can rest and prepare for a night out in the city. 
We pick you up in your classic car (or regular taxi if not available) and head out to one of Havana’s Paladares for a tasty dinner. Either before or after dinner, we’ll stop by another of Hemingway’s illustrious watering holes: El Floridita. Hemingway sat in a corner seat, drank daiquiris, and conceived then wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls there. Hemingway must have been a trend setter because the bar also saw visits from Ava Gardner, Tennessee Williams, Spencer Tracy, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Gary Cooper. Papa Hemingway remains their favorite, and his seat remains forever unoccupied and chained off. Hemingway drank here a lot and drank a lot here. Have a daiquiri and see if you feel some literary inspiration yourself.
We finish off our day of literature and libations with a trip to the legendary Tropicana. Set in the open Cuban sky, the decant night-club has retained the glamour and glitz over the years. Salsa shows and señorita showgirls survived the revolution and continue to set nights ablaze. Enjoy the performance and Havana’s most notorious nightlife spot before we return by taxi to our accommodations for the evening.

  • ACCOMODATIONS: Havana Hotel or Casa particular
  • MEALS INCLUDED: L,D

DAY 2: COJIMAR, ERNEST HEMINGWAY MUSEUM, AND FABRICA DE ARTE
Your guide picks you up in your Classic Car after breakfast to begin our day of all things Hemingway.  It’s a short drive east to the small fishing town of Cojimar, which inspired The Old Man and the Sea and saw frequent visits of Hemingway and his boat, Pilar. We walk through the town and stop at some of his favorite sundowner spots before joining our friends at El Ajiaco restaurant.  We visit the gardens where some of their vegetables and herbs are grown, then have a lesson in how to make a stunning mojito.  With our minds ablaze and stomachs prepped, we sit down for the best lunch in Cojimar.   
After lunch, we continue our exploration of Papa Hemingway’s Cuba as we make our way to his former estate at Finca Vigía and the recently renovated Museo de Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway lived in the Moorish-style home with his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, and wrote nine novels within its walls. Wander the rooms and the grounds of the estate and see where Hemingway lived his life as a man while writing novels that made him a legend.
After our tour, we return to Havana to visit a vintage car restoration garage. The garage brings nostalgia-laden classic cars back to their original comfort and elegance so that all guests can have the opportunity to travel back in time.
We return to our accommodations for a brief rest and for a chance to prepare for another fun-filled night in Havana.
We let the classic cars rest for the night and use regular Cuban taxi’s for an authentic experience. We pick you up from your accommodations and we are off to enjoy an authentic Cuban meal at one of Havana’s finest paladars before hitting the town for a night out. While the Tropicana might be Havana’s most iconic nightclub, the Fábrica de Arte Cubano is its most entrepreneurial. Not just a nightclub, Fábrica de Arte teems with artists and musicians who don’t simply entertain but press the boundaries of Cuban culture. Take in the sights, mix and converse with the locals, and move to the beat in this stunning performance space before returning to our accommodations for the evening. 

  • ACCOMODATIONS: Havana Hotels or Casa Particular 
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D

DAY 3: VALLEY DE VINALES AND PINAR DEL RIO
Boisterous Havana recedes into the bucolic countryside as we drive west in classic style, into one of Cuba’s most stunning landscapes: Valley de Viñales. Surrounded by the pine-clad hills of the Sierra de los Órganos, Valley de Viñales is a fantastical sprawl of lush green grass and limestone mogotes that rise precipitously from the hallowed ground. A maze of caves curve through the mountains and defined paths are a rare luxury in Cuba’s create-your-own-adventure playground. We explore the hidden sights of the valley flecked with tobacco farms before we head to a nearby organic farm for lunch. Meet with the people who tend the land, learn about organic agriculture in Cuba and sample their fresh, carefully cultivated produce.  We spend more time in the afternoon exploring the valley's beauty.  Later in the day we head to the nearby provincial capitol of Pinar del Rio and check into our classic hotel with Spanish Colonial architecture or another option.  We dine at one of the city's fine Paladars. 

  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Hotel Vueltabajo, Hotel Pinar del Rio or Casa Particular.
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D 

