Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Costs, Cuba vs. Mexico

My friend Calypso in Mexico has commented that many Mexicans who have visited Cuba find it to be expensive. I think they are probably correct. Mexican tourists would, in most cases not have the resources of Canadians and unless they could integrate themselves at least partially into the Cuban society they would be faced with the same restaurant and hotel choices as the rest of us.

Restaurant prices are higher than in Mexico. Meal prices are in the 8 - 20 CUC range $10 - $25 in the better restaurants. Cheaper choices are available of course and pizza is always cheap and available. A medium vegetable pizza is about 5 CUC or $6. Beer is excellent and costs 1 CUC in the grocery store and anywhere from 1 - 1.5 CUC in restaurants. Cuban wine is available but not as good as the Chilean wine which restaurants sell for about 12 - 15 CUC per bottle.

Walk-in rates in hotels seem to be in the 35 - 45 CUC range per day. The B&B we had in Habana cost 30 CUC per room. It was actually just a bed with private bath and shower. They asked for an additional 5 CUC each for breakfast.

The jazz club in Habana was 10 CUC cover charge per person and included two drinks. Additional drinks were about 2 CUC each.

The one fancy restaurant meal we had was lunch in a privately run converted waterfront house on the ocean in Habana and cost 105 CUC for five of us with one drink each. A 10% tip was written into the bill. It looked like a private house with no sign in front. I had two strips of tuna done just the way I like it - rare. After we ate, the manager called Roly into his office where he gave him 5 CUC (25 CUC total) for each of the tourists he had brought in. Roly gave this to me after we left which brought the bill down substantially. This was a "kickback" for our guide.

The double decker tourist bus in Veradaro is 5 CUC per person for an all-day pass and cabs are 3 CUC to go almost anywhere in town. Regular buses are very cheap. The car rental cost $276 CAN for three days and included the first tank of gas.

Just as an aside, Roly told me he has a very hard time understanding Mexican Spanish. The languages are quite different, probably because of the Caribbean influence on one or the other.

There are however much cheaper options for Cubans. There are what are known as "Peso Restaurants" where Cuban pesos are accepted. Prices in these establishments are much less than in the places attractive to foreigners, maybe 75% to 80% less. These places always have long line-ups.


  1. I've heard that too, that Cuba is relatively expensive. Yet I would still like to visit. Perhaps if I could acquire a Mexican passport I could go. I know you are Canadian, but do you encounter any American tourists there? Wondering if it's true that many break the embargo for a Cuban vacation.

  2. We met one group of Americans there. They were a "Church Group" delivering humanitarian aid. We met them in a rum and cigar sales outlet so it must be a lenient religion.

    It is my understanding that Cuba does not ban or discourage Americans, only the American Government does that. I hear many Americans travel to Cuba from Mexico.