Cuba Unbound Signature Tour | Cuba Unbound

Cuba Unbound Signature Tour

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:  8 Days
DEPARTING CITY: Havana
AGE LIMIT:  12 Years
TRIP TYPE:  Sea Kayaking

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: WELCOME TO CUBA! HAVANA AND HABANA VIEJA 
Havana is a large and exciting city full of people, fascinating architecture, public art, museums, the ocean-front malecon, wide boulevards and narrow alleys. After transferring from the airport, we explore the city on foot, including the many historical plazas of Havana Vieja.  Throughout our adventure we eat mostly in private restaurants called Paladars.  We enjoy lunch and dinner today at two of Havana’s finest.  After our walking tour we have an orientation meeting to prepare you for the week ahead. After dinner some may want to experience some of Havana’s nightlife, a town where music is plentiful. 
  • ACCOMODATIONS: Havana Hotel
  • MEALS INCLUDED: L,D

DAY 2: CRIADERO DE COCODRILOS, THE BAY OF PIGS, AND ARRIVE A ZAPATA NATIONAL PARK
We depart Havana in the morning and travel to Boca de Guama which was named because of the Taino chief Guama who put a defense against Spanish colonists. This is where a crocodile breeding facility is located, operated by the park service of Cuba. Both American and Cuban crocodiles are brought up here and you will be able to learn about the different stages of their life. We will stop for lunch and then continue to our Casa Particular (Bed & Breakfast) accommodation in the small village of Playa Larga.  After some time to relax or take a stroll on the beach, we start our first kayak excursion!  With paddle in hand, you kayak on the Bay of Pigs as your guide tells exciting stories about the area. The two-hour session will breeze by and soon it’s time to return to the beach and dinner.

  • ACCOMODATIONS: Casa Particular Playa Larga
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D

DAY 3: KAYAK THE WETLANDS OF ZAPATA NATIONAL PARK
After breakfast we head off on a dirt road to go on an adventure through the Zapata National Park. We paddle across the waters of the Zapata Peninsula with a local park guide and our own kayak guide staff. Wildlife in plenty will be seen such as flamingos, birds, and more. Our local guide shares his knowledge of this unique tropical ecosystem of mangroves and the biggest swamp area in Cuba.   We paddle in shallow waters and take time to snorkel when we stop for lunch on a small island and stretch our legs.  We return by late afternoon to Playa Larga.  In the early evening we have a People-to-People presentation and discussion with Frank Medina, the Director of Zapata National Park who speaks with us about the mission and various programs in the Park. Dinner will follow which will be full of fresh and local foods.

  • ACCOMODATIONS: Casa Particular Playa Larga  
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D

DAY 4: MUSEUM PLAYA GIRON, COSTAL SNORKELING, BOTANICAL GARDENS IN CEINFUEGOS AND TRINIDAD
The beautiful beaches of Playa Giron await and our first stop is a prime snorkeling location full of colorful fish and healthy reefs.  We learn about the Caribbean Sea and how Cuba has the healthiest reefs in all the region.  After snorkeling we visit the Bay of Pigs museum to learn about the failed 1961 invasion attempt.  Then after lunch in a local Paladar, we travel to the Jardin Botanico Cienfuegos. This is one of Cuba’s largest botanical gardens full of 2000 species of plants. A local guide joins us for another great people-to-people experience as we explore the gardens.  An hour away the town of Trinidad will be our night destination where we will check in and then head to a local restaurant for dinner before getting a good night’s rest.

  • ACCOMODATIONS: Trinidad Casas Particulares 
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D

DAY 5: MORNING KAYAK, WALKING TOUR OF COLONIAL TRINIDAD, PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE WITH JULIO MUNOZ
Feel rejuvenated as you wake up in Trinidad, Cuba’s third-oldest city! Colonial style and culture is found in this UNESCO Heritage site.  We take a short drive to paddle on a nearby river, where Hernan Cortez landed 500 years ago.  Gliding along the tree-lined river, we see birds and are rewarded with a grand view of the city of Trinidad perched above us.   We return to town and our guide takes us on a walking tour of the city. Explore the streets and admire the fine art and architectural detail of the buildings.  There’s some time to discover on your own in the afternoon, and later we meet with a well-known photographer, Julio Munoz, who hosts us in his home to  discuss the history and culture of Trinidad, life in Cuba today, and Julio’s own fascinating story.  Another festive dinner at a local Paladar followed with time to enjoy the Casa de la Musica, an outdoor venue on the steps of the city.  