DAY 4: PINAR DEL RIO TOWN, FINCA DEL PINAR ROBAINA, RETURN TO HAVANA
After breakfast, we enjoy a walking tour of the town of Pinar del Rio.  We visit the Francisco Donatién Cigar Factory, housed in a former prison that was repurposed in the 1960s. Not a huge factory, there are 58 cigar rollers who artfully hand-roll cigars of the Trinidad brand, as well as Romeo y Julietas.  The workers appreciate our visit, with obvious pride in their pride in their work as we learn a bit of their lives and trade. If time and interest, we then saunter over to the Casa del Tobacco, near the Francisco Donatién Cigar Factory.  The store has a number of  historic cigar posters that show the long tradition of this economically and culturally important industry in Cuba. 
Cuba may be famous for its rum apéritifs, but locals have another favorite: Guayabita del Pinar. Growing in the Pinar del Río province is a plant with tiny guava berries called guayabitas. Infusing guayabita flavor with sugarcane liquor produced the Guayabita del Pinar liqueur, with dry and sweet varieties. Produced locally and limited in production, it’s a definite treat even more special for its rarity. It even has its own song—Cuban musician Cándido Fabré’s “Guayabita del Pinar” that you can appreciate as you sample the Cuban delicacy.  There is also opportunity, if desired, to explore other historic sites in the city.
From Pinar del Rio city, we head out to go see the source for the actual tobacco leaves.  We drive to into the countryside, to Finca del Pinar Robaina, whose founder, Alejandro Robaina, was considered “The Godfather” in the Cuban cigar business. The Godfather developed the farm that is now the world’s most renowned plot for growing cigar tobacco. Enjoy a lively, informative and personal tour of the farm, educational at heart, and marvel at the brilliant green panorama of tobacco plants plotted in neat rows, rustling in the wind. It’s the only tobacco zone which grows all types of leaf—wrappers, fillers, and binders—and we get to see the phases of production before sitting down at the plantation café for a delicious lunch and indulging in the creamy aroma of puros that saturates the air.
Our adventure continues as we cruise in style to Havana and enjoy the panorama on the way. We return to Habana Vieja’s cobbled streets and head to the Mercado San José. This crafts fair has a palpable soul with its handcrafted goods, colorful stalls, and cheerful vendors. It also features theatrical performances and art exhibitions—transforming the space from a market to a cultural center. It’s the perfect place to visit on our last full day on the island if you’re hoping to take a piece of Cuba with you!
After we drop off our souvenirs at our accommodations, we celebrate our final evening together in Cuba with a farewell dinner that features the best of Cuban dishes. Take a page from Hemingway’s book and sit down with a mojito or daiquiri Papa Hemingway style.

  • ACCOMMODATIONS: Casas Particulares or Havana Hotels 
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D

DAY 5: MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS AND ADIOS HAVANA!
If flight schedule allows time this morning, we visit the Museum of Fine Arts in central Havana (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana).  This fabulous museum has two impressive buildings.  One is dedicated to Cuban art and includes a wide range of subjects and styles.  The other is a divine European masters collection including originals by Goya, Murillo, Velasquez, Gainsborough, Rubens and various impressionists. The museum also houses one of the most important collections of Greek and Roman art in Latin America.
You also have the option of traveling to Miramar to visit La Casa del Habano—considered one of Cuba’s finest cigar stores. Tour the picturesque store and hopefully get a chance to talk to Carlos Robaina, son of Cuba’s Godfather of cigars. Sip on a Cuban coffee served on tobacco leaves while trying out some aromatic products before heading to the airport. 
Once done, we make our way to the airport to catch your return flight home.  Today’s transport is done by regular taxi.

  • MEALS INCLUDED: B

DISCLAIMER: Travel in Cuba requires a flexible attitude. Our days are full, and as required by U.S. law, we have a full-time agenda of people-to-people activities.  Cuba has it’s own beat and things don’t always run on time. The activities and visits listed are not guaranteed but we endeavor to do our best to provide the content intent of this people–to-people program.  Visiting developing countries can be eye-opening and life-changing, and hopefully visiting Cuba is both. Accommodations may not be up to the standards you are used to.  Sometimes the hot water or air conditioning doesn’t work.  We ask all our guests to appreciate the authenticity of your cultural encounters as well as the people, food, culture, and adventures that are exceptional in their difference.  Our local guide, along with your Cuba Unbound Tour Leader promise to do their best to make this a fascinating and educational experience.

Travel Arrangements

FLIGHT INFORMATION
Daily commercial flights between several US cities and Havana are available, usually at very reasonable fares. Therefore, for both cost and convenience, we ask that you book your own air travel. 
 
You will need the following documentation for travel to Cuba.
1) Cuba Tourist card - this is your tourist visa which enables you to legally enter the country. **There are two ways to obtain this.  The easiest is to buy it at either the Miami or Fort Lauderdale airports at the gate for your flight.  The airlines have them available at a price of $100.  If you would rather buy the visa in advance, it can be purchased from Cuba Travel Services  https://cubavisaservices.com/product/touristvisa-card/
2) Flight tickets/confirmation
3) Certification of Travel to Cuba - This document will be provided to all Cuba Unbound guest. This certificate testifies that your trip is fully legal under the general license of people-to-people travel to Cuba.
4) Proof of Medical Insurance - Cuba requires all travelers to Cuba to have travel medical insurance. Travel medical insurance must include coverage for medical evacuation, emergencies, and repatriation. The company providing your travel medical plan must be able to make payments from a non-U.S. banking institution.
U.S. airlines include the mandatory level of travel medical insurance in your ticket. Guests may purchase supplementary coverage at their discretion; we recommend such action as the mandatory amounts are set rather low.
Cuba Unbound partners with Travel Insured International for this supplementary coverage, the costs of which depend on coverage amount, length of travel, and age of traveler. 
 
ARRIVING IN HAVANA
Most major U.S. carriers have daily flight from the US to Havana.   So far, departure locations include Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Boston, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa. 
To follow our itinerary as planned, it is best if you arrive at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport,  between 11:00 AM and 12:00 PM on Day 1. The exact time and meeting location where you will meet your guides and begin your tour, will be contained in your final pre-trip instructions.
 
