Since the deterioration of relations between Cuba and America, there were no commercial flights operating in this sector. However, flights to Cuba arrive frequently from the other two countries in North America. The Jose Marti International Airport receives flights from Toronto and Mexico City. Many countries in South America are also connected to Cuba by direct flights. Recently, American Airlines has started flights to Cuba from Miami and Los Angeles as well. Reaching Cuba isn’t that difficult but the airports can be a major hassle.
The officials are more like thugs and make sure that you do not store any valuables in the luggage. More often than not, they open the luggage and confiscate anything of value. Few cruises and passenger boats arrive at Cuba but this is fairly irregular. Private yachts are not a common sight but some of them can be seen at the public marina. There are no restrictions in terms of visa for yacht owners and passengers and a few well rolled bills should be enough to grease the officials.
Before you plan your trip to Cuba ensure that you sort your visa issues out. People from most countries in the world require a tourist visa and might have to go through various procedures to get them. These days a visa can be acquired from the airport itself but the problem is that many flights require a valid visa for boarding.
In reality, a Cuban visa is nothing more than a small piece of paper. It would cost somewhere around CUC 15 and 20. You can extend your visa while you are staying in the country and each trip cannot exceed more than 60 days. You will receive a visa which is valid for 30 days each time. Moreover, you will be required to pay a tax while you are leaving the country. Ensure that you have enough money with you for this purpose. It would usually around CUC25 per person. The customs officials can be moody and while they may go easy on tourists, do not depend on it. It is always good have proper documentation and paperwork while you are in Cuba. Remember that things are never really stable in Cuba and foreigners, especially Americans are viewed with suspicion.
Taxis and buses are available all over town. However, if you are booking a hotel in Cuba then you might consider arranging a taxi through them. Air conditioned buses are available for intercity travel and these are the best option. Government and illegal private taxis are the best way to get round Havana. Cuba has only one reliable train and the tracks plus coaches were donated by France a few years ago. The line runs from Santiago de Cuba to Havana. Trains are not popular among locals and tourists alike are they are unreliable.
One of the best ways to get around the country is by hitchhiking. The government has introduced a system which is designed specifically for foreign visitors. This system is known as Amarillo and you can expect to save a lot of money. The basic concept is quite simple and you need to stand at certain points along the road where hitchhikers are picked up. There are several rest stops which cater to hitchhikers and it is one of the safest modes of transport. You might have to learn a few words of Spanish to communicate effectively with the administrator. Most modes of transport in Cuba involve a premium for tourists but the Amarillo does not. You can even reduce prices further by telling them you are a student. You need to be on the lookout for someone wearing a yellow jacket. They are the administrators or officials of the Amarillo.
Cuba is prone to hurricanes and high speed winds and the best time to travel Cuba is during the period between December and April. The conditions are by and large pleasant at this point. The humidity is quite high in Cuba during the summer and the sticky conditions can make life quite difficult. You will require everything from sun tan lotions to straw hats.