Planning For A Bike Tour Of Cuba
With a first family bike tour under our belts, we feel ready for a bigger adventure so this winter we’re heading to Cuba for a month of cycle-powered adventures.
To say that we’re excited about this trip is an understatement. Cuba has been high on our ‘bucket list’ for a long time but it’s been hard to justify the relatively expensive plane ticket from Europe. This year, however, we have some savings burning a hole in our pocket and Cuba just happens to be a good destination for a baby as well as for cycling.
Cuba is a cyclist’s dream with its fairly good paved roads and minimal traffic. -Chris & Margo
There’s no concern about traffic (there’s very little of it, and bikes are respected). The medical care is good and there’s no risk of malaria. We don’t need to camp because there’s a large network of family-run B&Bs – and that’s just as well. After all, we won’t have room for a tent and sleeping bags with 150 diapers to pack.
No, we’re not kidding about the diapers.
If you have any tips to add, please chime in with a comment. We can use all the help we can get at this stage!
Books & Maps
The only bike-touring specific book we’ve found is Bicycling Cuba. It’s a decade old but still a comprehensive guide bike touring routes across the island. Updates are available on the authors’ website.
For maps, we bought a 1:600 000 scale map of Cuba from International Travel Maps. It had the best detail. We still don’t know if it’s accurate but we hope to pick up something better when we get there. Apparently GPS systems are not allowed in Cuba, so our Garmin GPS will be staying home.
With A Baby
Finding baby-specific information for Cuba is tough. Most recommendations for families focus on older kids.
What we have gathered is that most ‘essentials’ for babies are not easily found. The UK’s FCO says:
Baby food, disposable nappies, and other baby supplies are only sometimes available in Havana and normally unavailable in the rest of Cuba; if you are bringing a baby it is best to come self-sufficient.
We expect to use about 5 disposable diapers a day and will probably also take 2-3 cloth nappies as an insurance policy. This will be challenging to pack at the start of the trip but at least the diapers will slowly disappear as the trip goes on – leaving lots of room for souvenirs!
We’ll also probably take:
- Snack food such as fruit leather for Luke
- A water filter, in case we can’t find bottled water for him to drink
- A good first-aid kit and a big bottle of high-quality sunscreen
We’re almost 100% sure that we’ll take our Brompton and Dahon folding bikes to Cuba. We have a few reasons for this:
- We want to fly direct from the Netherlands to Cuba. That means going with KLM but they charge an outrageous €400 per bike* for a return trip! Clearly this offers an economic incentive to stick within the normal baggage allowance and that means folding bikes…
- We’ll be in Cuba during high season (Christmas and New Year). Our plans may also include taking a Viazul bus and we want it to be as easy as possible to fit our bikes on the bus as normal luggage.
- Cass Gilbert went to Cuba in 2010 and published this helpful summary.
- Chris & Margo travelled the length of Cuba in 2006. They also answered 10 Questions About Cuba for us.
- Tips & tricks for bike touring in North & Central Cuba.
- Willie Weir sets the scene with sound clips and stories from his trip there in 1998.
- Rob shares very helpful tips from his 2008 tour of Cuba.
- Gili & Maya toured Cuba in 2011 and share this report.
- A 2012 trip report from Eastern Cuba.