DEPARTING FROM HAVANA
This tour will end in Havana on the morning of day 9.  Cuba Unbound will provide a transfer to Jose Marti International airport. If you are staying in Cuba longer, we kindly ask that you make your own transportation arrangements at the conclusion of our tour. Our guides can provide advice and assistance with those arrangements as needed. 
 
ADDITIONAL NOTES
  • Accommodations:  If you are arriving early to Cuba or staying after your Cuba Unbound tour, it is important to secure your accommodations ahead of time. We recommend using  casa particulars (houses that rent rooms) which are available via AirBNB.  Casas are typically an easier and less expensive option (most in the $20-50 range), as compared to hotels which are extremely limited and difficult to book in Cuba.  Travel Agencies such as Cuba Travel Services can also assist with booking homestays or hotels. Booking through a travel agency or AirBNB allows for advance credit card payment, minimizing the cash you’ll need to carry with you. 
CONTACT NUMBERS
To reach our office support staff, call 1-800-624-0482 between 8:30 - 5:30 Pacific time Monday - Friday.  In case of emergencies outside our business hours on your way to Cuba, you can call or text Steph at 515-231-6279 or Wesley at 503-862-6845.

Weather

CUBA'S TOURIST SEASONS

  • High Season: Cuba’s peak tourist season runs from mid-December to mid-March as well as July and August. Crowds are at their thickest here, and prices and bookings tend to be up as well. It’s always good to plan ahead when visiting during Cuba’s high season.
  • Shoulder Season: Cuba’s shoulder runs through the months of April and October. Visitors can find some special deals during the shoulder season, though there’s a slight peak around Easter.  
  • Low Season: Cuba’s low season hits May through June and September. Expect some closures or fewer facilities during the low season when tourists are less likely but hurricanes are more likely.

CUBA CLIMATE GUIDE

  • Hot and Wet Season (May through August): During the summer, Cuba is hot and humid. 
  • Hurricane Season (End of August to First of November): Like all Caribbean Islands, Cuba gets hit by hurricans. The fiercest hurricane months are September and October, though the "hurricane season" runs from June through November. That being said, Cuba has a tendency to hold out pretty well against hurricanes! 
  • Dry and Cooler Season (November through April):  If you love the consistently sunny and temperate weather, Cuba's dry season is for you. It's generally 77-82 degrees (25-27 C) with less rain and cooler evenings. The island warms up beautifully from March through mid-April, and visitors can expect warm Caribbean currents, cooling northeasterly winds and occasional rainfall. 

Weather in Havana, Cuba - Weather Underground

Getting Ready

PHONES IN CUBA  
Your trip to Cuba is an excellent opportunity to get in a digital detox. For those travelers who can't get off the grid, however, it's possible to stay connected in Cuba--you just have to accept that your Cuban roaming comes with Cuban roaming charges. 
  • Personal Mobile Phone Service in Cuba: It’s possible that your mobile phone will work in Cuba as some U.S. service providers have already or are beginning to make contracts with the ETECSA (Cuba’s national telecommunications company) to provide roaming services. Verizon and Sprint currently offer roaming services in Cuba. Check to see if your provider offers a roaming plan and if your mobile phone is capable of roaming when in Cuba. Further, inquire about additional charges for data, outgoing messages, and voice calls. You can also rent a SIM card from Cubacel to use your U.S. mobile phone in Cuba. This, however, only works if your phone is unlocked and GSM-capable. Cubacel’s SIM cards come with pre-paid minutes, and a daily rental fee is included.
  • Renting U.S. Mobile Phones for Cuban Travel: A select number of specialized mobile phone companies provide travel phones compatible with Cuban roaming. Before traveling to Cuba, you can rent compatible phones from Mobal, Cello Mobile, or National Geographic’s Cellular Abroad. Expect rental fees and additional texting and per-minute call charges with data optional depending on the type of phone rented.
  • Renting a Phone in Cuba: You can rent a phone from Cubacel upon your arrival in Cuba. Cubacel offices are located in Havana’s José Martí International Airport. Expect a nonrefundable deposit as well a daily fee, and additional texting and per-minute call charges still apply. Data’s not available on these rented phones.
INTERNET ACCESS IN CUBA
  • Internet Cafés: ETECSA operates a number of internet cafés locally known as telepuntos in larger cities such as Havana and Santiago. You may purchase an access ticket in telepuntos that allow you to use the internet by the hour or by the minute.
  • Hotel Business Centers: Many of the larger, modern hotels have a business center where guests can purchase internet access.
  • WiFi: ETECSA offers 65 public WiFi locations as of January, 2016. WiFi access in public locations costs an hourly rate, and much like at telepuntos guests must purchase an access pass from ETECSA in order to log on. Approximately 50 major resorts and hotels throughout Cuba offer WiFi, and they generally charge an hourly rate.
Check out the FCC’s Cuba telecommunications FAQs page for further details!  
 
POWER
In Cuba, many hotels and resorts have an electrical current of 110V60Hz. Some more modern accommodations also have a dual voltage system with some sockets running at 220V. The majority of outlets accept U.S.-style 2-3 prong plugs, though some also accept European rounded 2-3 prong plugs. 
 