  • ACCOMODATIONS: Trinidad Casas Particulares
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D

DAY 6: PADDLING IN THE GUANAROCA NATURE RESERVE AND ON TO CIENFUEGOS
The area of “Laguna de Guanaroca-Yaguanabo-El Nicho” cover about 10,000 acres and is rich in birdlife including a flock of resident flamingos.    We paddle in the lagoon, and then out into the larger Bay of Cienfuegos is where you paddle past an abandoned navy base, a sunken sub and on to a bountiful seafood lunch. We shuttle a short distance to city of Cienfuegos, known as the Pearl of the South. Settled by French and French Creoles invited here by the Spanish government in the 1800’s, there remains a French flair. We take a late-afternoon walking tour to visit Teatro Tomás Terry, a beautiful theater located on the north side of Parque José Martí and an excellent example of Creole architecture.   We visit a number of other sites and take a stroll on the Prado, a wild boulevard that fills with people late in the evening.  After dinner local casas provide your accommodations for the night.

  • ACCOMODATIONS: Cienfuegos Casas Particulares
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D

DAY 7: ERNEST HEMINGWAY MUSEUM, COJIMAR, AND DRIVING CLASSIC CARS IN HAVANA
This is our last full day of activities.  We drive back to Havana where we go to the Ernest Hemingway Museum (Finca Vigia) where he lived a good 20 years and wrote many of his books.   After the museum we visit the historic fishing hamlet Cojimar, where Hemingway parked his boat.  We continue into Havana and visit the Mercado San Jose, a massive warehouse filled with art and crafts and the perfect place to find a souvenir or two,   We travel in style to dinner tonight, in classic cars from the 1940’s and 50’s.  On our way we tour the Plaza de la Revolucion and a few other sites of Vedado and Miramar.   Our farewell dinner is at another of the city’s finest paladars, and afterwards, it’s time out on the town, or back to the hotel to pack.

  • ACCOMODATIONS: Havana Hotel
  • MEALS INCLUDED: B,L,D
DAY 8: ADIOS CUBA!
Fill up before you arrive at the airport to catch your return flight. Remember to switch your Cuban currency back to American currency before you leave!
  • 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
Several commercial flights operate daily from several US cities and Havana, usually at very reasonable fares. Therefore, for both cost and convenience, we ask that you book your own air travel. 
If your trip is not yet confirmed, we suggest waiting to book any travel or pre/post-trip accommodations until we have confirmed the trip for you.  It is likely that commercial air options will continue to develop and improve in the coming weeks, and we will plan to provide guidance on the best options for you upon confirmation of your tour. 
 
When your tour is confirmed 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. This card 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 flights to Havana.   So far, departure locations include Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston,Boston, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa. Commercial flights vary in price and are limited to specific destinations, departure dates and time of day. For more specific information visit the airlines website or Kayak.
 
To follow our itinerary as planned, we ask that you plan to 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. Unless you are flying from the East Coast of the U.S., a morning arrival in Havana is often difficult, if not impossible.  Therefore, we include a "Day 0" in our itinerary.  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 consult our Day 0 Planning Guide or 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 any of a number of reasonably priced hotels near the airport (or elsewhere if you're spending extra time in Miami) and take a flight to Havana on the morning of Day 1.  American Airlines currently has excellent options from Miami to Havana, including two daily flights that arrive in Havana prior to 11:00 AM.  You may find that booking two separate round-trip tickets is best: 1) from home to Miami and back; and 2) from Miami to Havana and back.  Or you may find a single ticket (typically with a red-eye flight or overnight layover in Miami) with scheduled arrival before 11:00 AM on the morning of Day 1. 
If, for some reason, you are unable to get to the Jose Marti International Airport by 11:00 AM on Day 1, please contact our office and we will provide instructions regarding how to catch up to your group.
 
DEPARTING FROM HAVANA
This tour will end in Havana, at your hotel, on the morning of day 8. 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. Make sure you have accommodations prior to booking a plane ticket.
  • Ground Transportation: Taxi transport to your casa on night 0, as well as to return to the airport on Day 1, is very simple.  We recommend using state run taxis. Make sure to have the address of your destination in hand and agree on the fare before getting in the cab.
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 still 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: $100 per person.  Plan on unexpected needs along the way, such as laundry, tips for service outside the scope of the tour, etc.
    • Airport Taxi: Budget $25-$30 for your airport taxi at the conclusion of your trip.
    • 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 $200 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 $600-$825 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.  
  • Dry Bag for Kayaking excursions: (provided by Cuba Unbound and issued upon arrival in Cuba) - this bag is for use during the day while kayaking.  This dry bag will accompany you in the kayak, providing easy access to your personal items (rain gear, sunscreen, extra clothing layers, binoculars, camera, etc.) throughout each paddling excursion, and keeping them dry and safe.  You will return this bag to us at the end of your tour. 

