Our 3 and 4-night self-guided cycling trips begin with outfitting at CicloCuba in Old Havana on the morning of Day 1. You’ll make your way (with your luggage) to their facility beside the Havana Club Rum Museum after breakfast. Our 5, 7 & 9-night self-guided cycling trips begin with overnight in Havana and outfitting at CicloCuba the next morning. After outfitting, we’ll stop in at the Madero B&B to pick up your luggage for delivery to the next destination. At CicloCuba your rental bicycle will be waiting and their professional mechanic will make any necessary adjustments and (if required) install your personal saddle/clipless pedals. You’ll also be picking up your pre-programmed Garmin cycle computer & printed route cards from CicloCuba.
With your cooperation, we try to get an early start each day so that you avoid cycling in the afternoon heat and we can dedicate afternoons to office duties. On transfer days, we schedule luggage pickup normally between 08:30-09:00 (you can indicate your preferences to the driver during outfitting).
What to Bring (and how to avoid overpacking)
- Passport: valid for 6 months from departure date stored in a ziplock bag. Recommended: backup copy of passport information pages, stored separately from your passport.
- Cuban visitor visa (tourist card). Most airlines facilitate visitors visas for travelers; either included in advance fees, or for purchase at the point of departure. For some countries, travel visas must be requested in advance through the nearest Cuban Consulate or Embassy. Check in advance with your airline for details.
- Evidence of medical insurance coverage in Cuba to comply with Cuban immigration requirement. Are you familiar with how your medical insurance is activated in Cuba? If not, it can be very helpful to ask in advance to know if a) services are expected to be paid locally and claimed on return to your country of origin, or b) if you present your insurance policy or boarding pass locally to have services paid by the insurance company in Cuba. You should also know c) the limitations of the policy’s coverage. You don’t want to be worrying about this detail in Cuba where communication can be more challenging.
- Invoice from WoWCuba / MacQueen’s Island Tours (electronic version OK) with contact info..
Money: Cuba is still very much a cash society. How much cash to bring varies greatly depending on your spending habits, souvenir purchases, etc. If you have a non-US (or affiliate) bank issued credit card you may be able to use it for purchases or cash advances in Cuba. With 24 hours advance notice, we offer an emergency cash advance service to participants if required. Please visit our Currency page for more details. Don’t bring US currency to Cuba as it’s subject to a 10% levy.
Photography & Electronics: Hand check phones, cameras, laptops and electronics. Bring spare batteries. Electronic, GPS or radio communications equipment is forbidden but cellular phones and cameras with sps technology are permitted. See the official Cuban customs website for further details. See our Trip Planning Resources for space-saving telephone travel app & translator suggestions for Cuba.
General Clothing: Informal, breathable quick-dry fabrics are recommended for riding clothes. Selecting travel-friendly fabrics that don’t require ironing’s always nice. Who wants to spend time ironing when traveling?
Essential items to pack:
- Swim wear.
- Walking shorts and/or tights.
- Several tops interchangeable with.
- A minimum of one pair of pants or wrinkle-free dress/skirt.
- Bring a hoodie (day) or versatile sweater (night) for possibly cool mornings and evenings.
- Bike/Smartwool socks & underwear.
- Comfortable biking shoes/sneakers/sandals for riding, and some good walking shoes and/or sandals for the rest of the time. Especially for women, some of the newer Crocs sandal models can be versatile space-savers for moving between beach, pool, shower and outdoors for day/night.
- A compact hat or cap for sun protection when not riding. There are some nice handmade hats to be found in Cuban markets, if you prefer to travel light/support Cuban artesans instead.
Bicycle Clothing: You might get by with general clothing, but there is a reason for the cycle clothing industry. We recommend:
- ∙Accessories: Sunglasses, Gloves.
- 3 cycle jerseys and 3 pairs of padded shorts. If you’re worried about chafing or being uncomfortable “down there”, invest in some Chamois Butt’r cream (female and male versions).
- If you use a clipless pedal system, bring your shoes and pedals and we’ll install them.
- If washing out bike gear/other clothing after use, blow-up hangers or one of those awesome compact stretchy braided drying lines and some powdered detergent or shampoo can be useful. Remember: not all accommodations have laundry facilities on-site or dryers, so if you’re not washing your own, then in our experience it’s best to deliver clothes for laundering on arrival to the property programmed for any 2-night stay. They usually charge per piece (not per load).
- Showers may occur anytime, but rain gear is only recommended in the rainy season, May – October. They’re sometimes hard to find/out of stock, but the Cuban art-themed umbrellas that the Cuban cultural company Artex produces and sells are excellent quality, spacious for 2 and a wonderful souvenir.
