Cuba with kids

Is Cuba really suitable for kids holidays?

Travelling with kids is always tricky – depending on what age they are, there are certain things which parents require to make holidays with children easier. Here’s our guide to how to handle Cuba with kids.

Many parents opt for packages because they know that the big providers like Thomson specialize in child friendly holidays. A typical parents holiday wish list might be.

• Relatively short journey time – leaves less time for tantrums and ‘are we there yet?’
• Crèche or babysitting facilities with safe CRB checked staff who you can trust your children with
• Entertainment such as a kid’s club
• All-inclusive so you don’t need to get your wallet out every time they want an ice cream
• Easy access to pharmacies so you can get medicines or sun cream
• Good/free medical care
• Safe!

Cuba doesn’t necessarily tick all these boxes as it’s a long haul destination and lacks some of the amenities that many people take for granted. However it is definitely a very safe place to travel so if you have always wanted to visit Cuba don’t let having small children hold you back. We saw families with children of all ages there, and even a hardy couple who took a stroller on a hike! Cuba is famed for having excellent medical care – it’s just the access to pharmaceuticals which can be tricky.

Come prepared

Pack everything you could possibly want for a trip to Cuba. That includes a trip to your GP/doctor to check if there’s any medicines they might be able to provide on the basis that a Cuban drugstore might not stock them.
The heat is your biggest enemy so ensure that you have adequate sun protection (hats, sun cream) as well as rehydration treatments should they be necessary.
If you’re bringing a baby monitor, pack it at the top of your suitcase in case customs want to check it out – walkie-talkies are illegal in Cuba.
Car seats aren’t mandatory in Cuba so you’ll have to bring them if you plan to hire a car.

Which ages is Cuba most suited to?

Obviously parenting is a completely subjective experience and there’s every chance you might completely disagree with our advice. We’d recommend that Cuba is a better destination for children of 6+. In Havana many of the toilets are barely working at all – let alone equipped with baby changing facilities – so it all depends on how bold you are feeling.
If you do happen to take a baby to Cuba the airlines should provide a cot and can help with heating up bottles. Shops carry diapers but you are advised to take everything you think you will need as supplies are generally scarce due to the embargo. Take any food that the baby needs or is used to – baby snacks or formula milk are hard to find or may not be the brands that you are used to.
The great thing is that Cubans love small children and will bend over backwards to help. If you are worried about how you will cope just realize that Cubans manage to make things work with babies and small children so you can too.
On the negative side, Cuba is a country where simple things can be difficult such as getting bottled water or money from the bank. If you find life tiring enough already then you may not have the extra energy that travelling to Cuba requires.

Decide which part of the island to visit

If you want a package holiday you’ll probably be headed towards Varadero, a huge beach resort on the north coast of Cuba which is an hour and a half away from Havana. It has its own airport – Juan Gilberto Gomez airport.

Varadero is probably the most child friendly part of Cuba due to massed white sands, warm and placid waters and some of the largest hotels on the island. There’s lots for kids to do here including snorkeling, horseriding and a nearby crocodile breeding farm. If you have booked a package in Varadero it’s easy to do a day tour off Havana too.

Havana is not obviously child friendly due to its size and chaotic nature – that’s not to say that adventurous travelers who are willing to put up with a bit of discomfort wouldn’t enjoy sightseeing their with children. There’s lots of interesting museums here including the chocolate museum and the Casa de Africa. Pirate forts and the characterful streets of Habana Vieja are fun for kids to explore, while a tour in an old classic car is sure to delight. If you want to get a hotel with a swimming pool be sure to book well in advance as demand is high. There’s also use of the facilities at the Copacabana in Miramar, the area of the city with the most beach access.

Viñales does work as a child friendly destination. Activities for kids include horse riding, natural swimming and visiting the caves.

Trinidad is a picture perfect colonial city with cobbled streets which is great fun to explore. There’s an old train which you can take through the sugar cane fields, and the Playa Ancon, which is one of the best beaches on the island, is a 20 minute drive away and offers plenty of watersports. A coco taxi or horse drawn cart are also fun ways to travel round with kids.

What to eat

Food is a little unadventurous in Cuba but if your kids like cheese sandwiches this is the place for you. Fresh tropical fruit though is plentiful so that’s a great healthy option.

Kids food Cuba

Fresh fruit helps brighten up kids meals in Cuba

Culturally there is no issue with breast feeding in Cuba.

Child friendly activities in Cuba

Cuba doesn’t really do theme parks, trampoline centers or any of the high octane activities which children from America or Europe might be used to. They do have a few zoos – though be warned these do not conform to the standards you might expect in other countries and are usually depressing affairs which border on animal cruelty. Baseball games are a good bet – Cubans love baseball and the games have a great atmosphere which makes for a fun day out.
Mostly though you’ll be able to find entertainment just wandering around. Havana is full of street performers, musicians and clowns so some of the most magical moments will most likely be unexpected!
If they can’t live without their games then make sure you download anything before you go as the internet is patchy and hard to get. It is a good opportunity though to have some family time away from devices!

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