HEALTH
Cuba poses no particular health or safety risks for travelers though it’s always advised to take reasonable precautions and be aware of your surroundings. We advise you to pack an individualized medical kit including any prescription drugs and painkillers that you might use while traveling in Cuba.
  • Vaccines: U.S. citizens require no vaccines to visit Cuba.That being said, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that travelers should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations.Other advisable inoculations include: hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies.
  • Food and Water: It’s always good to take precautions about what you eat and drink when traveling to Cuba. To avoid parasites, avoid drinking tap water and instead drink bottled water or check if the offered water has been boiled. As for food, food purchased on the street presents the highest risk as no authorized regulatory organization ensures proper hygiene.
    • Water Bottle Choice - if you have one, we ask that you bring a reusable, wide-mouthed water bottle.  Again, we provide bottled water throughout the trip, but we are often refilling on the bus, and/or from large 5-gallon containers.  A wide-mouthed water bottle will make it easier on everyone.
    • Snacks- if you are someone who likes to snack between meals, or if you need a regular blood sugar bump during an active trip such as this, pack some small, non-perishable, packaged food items from home: think granola bars, nuts, etc.  There are small markets in the cities and villages of Cuba, but they do not sell what we consider snack food.
    • Food Restrictions- Vegetarian/vegan guests (or those with other food allergies as noted on your trip application) can expect our guides and operating partners to do their very best to accommodate your needs.  If you are a "pescatarian" and enjoy seafood, you will have plenty.  However, strict vegetarian and vegan options are less common in Cuba.  Plan on rice and beans, basic veggies (the avocados in Cuba are impressive), and local fruits when and where available.  You might want to bring your own supply of nuts or other protein substitutes.
  • Sun Exposure: With Cuba’s strong summer sun and high humidity, sun and heat exposure along with dehydration can present health risks. Use sunscreen, drink lots of water, and limit sun exposure when you can.
  • Insurance: Cuba mandates that all foreign travelers have medical insurance which includes evacuation if serious medical attention is needed.
  • Zika Virus:  The CDC has reported Zika outbreaks in Cuba and advises travelers to practice enhanced precautions. Check out the CDC's websitefor updated travel alerts, and please review our prepared Zika Virus Travel Tips on the Health & Safety dropdown menu to help you travel healthy. 
SAFETY
Cuba remains a generally safe country for travelers. Petty theft remains the most common safety threat, though preventative measures and vigilance go a long way to keep your items safe. Expect attention from jinteros, hustlers, and watch out for street operators.
 
MONEY IN CUBA
For more details on currency and cash, refer to the Money in Cuba page on the Cuba Unbound website. 
  • Exchanging Money in Cuba: $1 USD is roughly equivalent to 1 CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso- the currency you will exclusively use in Cuba).  While you can exchange USD for CUC, there is an immediate 10% penalty which is why we suggest you bring Euros or Canadian dollars (CAD) instead.  We recommend exchanging currency upon arrival at the Havana airport.  Airport officials can point you to the currency exchange desk.  Other options are government exchange offices within the city, banks (consider likely open hours for both), and your hotel, however the airport is likely your best bet for convenience and the most favorable rates.  If arriving on the morning of Day 1 and meeting your group before leaving the airport, your guides will assist you with currency exchange.
  • How Much To Bring on Your Tour: Below are some guidelines on how much cash you may want to bring for items not included in your tour.  Although it is slowly changing, virtually all U.S. bank credit/debit cards still do not work in Cuba, so bring more cash than you think you'll need - if you run out, there is likely no easy way to get more.
    • Gifts/Souvenirs: we recommend $200-$400 per person ($800 USD per person is the maximum allowed through customs when you return to the U.S).  If you plan to shop minimally or not at all, adjust appropriately.
    • Incidental Personal Expenses: $75 per person.  Plan on unexpected needs along the way, such as laundry, tips for service outside the scope of the tour, etc.
    • Beverages/Entertainment: $75-$100 per person.  ROW provides clean drinking water at all times, as well as water with meals and coffee, tea and juice at breakfast.  In addition, most restaurants on your tour will include one beverage of your choice with lunch and dinner.  However, an included drink is not always the case, and additional beverages will need to be paid separately.  In many places, you may take an evening stroll and enjoy some live music in a local bar.  At the Casas we stay in along the way, you can buy beer and perhaps other drinks.  Drinks range from $2-$4 at most locations.
    • Guide Gratuities: we recommend approximately $125 USD per guest for your guide team (equivalent to $25 per day for the team).  Keep in mind that tipping is a very personal decision, and we encourage you to adjust this up or down as you see fit based on your experience.  It's best to plan on tipping in the local CUC currency, Euros, or Canadian dollars.
      • During your trip, Cuba Unbound covers tips for servers, porters, and others that help us along the way.  Your tour leader, as well as local Cuban guides and drivers are not included in the gratuities that we pay. Please give this gratuity in either CUCs, Euros, or CAD to your ROW tour leader at the end of the trip.  He or she will in turn divide it according to our company guidelines, keeping some for him/herself and distributing the rest appropriately among our local Cuban guides and drivers. 
    • Total: We recommend a total of $475-$700 per person. If this seems high, remember that it's best to bring more than you think you may need, as you cannot get more cash in Cuba.  You can always take home what you don't spend (just don't take it home in CUC, as you will NOT be able to exchange CUC in the U.S.)

