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Driving in Cuba - queries

Western Australia...
Level Contributor
726 posts
3 reviews
Driving in Cuba - queries

Hi everyone

We have 11 full days in Cuba starting on September 14th. We had initially planned to spend most of that time in Havana and then go across to Matanzas for a few days - with day trips to Varaderos. Keeping it safe and chilled :)

However, since reading an article about a self drive trip from Havana to Trinidad (return) this is something we would definitely enjoy doing (open to suggestions for a route to take).

I've read a few responses on this forum re: driving but some are old posts so thought I'd ask the question.

My concern is that mid September seems to be hurricane season with potential rain - is driving in this type of weather safe - for the road conditions etc over there?

As background info - we've driven all over Australia (pot holed, corrugated gravel and sand tracks) over the last 10 years and will also be spending 2.5 months in a camper van throughout Europe before we land in Cuba (so will be used to the L-hand drive by then hopefully). Also have very (VERY!) basic Spanish (been going to classes over the last couple of years off and on).

So just being cautious about an unknown quantity here - unfamiliar country, unfamiliar roads, unfamiliar weather conditions possibly etc - by asking the question.

Other queries I have:

- re: car hire - can anyone recommend a reputable place in Havana that they've used or heard of please.

- Is pre-booking needed or is it easy enough to turn up to a hire place and do the deal?

- how much should we roughly budget per day for car hire? Fuel?

Any advice on this query - including ideas for a road trip would be most welcome!

thanks!

East Coast
Level Contributor
2,203 posts
2 reviews
1. Re: Driving in Cuba - queries

Others will be able to provide you with more info. Some Cuban roads are pretty bad. The road between Havana and Trinidad is probably not bad. However you can see anything on the Cuban roads from bicycles to horse and buggies to pigs and goats, and what I mean is, all of this is quite common to see. If you drive at night there is very little lighting and all of the above will still be on the roads but not lit up. There are limited road signs in Cuba so take a good map. If you have an accident in Cuba and someone is seriously hurt or killed, until the accident investigation is complete, you, as the driver may not be able to leave the country for weeks.. Renting a car in Cuba is quite expensive. You should be able to Goggle the rates.

Many folks find renting a taxi and driver is a much better way to travel.

Have fun whatever you decide!

St. Moritz...
Destination Expert
for St. Moritz, Engadin St. Moritz
Level Contributor
4,878 posts
444 reviews
2. Re: Driving in Cuba - queries

We have taken this into consideration for our recent (3rd, two went bad with rental cars for several reasons) trip to Cuba but with respect of all the problems and the costs decided for private transfers with a taxi. We had those arranged in advance with Taxi Vignales (Carlos, the customer care agent is very nice and helpful) and have been very much satisfied. All our drivers have shown up on time and have been very reliable and safe drivers. As we did not use the car during days at beach resorts, but just for transfers, this variant came less expensive than renting (which is expensive by itself, plus add the expensive insurance and fuel) and another advantage is that everybody sees the landscape and can relax and nobody has to drive. Roads are really badly signed and you will have difficulties to get directions as you may ask people not owning a car and thus not really being able to help you. And their speed-fire Spanish is hard to understand. I had never a problem in Argentina, but had to ask again and again to repeat slowly when spoken to.

Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
1,600 posts
3. Re: Driving in Cuba - queries

Ditto on posts 1-2,

I drove a semi-truck all over North America for many yrs, thought I'd seen every stupid stunt going, until I went to Cuba.

It would be much more enjoyable , safer and likely cheaper in the long run to use taxis.

Chris

Western Australia...
Level Contributor
726 posts
3 reviews
4. Re: Driving in Cuba - queries

Thanks for the advice so far. I come from Sri Lanka so know about crazy driving and sharing the road with the unexpected - tho' hubby is more game than me to actually drive in those conditions :)

We don't plan to drive at night either.

I would be very interested to hear from people who've done this particular stretch in these weather conditions.

I would also love to hear from people who've done this sort of thing recently - been avidly reading some of the advice that has been given to others planning to drive - but haven't read a trip report of someone who drove recently :)

THANKYOU!

Caimito, Cuba
Level Contributor
21,282 posts
27 reviews
5. Re: Driving in Cuba - queries

Yes September is hurricane season - but the chances that you will encounter really bad weather is quite slight. And if there is a storm coming, most Cubans will be following that on the news broadcasts. If you do get caught in bad rain, slow down - or even stop and let it pass.

One problem with the motorway is that parts do have pot-holes - which you might not see if the road is covered with water.

As mentioned, do not drive at night.

Reports have been that it has not been easy finding rental cars in Cuba - I don't know if that will still be the case in September.

6. Re: Driving in Cuba - queries

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