When you arrive in Cuba, your MacQueen’s Island Tours bicycle tour typically begins with a transfer to your first hotel (for those who request this service in advance as part of their package). Depending on your flight arrival time, we usually begin with bicycle outfitting (including adjustments or special installations of saddles/clipless pedals) the following day prior to the first ride. A briefing on cycling etiquette, currency, local customs and more will be provided by our bicycle tour representative on the outfitting day. Beginning with outfitting, your MacQueen’s Island Tours rep accompanies you on all parts of the tour including overnights outside of Havana, so if you have any questions or concerns including regarding tipping etiquette, please let him or her know.
With your cooperation, we try to get an early start each day to avoid the afternoon heat. On transfer days, please bring your bags to the van BEFORE breakfast, which is usually at 8:00. We urge you to travel lightly, one medium/large bag plus a carry on works best for most people. Each evening at dinner, our guide and tour leader will explain what you can expect the following day.
What to Bring
Paperwork: Passport valid for 6 months from departure date, Cuban tourist visa and WoWCuba/MacQueen’s Island Tours invoice with confirmation numbers (if applicable) for pre or post cycle tour services.
Photocopies: Copy of passport information pages
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. Allow room for purchases but remember, most people over pack.
General Clothing: Informal, breathable, drip dry cotton is recommended. Weather varies, so bring a sweatshirt, wind breaker or sweater for cool mornings and evenings. Comfortable walking shoes, sneakers and/or sandals and swim wear. Evening entertainment and activities is casual, but one pair of pants or long skirt (gender specific) is advised.
Bicycle Clothing: You can get by with general clothing, but there is a reason for the cycle clothing industry. We recommend 2 cycle jerseys and 2 pairs of padded shorts. If you have cycling shoes, bring your shoes and pedals and we will install them for you.
Rain Gear: Showers may occur anytime, but rain gear is only recommended in the rainy season, May – October.
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 may be limited.
Photography & Electronics: Hand check cameras, film, laptops and disks. Officially 2 cameras and 6 rolls of film are allowed although we’ve never heard of this being enforced. 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
Medications: Sunscreen and insect repellant. Prescriptions should be clearly labeled. Also see “Emergencies” below.
Emergencies: Imodium or other anti-diarrhea medicine, aspirin, extra tampons, travel packages of Kleenex (never get caught without a packet of Kleenex, it’s much better than carrying a roll of toilet paper around), antibacterial hand cleaning gel, a small Spanish-English dictionary or (even better) an electronic translator application.
Money: This 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. We offer an emergency cash advance service to participants if required. Please visit our Currency page for more details. Do not bring US currency to Cuba as it’s subject to a 10% levy.
Gifts: We strongly recommended that donations of school or medical supplies be left with a responsible organization or person which we will be able to arrange. While it’s rewarding to give trinkets, it does send the wrong message and often encourages children to beg. We recommend only giving gifts after a rapport has been attained and only when appropriate. If you do give gifts, ensure the recipient is deserving. We feel cash is a much more appropriate way to remit gratuities to those who have provided you with a service.
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.
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.
WoWCuba / MacQueen’s Island Tours includes standard gratuities for hotels, servers, domestics, musicians and porters on all Cycle Tours. Tips for tour staff, with whom you’ll build a personal relationship and who are the key to the enjoyment of your holiday, are encouraged and welcomed. Weekly tips for cycling holidays typically range from $50-$100 CUC per person per staff member (tour leader, tour guide, driver, tour leader) 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.
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!