Packing list

The packing guide outlined below is meant to help you plan, prepare and outfit yourself for your upcoming travels. We have provided our best recommendations and suggestions, but we want to be clear: it is only a guide. Our recommendations are based on the outlined itinerary, our knowledge of Cuba, and our personal experiences. However, each traveler will have his or her own preferences and favorite travel items. We hope you find this resource helpful – minimize as much as you feel comfortable within these guidelines, and feel free to amend it with your favorite travel items too!

We will provide all necessary paddling equipment, including kayaks and paddles, PFDs (personal flotation devices), and safety equipment for the kayaks.  It is highly recommended that all of your kayaking clothes are synthetic or wool, not cotton.  Synthetics are also ideal for walking/hiking and touring in warmer climates (you can typically expect daytime highs of 75-80 deg F in Cuba, with varying humidity) as they wick away moisture and dry quickly.  We do have a selection of snorkels, masks, & fins available for your use on this tour. However, if you have your own snorkeling gear, need a very specific size, and/or do not want to share equipment with others, please bring your own snorkeling gear with you.  Wetsuits most likely will not be necessary for snorkeling, as the water in the Caribbean is quite warm year-round.

LUGGAGE RECCOMENDATIONS

Cuba Unbound adventures are best enjoyed if you travel light.  We think it is wise to avoid checking any luggage.  We highly recommend NOT checking bags to Havana. The airport is often very busy, with multiple flights coming in at once and limited baggage carousels in some terminals. One thing that still might make carrying on all luggage difficult: the standard TSA limitations on liquids and gels. As many of these items are not so readily available in Cuba, if you need larger volumes of any such items, one idea is to purchase them at the your departure airport after you pass through security. If you check bags, be sure to carry everything that is either essential or would be hard to replace in your day pack/carry-on bag (medications, travel documents, important personal items/essentials).  We will not be able to wait for checked luggage that is lost or delayed.

Whether you are carrying on your luggage or checking a bag, we recommend bringing TWO bags with you on this tour: 

  • One roll-on suitcase or duffle/backpack: This will serve as your main piece of luggage during your tour.  If you are planning to carry this bag on your flight(s), the total dimensions should meet standard carry-on size of 45 inches or less (22 x 14 x 9 in.).  During your tour in Cuba, we will transport this bag for you between hotels each day, and you will have access to it each evening when we check into our accommodations.  *Also, depending on your shopping plans, you may consider packing an extra soft-sided compressible duffle inside your main luggage – to use for anticipated souvenir purchases in Cuba or extra space on your return flight.
  • One small daypack: this dual-purposed pack can serve as your personal item during your flights, as well as your day pack each day when not on the water (you will be provided with a third bag for use while kayaking – see below).  This pack can remain on the tour bus during kayaking excursions, where it will be secure but available to you before and after each paddle. We find that the smaller the daypack the better, however the capacity to hold those items you’ll want access to during the day is important (camera, clothing layers, sunscreen, water bottle, hat, etc.).  Ultimately, the choice of day pack and size is your own, but consider what you’re likely to need and want to carry with you each day, and how easily accessible and organized your pack allows those items to be.  

ESSENTIALS

  • Passport – valid for at least the duration of your trip
  • Cuba Travel Documents: 1) Cuba Tourist card; 2) Flight tickets/confirmation; 3) Certification of Travel to Cuba (The Certification of Travel to Cuba will be provided to ALL Cuba Unbound guests)
  • A photocopy of your passport, inside a ziplock bag and stowed elsewhere in your luggage (as an additional precautionary measure, consider leaving a photocopy with family or friends at home as well)
  • Copy of your air tickets with ticket numbers, placed elsewhere in your luggage. 
  • Adequate cash for the length of your trip (*plan to exclusively use cash for all purchases and gratuities – we will provide additional details and recommendations on the appropriate amount to bring in your pre-trip materials)
  • Watch or small travel clock with alarm (if you are taking a phone for use as a camera, this can serve as your alarm clock as well)
  • Money belt or concealed passport carrier to carry your passport, travel documents and money, hidden under your clothing
  • TSA-accessible lock for luggage security when not on your person (optional- can buy these at any travel or outdoor store)
CUBA CASUAL CLOTHING
*In general, clothing in Cuba should be informal
  • Two - three comfortable pairs of pants/shorts/dresses (lightweight dresses pack small and make great travel options for women)
  • One - two short or long sleeve and/or button up shirt(s) for town
  • One - two t-shirt(s) or tank top(s)
  • One light-weight packable fleece, vest, or sweater, or light jacket for warmth in the evenings and mornings (Optional for spring tours)
  • One pair light weight pajamas
  • Underwear (Consider total # of days on the trip and pack accordingly)
  • Casual hat for sun protection
  • One lightweight raincoat (a windbreaker that has some waterproof qualities will work as well)
  • Three - five pairs light nylon or cotton socks
  • One bandana or Buff for sun protection & cooling off (optional)
  • One pair sandals with ankle straps (Chaco, Keens or Tevas are preferred but there are many other brands that are suitable)
  • One pair casual shoes for evening outings 

