The first order of business when planning your trip to newly opened Cuba is finding out which General License category you will travel under. A General license requires no pre-approval or paperwork.
There are 12 classifications of General Licenses under the new rules ordered by the President and can be found on the O.F.A.C. website. Most involve organized groups with set agendas, but two are of particular interest to Americans who desire to see Cuba on their own terms.
“Support for the Cuban People” is my favorite.
So, visit the O.F.A.C site and pick your mission. And if your mission is a mission, (religious travel is allowed) tell emigration what the lady who just returned from the island with her Bible told me. “Cuba is hungry for Jesus.”
Once you’ve selected a General License category, you’ll need to find a flight that fits your schedule. In Florida, ABC Charters flies out of Tampa and Miami not only direct to Havana, but Santa Clara, Holguin, Santiago and Cienfuegos as well. Flight schedules are on their website.. Other airports including O’Hare and Dallas-Ft.Worth have been licensed for flights to Cuba, so expect them to ramp up service soon. I use Gran Caribe Travel in Tampa who also obtains my Cuban visa and can arrange car rentals on the island.
Casa Particular – Cuban version of a bed and breakfast owned by private entrepreneurs….your money goes directly to the people. 5 star rated for safety and service.
So. You googled “Casa Particular” and found what looked to be a nice room off the Malecon in Havana. You booked two nights and left the rest of your week on the island open. You’d read some crazy travel tip advising a “book as you go” schedule for rooms. Worry not. No matter your travel schedule, Cuba’s Coconut Telegraph (thanks Jimmy) connects Casa Particular owners across the island.
Casa Particular owners, when told of your next destination will call ahead and find you a room.
At this time, travel by boat is going to take some paperwork. The State Department and Department of Commerce are issuing licenses on a seemingly limited basis. Key West to Marina Hemingway is a well use path, but look to the newly expanded 1100 slip marina in Veradaro…a Miami type resort with much better beaches. Either way it’s a day sail or a 3 hour run on your average fishing boat. But don’t let the short distance fool you. It can turn in an instant…. becoming one of the roughest stretches of the sea.