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 KAYAKING AND TOURING CLOTHES
*only synthetic or quick-dry materials should be worn while kayaking
  • One pair of paddling gloves (optional)
  • One pair long, lightweight, nylon pants with zipper pockets (Zip off legs give you more options)
  • One pair nylon shorts (this can double as a swimsuit for the guys)
  • Swimsuit
  • One quick-dry sport dress (optional for easy over the swimsuit/hiking/kayaking)
  • Sarong (optional but very handy for changing clothes, laying on the ground, etc.)
  • One - two short sleeve button-up shirt(s) or t-shirt(s) (synthetic is best)
  • One long sleeve shirt for sun protection (You can buy tight-weave nylon shirts with SPF protection made by companies such as Columbia, Patagonia, Exofficio or REI etc. Sun protection is essential)
  • One wide-brim, tie-on hat (nylon variety is ideal, as it packs well)
  • One lightweight raincoat (a windbreaker that has some waterproof qualities will work as well)  
  • Three pair light synthetic or light merino-wool socks
  • One pair sandals with ankle straps to wear while kayaking, on the beaches, walking around towns, etc. (Chaco, Keens or Tevas are preferred but there are many other brands that are suitable)
  • One pair walking/running shoes, to use for city tours and for other times when you want to wear something other than sandals.
CUBA NON-KAYAKING OR CAUSAL CLOTHING
*In general, clothing in Cuba should be informal
  • Two –three other 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 (synthetic is best.  Consider total # of days on the trip and adjust accordingly)
  • Casual hat for sun protection
  • One buff or bandana for sun protection and cooling off
  • Three pair light nylon or cotton socks (one thicker pair for longer walking tours & light hiking) 
GEAR AND OTHER ESSENTIALS
  • Small day pack per above
  • Personal snorkeling gear if you prefer your own equipment – snorkel, mask, & fins (fins optional – consider packing space & weight)
  • One water bottle, 1 liter or larger (A bottle that fits in a daypack pocket or clips to the outside of your daypack and to a kayak deck is ideal)
  • Quick-drying camping towel (ideally packs down well and fits in your daypack- you can get them at most outdoor stores)
  • 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)
  • Binoculars (Optional but nice for bird and wildlife watching)
  • 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
  • Three to four kitchen garbage can liners – for wet clothes, dirty laundry, soiled shoes, etc.  
  • A few quart-size or 1-gallon ziplock bags for packing sunscreens, lotions or anything that might make a mess
  • Small waterproof camera box like the Pelican brand
  • 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
  • Electrolyte tablets/mix, Hammer Gels, Clif bars/blocks, etc. for fuel replenishment while kayaking (hard to impossible to find in Cuba)
  • Additional before & after-activity snacks (Optional – granola bars, candy bars, etc.  Fruits, seeds, and veggies are not permissible)
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 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.
 
SINGLE TRAVELERS
Tour prices are based on double occupancy. If you are a single traveler, and request individual accommodations, we will apply a single supplement fee to your reservation. If you are willing to share accommodations, we will pair you with a roommate, should there be one available, allowing us to waive the single supplement fee. 
 
TIERED PRICING
Our trips are budgeted for full or near full sign-ups which enables us to offer trips at the lowest possible price.  Because of numerous fixed costs, it is more expensive to operate a trip for a small group.  Therefore, on some of our trips, we have a “tier-pricing” system to avoid canceling a trip with a low number of sign ups.  We have found that most people also prefer this alternative to having a trip cancelled.   Thus, you will note on our trip prices there is a different price for 6-8 people versus 9-10, versus 11-12.
Tier pricing is calculated on the number of full revenue passengers.  Trip physicians, staff or guests of Adventure Unbound(travel writers, trip leaders-in-training, office staff, etc.) are not included in the tier pricing structure.  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.
We will initially invoice you at the higher tier price, and refund the difference depending on the final group size.
 
GROUP AND CHARTER RATES
On most trips, we offer a Group Rate for groups of 10 or more.  We are also happy to arrange private charter trips. Contact us for details.
 
WAITING LISTS
If you wish to be wait-listed for a full trip, the normal deposit is required.  If an opening occurs on the trip, you will be informed and automatically transferred to the trip roster.  If you accept the slot, you will become subject to the normal cancellation policies.   Otherwise, your deposit will be refunded in full.
 
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 duration of your tour.   Visas/Tourist Cards are required to travel to 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