GEAR AND OTHER ESSENTIALS

  • Daypack per above
  • One water bottle, 1 liter or larger (A bottle that fits in a daypack pocket or clips to the outside is ideal)
  • Camera/film/batteries/battery charger
  • Universal electrical plug adapter (most outlets in Cuba will match U.S.  outlets and plug types, but in some locations, other types may be present)
  • Umbrella- ideally a travel variety that collapses to less than 12” in length  (optional, but often preferable to a raincoat in warm Cuba)
  • Sunglasses, polarized are highly recommended for sun protection and enhanced clarity
  • Retaining strap for glasses and sunglasses (Chums, Croakies or similar item)
  • Extra pair of sunglasses and glasses/contacts
  • Small container of clothing detergent (optional, biodegradable, multi-purpose soap like Dr. Bronners is great)
  • A few quart-size or 1-gallon ziplock bags for packing sunscreens, lotions or anything that might make a mess
  • Book(s) or E-reader, pen and note pad, pocket Spanish-English dictionary, deck of playing cards or other games, etc.
  • iPod/small portable music player with headphones
  • Inflatable travel pillow/nightshade/earplugs (optional, and should pack down very small)
  • Headlamp or small LED flashlight
  • Travel coffee mug (optional)

TOILET KIT/FIRST AID KIT

*Most, if not all, of the products listed below are nearly impossible to find in Cuba – please plan accordingly. Note that liquids/gels in carry-on luggage must be under 3.38 oz/100ml  (another reason that checking bags may be necessary)

  • Standard toiletry kit including general hygiene products, toothbrush/toothpaste, etc.
  • Sunscreen – at least 30 SPF recommended
  • Lip balm with SPF 15-30
  • Pre-moistened towelette packets or disposable shower wipes to refresh
  • Personal medicines/prescriptions (Dramamine-motion sickness, Benadryl -allergic reactions, Advil or Aspirin, etc.).  Make sure that any prescription drugs include your doctor’s/pharmacist’s identification label on the outside of the container.
  • Insect repellent- we recommend repellent with DEET or Picaridin Insect Repellent (Picaridin is less toxic and less harsh on gear/clothing than DEET.  Here is one example of a Picaridin-based repellent: sawyer.com/products/picaridin-insect-repellent/)
  • Anti-itch medication and/or topical cream (e.g. Benadryl)
  • Heavy duty skin lotion for dry, sun-baked and salted skin
  • Small squeeze bottle of hand-sanitizer gel
  • Shampoo and body wash (one small travel flask of each - these items can also be scarce in Cuba and casas particulares will not always provide them)
  • One roll (or partial roll) of toilet paper
  • Feminine hygiene products 

ADDITIONAL NOTES REGARDING LUGGAGE LIMITATIONS FOR TRAVEL TO/FROM CUBA

  • Gifts for individuals or organizations are allowed with some limitations.  We will explain this is detail in one of your pre-trip emails.
  • Electronic items for personal use are often screened carefully upon arrival in Cuba – as long as you bring only what is reasonable for your trip (one camera, one cell phone, one e-reader, etc.), you should not have any issues.
  • U.S. citizens are permitted to bring home up to $800 total in goods, and adults 21 and older may include 1 liter of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, and 100 cigars.  “Informational materials” are excluded from this limit- including books, periodicals, any type of art or musical recording, etc.

*Please check your airline’s luggage restrictions and fees prior to your trip

Terms and Conditons

OUR COMMITMENT
Our hope is that your first trip with Adventure Unbound is just one of many. Thus our goal is to provide thorough and complete communications and be clear with the details of our agreement with you.  Because the fine print sometimes changes, you will receive the most current Terms & Conditions along with your travel documents at the time of booking.
 
PREPARING FOR YOUR TRIP
We do our best to provide you with all kinds of great resources to prepare for your trip.  These include packing lists, reading lists, detailed itineraries and more.  All of our multi-day river camping trips include tents, sleeping bags, and pads.  In most cases we will even help you book a hotel room prior to and after your trip.  Most international departures include accommodations, meals and land transportation. The reservation packet that we send you will include a detailed gear list of what you should bring.

Most of our trips are suitable for beginners; however, some are more active than others.  A spirit of flexibility and adventure is a good thing to bring along.   It’s important that you understand the physical requirements for whatever trip you choose.  If you’re not sure about this, or you’re not sure which trip or date will best meet your needs, please call for advice from our talented and knowledgeable Adventure Consultants.  Be sure to read the “Trip Member’s Responsibility” below and if you have any medical concerns we encourage you to speak with your doctor before reserving space on a trip.

If you are planning a special event during the trip such as a birthday or anniversary, please let us know as we always have a few surprises up our sleeves.  On our trip application form you can indicate any food needs you might have and we’re happy to accommodate those where possible.

