Obama announced a warming of relations between Cuba and the United States in December 2014, making it possible for Americans traveling to Cuba
with specific educational licenses. Then in November 2017, the Trump administration announced certain changes, most notably that although travel under Educational Activities (People to People Travel) is still allowed, individual travelers can no longer travel without an authorized guide. People to People certified programs are designed for groups of 6 or more persons and need to be accompanied by a person of U.S. jurisdiction from the tour company that certifies the educational program. These educational trips are wide ranging and include cultural, art, dance, and music activities like our Art, Music and Dance of Cuba
or outdoor pursuits like our National Parks Walking Adventure
.Individual American Travel to Cuba is Still Allowed
While individual travel under Educational Activities (People to People) was removed in November 2017, we still offer individual travel to Cuba under the new permissible Support for the Cuban People category. In this authorized category of travel, private parties of 2-5 people simply need to maintain a full-time day schedule of educational activities resulting in meaningful interactions with local people such as our trips Havana and the Heartland of Cuba
or Havana Weekend in Style
. This style of travel, close to the ground with a local expert guide, is essentially what we already do all around the world, but with an even fuller and richer experience interacting with Cubans from all walks of life. And, at the end of the day, there's plenty of time to have your own adventures.
Commercial flights from airlines such as American, United, JetBlue, Southwest, and Delta departing from the U.S. remain readily available. In November 2018, JetBlue will offer direct flights from Boston to Havana, and direct flights remain available from common gateway cities such as Charlotte, Miami, New York, Houston, and Atlanta.Travel to Cuba Goes Beyond Classic Cars, Cigars, and Music
After years of experience in Cuba, networking and developing strong relationships with friends and partners on the ground, we cover the legal requirements for you, ease confusion, and bring you in direct contact with Cuba today. The growth in tourism during the past five years has led to an increase in capable Cuban individuals like families who invite us to stay in their homes that understand the level of service needed in tourism to accommodate traveler's expectations—although you still need to go with the flow in Cuba!
Cubans are a remarkably educated people, with a literacy rate and comparable life expectancy of the US. What they lack is economic means, which can be provided via unique, fun, and educational experiences achieved through tourism. We've been on the ground for many years now developing relationships with families, artists, musicians, and with local vendors eager to share new experiences with Wildland travelers like Mari Rosa's roadside stop to experience her Afro-Cuban heritage in her backyard for Runaway Slave Lunch
Recent developments in the private sector now provide an opportunity for cultural interactions that were not possible in the past. Private dinners with former diplomats, music performances in the homes of well-known artists, and walking tours with architects and economists are just a few of the activities that fulfill the educational requirements of legal travel. Additionally, former mid-century homes and apartments have been restored into boutique accommodations providing amazing ambiance and comfort in local neighborhoods that was not previously available.
There is a rise in Cuban entrepreneurship, and these self-starters face certain challenges specific to Cuba. The U.S. blockade leaves Cuba in a lurch for lack of steady supply chain of products ranging from building materials, medical supplies, and foodstuffs that leads to some creative problem solving. This is a unique struggle for Cubans that makes for a great learning opportunity: Travelers enjoy learning about these challenges and talking one-on-one with Cubans who are constantly innovating to make ends meet and find success.
Cuba remains one of the safest destinations in the world. In August 2018, the U.S. State Department lowered the travel advisory on Cuba from level 3 to level 2, now matching travel advisories to Italy, France, and Spain. While Cuba isn't the only country struggling with U.S. foreign policy changes, many B&Bs, restaurants, and bars are now sitting empty due to confusion and misinformation. But don't be fooled by this uncertainty; the time to visit Cuba — and bring your friends and family — is now.
For more information about our small group and custom Wildland Adventures in Cuba
Thanks to our Cuba maven, on-the-ground fixer, and lead guide, Joslin Fritz, for her insights in the content of this blo.
Keeping it wild,