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Transportation in Cuba

We just published article about [a href=“http://www.forumcuba.com/content.php/166-Getting-from-A-to-B-in-Cuba”]transportation in Cuba[/a] so I wanted to share with you. If anyone has anything to add we can keep conversation here in the forum! It would be interested to see your point of view and experiences with different kinds of transportation that you used in Cuba. I personally used many kinds of transportation in Cuba from Bici Taxi to rent a car and it was fun experience. Many tourist are not aware that if you do not know roads and if you are not great driver better rent a taxi person that can help you so your trip is safe and pleasant one or simply take a bus.

I rented a car once, on Cayo Coco, although it turned out great, I don’t think I will ever rent a car again. Too many horror stories. We have and will rent a car and driver/guide.

Renting a car and driver/guide I believe is one of the best options. I did it many times and it was great. I can have drink and enjoy my vacation while travelling around and be sure that I will have ride back to my hotel or casa particular.

My brother arranged a van & driver (for I think 6 of us, can’t remember). We went to Moron to visit a friend and he asked a passing cyclist if he wanted a drink of rum; the guy said no, he’s driving! Then we went on to Ciego de Avilla for a pig roast at a fellow’s home. His family (very, very extended families) were all there, and then the neighbours just dropped by to say hello (and have a drink). That day was truly the most memorable day we ever had in Cuba. I was so tired when we got home, I couldn’t even go to the bar! Always get a car & driver - so much safer and a lot more fun.

Thank you sund0g for your story. I believe that renting cab with a driver is one of the best options as well. Simply you want to enjoy and have fun as and relax.

We have done that for the past few years in the Holguin area hired a car and driver. Same driver Juan Pablo Hernandez (name shared with permission) .

We have done 1/2 days and full days with this method and quite enjoyed it. They were government cabs so good A/C … not so good shocks lol . For us after all these years it is a good way to go. Newbies I think the organized tours are really good, educational and many are reasonable value.

I have rented a car in Cuba on more occasions that I care to remember, certainly over 20 times. During that time I have been fined for speeding twice, fined for my passenger not having his seat belt on and another time because I was driving within 5 metres of the vehicle in front.

I have to say that the pleasure I used to have when driving in Cuba has gone as you constantly have to be alert to the presence of the policia by the side of the road. I probably rent a vehicle once a year now and I normally visit Cuba around 4 times a year.

A rental car is by far my favourite way to discover Cuba. It’s so simple to get off the beaten path and into cool places that rarely (or never) see tourists. IT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE THOUGH!!! Here’s a few thoughts…

VERY IMPORTANT: You should be a very experienced, competent driver who can handle a manual transmission and know how to change a tire before considering driving in Cuba. Most rental agencies have a minimum age of 21 years for drivers, for some expensive rentals the minimum age can be 25 or even higher - in any case no one who is light on experience should be getting behind the wheel.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, do your due diligence with proper research so you make an informed decision whether a rental car makes sense for your style of travel! BE AWARE THAT UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES A CAR ACCIDENT CAN RESULT IN HUGE HASSLES!!!

1.) Click here, http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/cuba then go to “Laws & Culture” and read the reminder under “Vehicle Rental” that you are totally responsible for your rental car - even if you’re not driving - and if anything happens you may not be allowed to leave Cuba until all bills are paid.

2.) Google, “Cody LeCompte” and “Damian Buksa” as examples of tourists making REALLY bad decisions that resulted in lengthy detentions in Cuba.

Bottom line: Cuba is a developing country with a road system and traffic laws much different that what you’re likely used to at home so proper research is important, especially for a first time visitor. Don’t be a dummy, travel smart!

Other Transport Options: If a rental car isn’t for you there are other options like the Viazul and Conectando Buses which is one of the few things in Cuba that works (mostly) as advertised and it services all the major centres that any tourist would wish to see on their first visit. Have a look here for some of the many alternatives for travel around Cuba:

i. http://www.viazul.com/

ii. http://www.yourowncuba.com/cuba-tours-services-transfers-guide.html

iii. http://taxivinalescuba.com/

iv. cubanacan.cu/ofertasPDF/CONECTANDOCUBA.pdf

v. http://www.umbrellatravel.com/cuba-hotels/transfer/transferOnly.aspx


That said, here’s why I love a rental car…

Fun Stuff:

1.) Picking up hitch-hikers is a gas. I’ve gone to family reunions, retirement parties, weddings, funerals and every other situation that you can possibly imagine thanks to hitch-hikers. One time I took a lady 450 km to visit her sister who she hadn’t seen in years. On their property they had a cave where we drank cold beer and fed the bats food on little pointed sticks. Another time a lady just kept driving and driving and driving with me, saying “not too much further” about a hundred times. As it turned out she didn’t want to get out of the car because she had never felt air conditioning before. She also drank like a fish, finishing off a cooler full of beer then peeing back into the cans before throwing them outside without me knowing, but that’s another story.