HOW TO SIGN UP
To make a reservation, please contact us by one of the following methods:
Call us at 208-770-3359 – Monday-Friday from 8:30 to 5:00 pm Pacific Time.
Send us an email - email addresses for our brands can be found on each website.
Use the “Book Now” tab found on most trip pages on our website.
 
DEPOSITS
When we confirm the availability of your desired date and adventure, we will send you a confirmation packet including a suggested packing list. A deposit is required within 7-10 days of making your reservation for all trips for all trips booked 60 days or more in advance.  Confirmation is not final until we also receive a copy of your completed trip application and signed waiver.  We accept all major credit cards for the initial deposit. Credit cards are accepted for deposits only – the balance must be paid by check. Please note that some of our international tours require a second deposit due 120 days prior to departure.  Complete details on deposit amounts and payment due dates for your specific adventure will be sent to you on your initial invoice.

Early reservations are recommended as space is limited. While it is often possible to join one of our trips on short notice, space is limited and we recommend you sign up well in advance.

BALANCE DUE
Full payment is due 90 days prior to departure.
Reservations made after the balance due date must be paid in full at the time of booking. We reserve the right to cancel your reservation if full payment is not received by the due date.
 
TRAVEL PROTECTION PLAN
We strongly recommend that you purchase a travel protection plan which can include a full trip refund should you cancel at any time for medical or health reasons.  Coverage also includes medical evacuation, trip delay, and other elements.  Because so many of our guests purchase this plan, we add the cost to your invoice as a convenience and it becomes effective on the day your premium payment is received in our office.  Should you not wish to purchase this travel plan, simply deduct its cost from your invoice. Participants are responsible for researching the terms of their insurance coverage.
 
TRANSFER FEES
If you transfer from one trip to another, there is a $75 per person charge for USA-based trips up until 60 days prior to departure and a $100 per person charge for international trips up until 90 days prior to departure.  Transfers made after these times are treated as cancellations. Transfer fees for some trips such as yachting trips are more stringent.
 
CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, you should notify Adventure Unbound in writing, by e-mail or fax immediately.  If written cancellation is received (call to verify) before the final balance is due, you will be given a refund less the amount of the deposit.  Deposits are not refundable.  If cancellations are made on or after the final due date, no money will be refunded.  If you are unable to go on the trip, you are welcome to find a replacement for yourself.  Please understand that once you’ve signed up, we lose the right to sell your reserved space to other individuals or groups.  Therefore, we regret that we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies.  For this reason we strongly recommend you consider purchasing the Travel Protection Plan we offer.

For non USA-based trips, Adventure Unbound must make substantial payments to its suppliers (hotels, transportation companies, etc.) far in advance of the trip departure date.  If Adventure Unbound cancels any tour, trip or expedition due to acts of insurrection, force majeure, strikes, popular demonstrations, acts of God, earthquake, flooding, or any cause beyond its control, Adventure Unbound will refund the portion of the trip cost not already advanced to suppliers and use its best efforts to recover and refund the balance as promptly as possible.

If we are not able to provide a substitute trip, river, or altered itinerary and have to cancel the departure completely, you will be refunded in full. Refunds are limited to the amount actually paid to Adventure Unbound.

CANCELLATIONS FOR EXTENSIONS
There is a $100 per person non-refundable cancellation fee for all extensions.  Cancellations must be received no later than 60 days prior to departure to avoid additional penalties.  Cancellations made 59-30 days prior to departure incur a cancellation fee of 50% of the total fare.  Cancellations made 29-0 days prior to departure forfeit all fees paid.  For groups of 10 or more, cancellations must be received no later than 120 days prior to departure.  Cancellations made between 119-60 days incur a cancellation fee of 25% of the total fare.
 
TIERED PRICING
Because of numerous fixed costs, it is more expensive to operate a trip for a small group.  Thus, you will note on our trip prices there is a different price for 6-8 people versus 9-10, versus 11-12. Trip costs quoted are based on foreign exchange rates current at the time of this printing.  We reserve the right to raise the trip fee if there are exceptional cost increases beyond our control.
 
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS / TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
All travelers are required to have a valid passport when traveling to another country.  It is your responsibility to be sure that your passport is valid for the duration of your tour.   Visas/Tourist Cards are required to enter Cuba. It is the traveler's responsibility to ensure they have the correct and complete documentation required for their trip.
 
TIPPING
If you are happy with the service you receive, it will be more than welcome.  Tipping is a very personal matter and the decision to tip and how much to give is entirely yours.  If you believe your guide deserves a tip, a suggested range is from 7-12% of your trip cost.  If you had the time of your life, then the sky’s the limit!  We also appreciate your comments.  We use your feedback to recognize extraordinary guest service and to discover areas where we can make improvements.  Our goal is to exceed your expectations!  Tips can be given to the “Team Leader”, who will distribute them equally among the crew.
 
GUIDE REQUESTS
Adventure Unbound is proud of the fact that we can sometimes bring guests together with their favorite guides. However, guide requests are often not possible and cannot be guaranteed for a variety of reasons. We will do everything we can to schedule you with the guide you have requested, but in the end, please understand, your request may not be feasible.
 
