Are you thinking about planning a family vacation to Cuba? It’s a popular sunny spot for travelers because of the culture, food, fun and pricing. To make the most of your vacation, here are some things to ask before you formalize your booking:
(1) How far is the resort, home rental, or hotel from the airport?
Some hotels and resorts are hours away from the airport, which means after a day of air travel, you’ll now need to shuttle to your place of stay. While this might not be an issue for those traveling with older children, if you’re planning a trip with toddlers, you might want to choose a hotel that is closer to the airport.
We stayed at the Grand Memories Santa Maria which was located two-hours from the airport. The hotel van stops at other hotels and resorts along the way so this is a big factor to consider if you’re traveling with young children.
On our trip back to the airport, we even had to make stops for people who needed the washroom so the voyage was even longer. It’s best to be prepared and know what you’re booking. Again, this didn’t pose an issue for us because we only went with the 12-year-old.
(2) What amenities are up and running (including restaurants)?
As with any holiday destination that’s affected by weather, we always recommend that parents inquire about storm recovery before booking your trip. While most resorts are up and running within days (or weeks) of major hurricanes and storms, this doesn’t always mean that you’ll have access to all pools, restaurants, activities and amenities. Double check before you book just to ensure that the main reason you’re traveling to Cuba (for performances, boat excursions, kids programs etc) is operating during your planned travel dates.
(3) How big are the rooms?
We recommend reconfirming your room selection via an actual phone call to the resort if you’ve booked through a website. While many online sites describe room size and show images, a lot of times they’re not always to scale. If you’re traveling with a large family (especially if you’re with toddlers or babies) you will want to ensure that your room choice accommodates your needs). Ask them to put a note on your file if you require adjoining rooms or a suite-style sleeping area.
(4) Research your resort and previous hurricanes/large storms prior to booking
If you’re booking a trip to Cuba well in advance of storm season, it’s impossible to know if your trip will be affected. That said, you might want to conduct some research about your preferred resorts recovery process in case of natural diaster. Although no two storms are the same, this will help you get an idea of how quickly your hotel or resort gets up and running and what previous travelers experienced.
During our stay in Dec 2017, repairs were well underway and staff were happy to be back to work. Supplies were fully stocked and food was ample.
Most hotels in the area were open, but some areas on property remained closed (certain wings or floors, for example). Also, hotel staff say they really focus on getting main areas up and functioning first so find out what that would mean for your stay (for example, did you book a quieter area or wing)? For us that meant certain pools were open while others were closed.
(5) What is the current/tide like at the beach?
If you’re taking your kids to Cuba it’s always good to research the water current in your area. A lot of travelers will post about their experience with the waves near their hotel. We’ve been places where the current was so intense that no one went into the water near the hotel so we had to travel further down the beach. If this could pose an issue for your family, simply book accordingly. It’s a safety issue for those with toddlers and small children so be sure to look into this no matter where you vacation.
(6) Is tap water in Cuba safe to drink?
This is the most popular question we receive on our blog (other than where to vacation with kids): what should families do about local drinking water? The answer is simple: know in advance if the tap water is safe to consume (call your specific hotel and read reviews). If it’s not, and you’re traveling with infants/babies who require sterilized bottles, soothers, breast pumps (pretty much everything), you might want to save trips to those places until the baby is older. If you’re traveling with toddlers who tend to drink their bath water and suck their tooth brushes (and so on) either opt for showers only or, again, wait to book these locations until kids are older.
If your kids are fine drinking bottled water, brushing their teeth using bottled water etc. then you’re usually good to go. As always, check with your child’s pediatrician if you have any further concerns.
In Cuba, the tap water is most often potable and safe for bathing, tooth brushing, washing dishes, etc. Bottled water (readily available at resorts and hotels) may be preferred for drinking and preparing formula, mixing cereal, etc. But, we advise calling your specific hotel to confirm.
We also recommend preparing for stomach upset BEFORE you leave on your vacation (meaning stocking up on familiar medications and treatments).
(7) Is Cuba safe for families with young kids?
Millions of tourists choose Cuba as a vacation destination. Aside from having your routine vaccination schedule up-to-date, no additional shots or vaccinations are required to visit Cuba. Some choose to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A & B but speak with a doctor about any concerns.
The CDC reports no known risk for malaria in Cuba, but protection from mosquito and insect bites is recommended.
Overall, Cuba is an extremely popular choice for family vacations. There are a ton of great hotel options, flights and excursions. Happy travels!