2.) Lock all your stuff in the trunk for security, but also so there’s more room for people inside. I have a collapsible cooler with ice and cold drinks. A bottle of water is a luxury for someone who has been baking in the sun on the side of the road for hours with small children. Having a few snacks for the kids is nice too.

3.) Getting lost is fun. If I’m not on a schedule I navigate more by compass than by road map. Who cares where you end up?

Other Important Stuff:

1.) As soon as you land at the airport buy a road map. The best is “Guia de Carreteras.”

2.) When you pick up your car be sure that every scratch and nick is confirmed on the contract. Take photos from all sides. Snag a couple of shots with the rental guy in the photo. Check the spare tire and confirm the tools are there to change it. Check the air conditioning, the radio and that all the locks work. Is the antenna in place? Do the headlights and turn signals work? Don’t be afraid to be really picky. If something doesn’t work or is missing either replace it, get them to fix it, or have it recorded on the Rental Contract so you’re not hit with the bill later.

3.) Be sure all legal drivers are listed on the Rental Contract. Don’t allow anyone to drive who isn’t confirmed on the contract.

4.) Do NOT lose the Rental Contract. Keep it just as safe as your Passport. Losing it means lots of hassle and a fine when you return the car.

5.) Always park in a designated area where there’s security. It’s cheap and good insurance. If anything happens it makes the police report very straightforward.

6.) Driving at night is dangerous and should be avoided unless it’s an emergency. Potholes that can break an axle, other vehicles with no lights, animals and everything else on the road… it’s doable, but drive slowly and cautiously.

7.) A two lane paved road in the middle of the country can simply end with no warning. Potholes can be gigantic - you don’t want to blow a tire.

8.) With poor to non-existent signage passable Spanish is a definite advantage when asking directions, etc. but if you’re adventurous you can get by with a dictionary or phrase book. (This is when hitch-hikers can be really helpful.)

9.) Use the same common sense when picking up hitch-hikers that you would anywhere. I usually only give rides to the elderly, Moms with kids or some poor soul stuck on their own out in the middle of nowhere.



Thanks Terry. Great post.

How about a photo of your favourite mountain transportation, Pedro?

Holy crap Spunky, you have a great memory! (Did the old mods delete that post too?!)


[quote=@cheersterry]Holy crap Spunky, you have a great memory! (Did the old mods delete that post too?!)


It’s still here, Terry.


I couldn’t find Pedro, the pig roast, the best bank tellers, the time exposures from the roof in Havana or the only Black member of the original Revolution who made it to Canada with his empty revolver and thought the waitresses on the flight were ugly ….
Please bring us back to this rich legacy. Or just Pedro to start, please.

Thanks Jack. I wonder if the rest are here?

I worked in some of those fields that Pedro and you walked past

Which one is you, Iggy? :smiley:


the only guy paying to work LOL
and no hat

Edit: Hope that was before Labour Day, eh?

AS a professional driver in Canada/US for 45+ yrs, a college trained driver trainer and bus company owner/operator for 30+ yrs, I spent 6 months travelling through Mexico, Central America and Cuba followed by an 11 month RTW during which time I Never touched a steering wheel, from what I observed plus the horror stories I heard, I formed the opinion that anyone [font color=“131212”]visiting a [font color=“131212”]foreign country [font color=“131212”]on a 1-2 [font color=“131212”]week vacation who rents a car [font color=“e64219”]IS[font color=“e64219”] A FOOL! P-)[/font][/font][/font] [/font][/font][/font]

Busman is right about renting when you don’t know the local situation. IMO
That’s why the Admin’s blog and Terry’s info is so important.

I would never rent a car during a two week stay in New York or Los Angeles.
At least, in Cuba, a car with driver is still an affordable option.

The thing is, for most tours, it seems cheaper, or at least the same price, to rent a car with driver as it is to rent your own own car. I know all situations aren’t the same but for most tourists, it’s a much better option

I hire a car for 14 days so it isn’t practical to rent a car with a driver. If I need to add a named driver it costs 30 CUC for the duration of the rental. It used to be 3 CUC per day and I argued the toss at 3 Via rental locations in Santa Clara but had to cough up the 30 CUC’s to add a driver.