TRIP MEMBER'S RESPONSIBILITY
Trip members have the responsibility to select a trip appropriate to their abilities and interests. We are happy to discuss the trip with you if you have any questions or concerns. Trip members are held responsible for being in sufficient good health to undertake the trip. Members are also responsible for studying all pre-departure information; for bringing the appropriate clothing and equipment as detailed therein and, for acting in a manner considerate of fellow group members.

Although most travel, including travel to international destinations, is completed without incident, travel to certain destinations may involve greater risk than others.  Adventure Unbound urges passengers to review travel prohibitions, warnings, announcements and advisories issued by the United States Government prior to booking travel to international destinations. Information on conditions in various countries and the level of risk associated with travel to particular international destinations can be found at www.state.gov, www.tsa.gov, www.dot.gov, www.faa.gov, www.cdc.gov, www.treas.gov/ofac and www.customs.gov. By offering travel to particular international destinations, Adventure Unbound does not represent or warrant that travel to such points is advisable or without risk, and Adventure Unbound is not liable for damages or losses that may result from travel to such destinations.

Adventure Unbound reserves the right to disqualify anyone at any time before or during the trip for medical or psychological reasons. Each trip member is ultimately responsible for his or her own medical expenses. We cannot refund costs of medical examinations or other expenses incurred while preparing for a trip. If you arrive at the start of your trip with a pre-existing condition or injury that was not disclosed in writing to Adventure Unbound and you are subsequently forced to leave the trip because of this condition, you will be charged all extra evacuation expenses and will not receive a refund of any unused trip services. All health information is treated as confidential.

RESPONSIBILITY ~ AN IMPORTANT NOTICE
Payment of your deposit represents your acceptance of the following conditions: Remote Odysseys Worldwide, Inc. (dba Adventure Unbound), its subsidiaries and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agents for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any delay, expense, mishap, inconvenience, bodily injury or death, loss or damage to person or property, however caused, in connection with any service, including, but not limited to, that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, irregularity, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from strikes, theft, quarantine, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, government restrictions or regulations, civil disturbances, and discrepancies or changes in transit over which we have no control.

Adventure Unbound reserves the right, either prior to or after departure, in its good-faith discretion and in circumstances that warrant it, to change or re-price any tour, trip, or expedition.  This includes the possibility of moving to a different river or river segment due to extreme water conditions, forest fires, road closures and/or acts of God.

Adventure Unbound reserves the right to substitute hotels and leaders and to alter the itinerary when deemed necessary or advisable.

Adventure Unbound reserves the right to take photographic or film records of any of our trips and may use any such records for promotional and/or commercial purposes.

LIABILITY RELEASE
Everyone is required to sign a standard liability release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that there are inherent risks associated with the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with Adventure Unbound’ cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
 
FOREIGN TRAVEL
Trips in countries other than the United States of America are operated by independent suppliers arranged through our sister companies Remote Odysseys Worldwide, Inc. or ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc.  We have no right to control their operations and therefore make the described travel arrangements upon the express condition that Adventure Unbound, Remote Odysseys Worldwide, Inc., nor ROW Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc., its subsidiaries, agents and employees, shall not be liable for any delay, mishap, inconvenience, expense, irregularity, bodily injury or death to person, or damage to property occasioned through the conduct or fault of any company or individual engaged in providing these services.
 
ITINERARY CHANGES
We do our best to follow our itinerary as published however, the nature of these sorts of adventures is such that each trip will be slightly different.  Weather, National Park regulation changes, hotel availability, guest ability, fuel shortages and other factors may require modifications.  We do our best to substitute equivalent destinations and activities.  Adventure Unbound will not be held responsible for any refunds whatsoever for changes to the printed or scheduled itinerary.
 
DELAYS
Travel requires a flexible attitude.  Due to factors out of our control, including but not limited to weather, unannounced road construction, etc., delays do occur.  For example, flights sometimes don’t operate as scheduled, roads may wash out, or detours may be necessary.  We advise you to consider these potential factors when planning your travel to our tour destinations, as well as ask for your flexibility and understanding when delays due to factors out of our control necessitate changes to your tour itinerary.
 
CANCELED TRIPS
Adventure Unbound reserves the right to cancel any trip prior to departure for any reason whatsoever, including insufficient sign-ups or logistical problems, which may impede trip operations.  The refund of all land payments received shall release Adventure Unbound from any further liability.  In the event of trip cancellation, Adventure Unbound is not responsible for additional expenses incurred by trip members, such as penalties incurred through the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets, medical expenses and passport and visa fees. A trip cancellation due to insufficient sign-ups would normally occur at least 30 days prior to departure. These additional expenses can be recovered if you purchase a travel protection plan.
 
MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS
Adventure Unbound shall not be liable for (a) expenses such as additional hotel nights and meals not specified in the individual trip itineraries, but which may be required to get to and from a trip start or end; (b) expenses due to the delay of a trip for any reason (e.g. bad weather, trail conditions, landslides, flooding, sickness, etc.); (c) expenses incurred in recovering luggage lost by airlines, belongings left behind on a trip or in shipping purchases or other goods home from abroad.

Back to top