My husband and adult daughter want to go around jibacoa on small tours on a moped and want me to go too, but I’m scared to try it. Ive never been on one. Just rode a bike as a kid. cough, cough, many moons ago : Wondering If any one has done this as a beginner and can keep up with the tour or maybe it’s too risky? I’m timid but do want to try if I can. I have a regular drivers license. Is this OK? thanks for your input.
If you’ve never driven a motorized two wheeler before I’d not recommend it. The only injuries I’ve seen in Cuba have been sunburn and moped injuries. The mopeds are sometimes poorly maintained, helmets fit badly, roads are not in good condition and you’d be lucky to get a 2 minute lesson on how to operate the moped.
When we went on the mopeds…I rode on the back …my husband drove.
But last summer I bought my own scooter or moped…quite a bit larger than the ones used in Cuba …and I love it and have no problem driving it. This year I will not be a passenger ;D
Hubby broke his wrist falling from a moped in Jibacoa three years ago. A fuel truck had just gone down the road ahead of us and it had been leaking oil. Hubby skidded out - fortunately he was going quite slowly. He also hit his head quite hard - thank goodness for helmets! We were on an organized scooter tour but we wouldn’t go on one again.
Lots of people enjoy scooters, but caution is advised. Poor repair of rentals is common…I’ve seen and heard of lots of breakdowns (inconvenient, at best) and I’ve also seen the results of “accidents”. Even experienced riders sometimes fall victim to the poor roads and hazards (e.g. livestock on the road). The Canadian government advises against driving in Cuba…this little gem was enough to give me pause:
Traffic accidents are a frequent cause of arrest and detention of Canadians in Cuba. Accidents resulting in death or injury are treated as crimes, and the onus is on the driver to prove innocence. Regardless of the nature of the accident, it can take five months to a year for a case to go to trial. In most cases, the driver will not be allowed to leave Cuba until the trial has taken place. In some cases, he will be imprisoned during this delay.
Canadians should be cautious when renting a vehicle in Cuba. Although insurance is offered, coverage differs from that in Canada. If the traveller is in any way at fault in an accident, rental agencies will nullify coverage and seek damages to cover the cost of repairs. Contract agreements do not cover occasional drivers and the signatory is responsible for all people driving the vehicle. Rental agencies are government-controlled and can prevent your departure from the country unless payment is obtained. Charges associated with accidents can range in the thousands of U.S. dollars.
I know, I know…it will never happen to me!
Having seen one too many scooter accidents/injuries, we decided that it wasn’t worth the risk, and especially not since we only go for one week vacations.
If what they had to rent was an actual “moped” then all would be good.
A moped by definition is a motorized cycle with pedals.
What they rent in Cuba is Scooters, they are mostly 2 cycle engines built in China. They are pretty good and really quite fast for what they are.
If you have never ridden a motorcycle or a scooter before this is not a good idea, the rules of the road are vastly different in Cuba and you may find yourself in hotwater very quickly.
I say no. My friend was going to go mopeding with another tourist but decided not to, which saved me from having to FORBID her - too many horror stories about accidents on those potholey roads. Anyhow, the other tourist on day 3 went a$$ over teakettle and dislocated his shoulder and had to have a cast and vacation was ruined. On another trip, a Cdn tourist and her Cuban boyfriend were in an accident - she let him (after drinking) drive the moped and they skidded. Luckily, they were both fine but the scooter was destroyed, and that was very unpleasant. It’s not like Canada with the insurance in any way or form.
Hola: If you decide to moped a good rule is go on your last day. If there is any road rash it’s better to be on your way home the next day instead of wearing bandages on the beach.
… or hope that the case of “road rash” is just that- something minor.
Missing your return flight because you ended up in the hospital with injuries sustained due to a moped accident would not be a good thing!
You also need to consider the insurance implications if you were to have an accident. Here in the UK the FCO states :
In view of serious accidents that have involved tourists, you should not use mopeds or three-wheel Coco-Taxis when travelling around Cuba.
This would probably result in your insurance company not covering you.
I would avoid any moped/moto/scooter, etc. in Cuba. I have seen far too many people sitting in wheel chairs at the airport on their return to Canada. One girl was so raw, she only had on underwear and was covered with a sheet. She looked like she’d been scalded! But it was road rash!
Another girl broke her leg in the hotel driveway after hitting a patch of gravel!
In both cases, they had to pay CASH for repairs before they were allowed to leave.
It’s just not worth it.
OK then. that pretty much sums that up to a big no then. I certainly don’t want to take a chance if the odds are against me. I had my husband read your answers and he seems to agree its just not worth it. So we will skip the scooters and maybe there are shuttle buses then to the small towns in the area. Thanks again for all your help.
Wow, I can’t believe all this negative scooter talk. I never realized they were so dangerous. I met some kids a couple of years ago that had a minor crack-up, and they were being asked to pay for the damages, but it didn’t seem like a huge ordeal.
For me, riding scooters is a big part of every Cuba vacation. My wife and I have rented them in Santa Lucia, Guardalavaca and Varadero. Only once was my wife uncomfortable… on a very windy day in Varadero she felt like she might fall over. So we returned them and waited for more agreeable weather.
I suppose it’s a personal choice. If you’re a nervous driver to begin with, you might not be cut out for 2-wheel motorized vehicles. I’d suggest borrowing a bicycle instead, but you’ll be lucky if you find one with a seat and air in the tires!
friend of mine piled up with his wife a few years ago…cost him $4500 to get flown home laid out on a board …a HORROR story!
Driving a scooter for the first time during a vacation in Cuba just isn’t a wise thing to do! Go to the International Clinic in Varadero any afternoon to see the number of people being brought in with broken bones, road burns and much worse.
A friend of mine (Canadian) was killed in an accident in Varadero when a delivery truck turned left in front of her scooter. She was a very experienced driver and was wearing a helmet. Yes, accidents happen, but having them happen while on vacation can make things a lot more complicated.
FWIW, here’s the opinion of someone who’s ridden more miles on 2 wheels than most of you have probably flown:
I used to instruct the Motorcycle Safety Course for the Canada Safety Council and one of the first things we told new student riders is “Assume everyone else on the road is an idiot, no matter what they’re riding / driving. If you look, and are ready, for everyone else to pull off something stupid, that’s 1/2 the battle to surviving.”
Having been to Cuba several times, and seeing the condition of the roads there and the way they drive, even with my riding experience, I would not hop on one of those.
Having been to Cuba several times, and seeing the condition of the roads there and the way they drive, even with my riding experience, I would not hop on one of those.[/quote]
cigarnewf…I also ride, been to cuba several times, and like you, would never take the risk on a scooter in Cuba.
I’ve had the use of an old Suzuki GS750 in Cuba for several years and I’ve put an ungodly amount of kilometres on it. I also like blasting around on the scooters every now and then but I have massive motorbiking experience (much of it in developing countries) and I would never in a million years recommend a rental scooter to someone with little or no 2 wheeled experience.
As Jethro mentions above a moped is one thing, but a scooter - even the little under powered crap boxes that Cuba has - can get an inexperienced rider into a world of trouble, very quickly.
That said, if you’re not drinking, use caution, stay away from bigger towns, traffic, etc. then a person with lots of common sense can have a perfectly fine time on them. They are great for exploring off the beaten path.
So, take care, and rubber-side down!
If you’re from Canada, your auto insurance from home won’t cover you if you get in an accident. Also, the Cuban gov’t has the power to physically keep you from leaving the country if you cause any property damage or personal injury until you’ve made restitution (not sure if they actually would…pretty sure I don’t want to find out the hard way, though).