What not to do in Cuba
Cuba is a quite diverse and tolerant tourist destination. Travelers do not need to be concerned about racism or any other kind of discrimination. Especially with regard to sexual orientation, the island is very progressive, not only in comparison with most neighboring countries. The Cuban state ensures law, order and security throughout the country. However, foreigners enjoy a fair degree of freedom of foolishness. Nevertheless, there are some rules of conduct that foreigners should definitely follow. This article addresses the most crucial rules that could lead to trouble if not respected.
Having valuables on display
Many Cubans live in economically difficult conditions. Even if Cuba is very safe, flashy valuables can become a security risk in very rare cases. It should also be considered that the pandemic has made the economic situation worse. Therefore, it is better to leave expensive jewelry and other valuables at home.
Not wearing appropriate clothing
Whereas in some country's nudism was and is an integral part of some people's lives, in Cuba you should keep your clothes always on. Nudism is completely foreign to its residents. On Cuban beaches, you will not see any women topless. Just in very rare cases, you can find foreign women sunbathing topless, mainly on hotel beaches. Often, this freedom is tolerated, but most Cubans perceive toplessness as a violation of social norms.
Cuba is almost drug-free. Even soft drugs can hardly be found. Not only the possession but also the consumption of any drug can be punished with dramatically severe penalties. When entering the country, there are regular controls with drug detection dogs at airports. So if you want to get high, it's better to stay with a fine drop of rum.
However, one should not drink too much alcohol. Although the consumption of alcohol is widespread on the island, Cubans very rarely get drunk to excess. After a bottle of rum, people do not shout or bawl. Excessive drinking should be avoided out of respect for the country and its people.
Drink & drive
Cuba has a strict no tolerance policy when it comes to road traffic. Drivers are subject to a limit of zero alcohol. Moreover, consumption in vehicles is already prohibited. This ban also includes all passengers.
Denigrate Cuba, the Revolution or Fidel Castro
Cubans are proud of their achievements, which - despite the virulent mismanagement - are quite remarkable. With respect, one should not criticize the country too harshly. Anyone who takes a poster of a Cuban national hero off the wall will certainly not end up in a torture prison. Nevertheless, one should not slander important personalities such as the Castro's. For the vast majority of people, Fidel Castor in particular is very respected.
Exchange money on the black market
Money should definitely be exchanged in banks and official exchange offices. Anyone who exchanges money privately is not only liable to prosecution, but also runs a not inconsiderable risk of being scammed.
Purchase counterfeit cigars
During round trips, almost all vacationers come into contact with Jinteros, which offer supposedly original cigars. Contrary to the quite high-quality boxes and logos with holograms etc., 99% of the products are cheap fakes. This also applies to nice casa owners who have a close family member who supposedly receives the cigars directly from the factory. Whoever buys such a box gets, in the best case, an average quality at a not very good price. Those who are less lucky will get tobacco waste or even rolled banana leaves. In addition, customs regulations should be observed when exporting tobacco products. Better save yourselves the shame of bringing such a present home.
Drink contaminated water
Under no circumstances should you drink water that is not bottled or sterilized (boiled). This also applies to all drinks with water mixed in or in the form of ice cubes. This includes fresh fruit juices in private accommodation and of course cocktails such as the popular mojito. In principle, one must be extremely careful with all foods.
Engage in prostitution
As in most countries, the oldest trade in the world is also widespread in Cuba. Over and over again, older foreigners can be observed with young Cubans. In most cases, such arrangements are tolerated. In extreme constellations, however, it must be expected that the police will step in.
Being careless or have too much trust
In Cuba, you often have to look twice to make sure everything is in order. This applies both when paying and on many other occasions. For example, before taking a cab or going to a restaurant, you should be aware of the price. Also, the one or other story of people seeking help or other people who are looking for contact with foreigners is not always initiated without financial interest.
Underestimate UV radiation
Cuba is a Caribbean country with lots of sun. Careless travelers can suffer severe sunburns in a matter of minutes, also in the shadow and even during winter. Adequate sun protection is essential, especially for fair skin types and children.
Photographing military facilities
Photographing military installations is strictly prohibited all over Cuba. Likewise, you should not bring any drones to the island without permission; if you do bring one, you can expect it to be confiscated. The same rule applies for the importation of radio equipment. For more details on entry requirements, see the article on entry and customs.
Overview of 13 things you should never do in Cuba:
- Display valuables
- Nudist bathing
- Take drugs
- Going over the top
- Alcohol in traffic
- Denigrate Cuba, the Revolution or Fidel Castro
- Exchange money on the black market
- Acquire counterfeit cigars
- Drinking not sanitized water
- Getting involved with prostitutes
- Being careless or gullible
- Underestimate UV radiation
- Photographing military facilities