This post is geared towards the traveler who is a citizen
of the United States.
However, because it is general in scope and may be used by others.
Most do not come to Cuba with the goal is surfing the web all day or just laying on the internet. However, communication with family and friends is important so yes, even in Cuba you will rely on the internet to stay connected. Ditch all of the negative information you may have heard about how bad the internet is. While the speeds may not be as robust as some countries, it is acceptable in allowing you to connect.
At various times during my treks to Cuba at one time or another I have had many of the major carriers (Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile). As technology has improved they have gotten better in offering special pricing to places like Cuba. This surely beats the old-fashioned way of having to purchase a phone or device that only works during your stay.
My current carrier, Consumer Cellular offered special pricing but I decided to opt against it….and I am glad I did.
YOU CAN USE YOUR DEVICE IN CUBA.
All you need to do is purchase an internet card.
ETESCA is the communication company in CUBA. They have offices all over the island. Simply look for the blue buildings. Once you arrive in Cuba you will see folk of all kind on the internet. Usually they are at designated hotspots, which are plenty. The trick is finding one that is close to where you will be staying or during your travels.
BE CAREFUL AS PRICING VARIES
The cards vary in denomination. Usually there are $1 CUC cards good for 1 hour and $5CUC cards good for 5 hours. However, the cards can be a bit tricky as after use YOU MUST TAKE CAUTION TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE COMPLETELY LOGGED OFF. Otherwise, you might think your session is over and when you attempt to access the card, you will find there is NO TIME REMAINING.
They are also available from street vendors. While it may appear to make sense – buyer beware and use common sense. I have never had this experience and simply conform to the basic way of obtaining. I guess I am just too chicken to purchase a card on the street only to find there is no time remaining or less that what I thought I had purchased…….plus, the seller is long gone!!!! Two common places where you can obtain are:
Etesca offices – expect lines and a little wait or if you are lucky and approach the guard and have exact money, he may do you a favor and go inside to grab your card.
- Once inside, simply ask for the denomination you wish.
- Present your passport to the clerk.
- Your card will be registered via the computer and you will be handed the card and a receipt.
- Instructions on how to use the card listed, so read and get a good understanding on how to use.
- To access the internet, you will need to go to a hotspot (just ask someone or wherever you see lots of folk accessing their devices).
- Most hotels also use the Etesca card but do not be surprised if you need to purchase yet another card for that location (Nacional Hotel of Cuba).
- The cost at the hotels are usually $4.50 per hour but be gladly surprised if the cost is lower. At one hotel in Trinidad the cost was $1.50 for 1 hour.
- Some hotels will sell you a card but insist you purchase something before you can use your card.