Cycle Gear: No special gear is required, but feel free to bring your favorite saddle, clipless pedals and helmet. Helmets are included but odd sizing (especially XL) may be limited. We recommend you bring your own lock, pump, tire irons & multi-tool for minor repairs.
Toiletries & Medicines:
- Cosmetics: look for moisturizer/sunscreen brands with higher spf, waterproof features for riding. Consider buying reef-safe sunscreen products for snorkeling areas. As a responsible traveler, please take that initiative and be conscious about how important it is to reduce your impact and conserve ecosystems.
- Insect repellant.
- Prescriptions should be clearly labelled and in your name.
- Travel packages of tissue better than carrying a roll of toilet paper around), feminine hygiene products.
- Imodium or alternative natural anti-diarrhea medicine, Glycerine tablets for constipation.
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen for pain/fever.
- Ginger (natural) or Gravol (pharma) for motion-sickness, nausea.
- Antibacterial hand cleaning gel.
- Toothbrush/toothpaste, floss.
- Some conscious travelers check their own 3-in-1 ecologically-friendly shampoo/conditioner/bath gel and help reduce single use plastics in hotels that haven’t introduced a better solution yet.
- Cycling waterbottle and/or Camelback. For a fee of just $10 CUC (plus the cost of the water, which is usually $1.90 CUC/unit), we are happy to pre-purchase 5L units of bottled water for rides, deliver that supply daily to each property and ensure the bottles are later recycled. Water supply can sometimes be irregular, and our guests are usually happy to have us take care of this item in advance on their behalf. If interested in this service, just let us know how many bottles you’d like us to purchase, and you will reimburse that fee in cash to CicloCuba when outfitting. We urge you to consider safe, ecological drinking water options for the rest of the water you’ll consume while traveling. Boiling water & adding iodine isn’t always practical or palatable. Check out these modern ways to keep your footprint minimal while away from home.
Towels: Towels are provided at hotels but facecloths often are not. A beach towel is recommended for some out-of-hotel bathing or snorkel stops (such as Caleta Buena or the Fish Cave near Playa Giron).
Ear Plugs: Cuban music may lose its appeal at 1 AM, so if you’re a light sleeper, ear plugs may be desired.
110v Adapter: Some hotels are 220v so a 110v adapter may come in handy.
Gifts: We recommend only giving gifts after a rapport has been attained and when appropriate. Cash is a much more practical way to remit gratuities to those who have provided you with a service. In our experience, indiscriminate handouts send the wrong message and often encourages children/people to beg, not engage in meaningful work. We strongly recommended that donations of school or medical supplies be left with a responsible non-profit organization or person for distribution. We can make suggestions if required.
Luggage: Pack all allowable necessities in your carry-on luggage. Checked baggage restrictions by most air carriers: 2 suitcases with a combined weight not exceeding 20 kilos per passenger is typical. Liquid restrictions may be in place. Allow room for purchases and remember, most people over pack.
Last But Not Least: Your sense of adventure
Tourism is based on the Convertible Peso (or Tourist Dollar). While $1.00 CUC = $1.00 USD (about $1.03 with bank fees), it’s advisable to bring Euros, Canadian dollars, British Pounds or Swiss Francs, as there is a 10% additional fee for converting US dollars. Credit cards from Canadian and non-US banks are accepted while US credit cards are still not able to be processed in Cuba. Travelers cheques are not widely accepted. Emergency cash advances can be made locally on Visa/Mastercard by a WoWCuba/MacQueen’s Island Tours representative at a 10% surcharge. Please visit our Currency page for more details.
Gratuities on self-guided trips are payable locally and we urge you to be as generous as possible in your support of locals who are providing you with services. More info on Gratuities in Cuba
Cuba is generally very safe but petty crime does exist. Because most Cubans are so friendly, it’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. You should use common sense and take the same precautions as you would in any country. Your physical well being should be very secure, but your camera or hand bag may not. Don’t leave your bike unattended. Even if locking it, ensure it’s under the care of an official parking attendant or in a locked room.
For individual travelers there’s no significant savings to prepaying a taxi versus laying locally and unless you’re traveling as a group, the latter is usually what we recommend as the least bureaucratic option. Take an official taxi and agree on the fare for your route in advance. We’re happy to provide estimates for your route as a guideline.
Use the safety deposit box in your room
Carry only small amounts of cash in your purse/wallet – use a money belt for extra cash & larger bills
A passport is the best form of ID for most credit card transactions
Keep passport/travel documents in a designated side pocket of your luggage while traveling so that they don’t get misplaced during packing and unpacking
Don’t wear flashy jewelry
If renting a car, before or after your cycle tour, keep your valuables under the seat and if you pick up hitchhikers, don’t ever leave them alone with your possessions
When parking your vehicle, always leave it under the surveillance of an official (with badge) parking attendant
Always be aware of your surroundings
Use simple common sense!