Does Cuba have WiFi? Yes, but not as freely as we are used to. During our three week trip (and the only trip I’ve never planned for, stupidly, I recommend buying the Lonely Planet Cuba guidebook), we logged on to the internet and WiFi in Cuba six times. WiFi access in Cuba differs to access in Europe / USA / most of the rest of the world because:
- There is no free WiFi in Cuba – it
- Access to the internet in Cuba is restricted and controlled by the government – remember this if you choose to log on
- Cuba is a great holiday destination but still a communist country
How to Get Internet and WiFi in Cuba
There are now three ways to access internet and Wifi in Cuba. You can log on at (or just outside) the ETECSA telecommunication centres or new parks areas, in your hotel, or (and this is relatively new and not widely accessible) at your casa particulare accommodation.
However to gain access via any of the three options above you need to purchase a card from a ETECSA telecommunications centre or a hotel which has WiFi accessibility. The card should cost 1.50 CUC / $1.50 / 80p (it has went down rapidly since 2015 where it was 4.50 CUC / $4.50) and gives you one hour of online internet access in Cuba. Remember to take your passport (you also need this to exchange cash). There will be locals looking to sell cards in the streets at an inflated rate (common for tourists to buy from them now). Summer 2017 update – Carol from Wayfaring Views is just back from Cuba and advised me that 1.50 CUC is still the going rate but 5 hour cards for $10 are also available. Maths was never my strong subject but… She says the benefit is that it cuts out waiting in queues to purchase cards. Paying for time.
How to get internet in Cuba
ETECSA Telecommunications Centre v Hotel
Not all towns have a ETECSA WiFi telecommunications centre and not all hotels have WiFi (see below for information on hotels in Cuba with WiFi). You’ll spot the ETECSA centre because there will be a line of locals queuing or leaning against the wall. Gringos don’t have to queue for some reason so if you can get over the embarrassment you can shuffle past the line of locals. There will also be a massive pylon on top of the centre.
*Update, this rule doesn’t apply for Havana’s Obispo street centre, we were snubbed and made to join the line which is fair play. There are also computers for use (with the card) in the ETECSA telecommunications centres.
Update: WiFi in Cuba 2017 / 2016
As of 2017 some casas particulares (local’s rooms for rent, click the term for details on how to find casas) have Wi-Fi. Cuba’s internet situation is changing rapidly. You do still need the card to log on though.
As of 2015, the ETECSA has opened eight Pay – For WiFi Hotspots across parks all over the island at a cost of 2 CUC per hour.
- Pinar del Rio
- Ciego de Avila
- Las Tunas, Matanzas
- Villa Clara
- Sancti Spiritus
As of 2017 there are now hotspots throughout the country, here’s an extensive list. These spots are to offer internet in Cuba for tourists as well as locals.
Have you seen any, tell us about it in the comments below, we’re excited!
Viñales – internet in Cuba for tourists, no different for locals
Hotels With Internet Access in Cuba
The more expensive hotels in the likes of Cuba’s capital are the hotels with WiFi in Havana. The same goes for Trinidad. These hotels tend to sell the Nauta WiFi cards but you must buy a drink with it which makes the experience a tad more expensive. The hot chocolate in Iberostar, Trinidad is lovely though and the air con is desirable. This rule is per card so if you buy two cards you are required to purchase two drinks.
Wow, a different story Havana WiFi! Hotel Sevilla charged 8 CUC / £5.23, don’t be a mug! You use the same card so buy one at the centre if you can afford the time to queue and just use it in the hotel lobby (we weren’t questioned when we did this). Fun fact – this hotel has a pool that cheapos like us can use for 15 CUC / £9.81 (you get 12 of this back to use as credit at the bar). Iberostar Parque Central is not as kind than the one in Trinidad, non-residents have to use the business centre, they obviously don’t want the riff raff. What stories will you make about Cuba hotels with WiFi? Come back and tell us.
Going to Cuba’s capital? Don’t miss our checklist of things not to miss in Havana!
WiFi in Cuba hotels – Sevilla
Cuba WiFi Access and Quality
Accessibility is not only restricted to where you log on but the strength of the WiFi is not always great. It’s often slow and can stop working. Apparently it had been down for four days in Cienfuegos. I did lose a lot of time online because the network dropped and I could not log out. In Trinidad, Iberostar showed excellent customer service and gave me my money back. I’m doubtful this would happen in the telecommunication centre! When we tried to use Iberostar in Havana we were told that the WiFi was playing up in the business centre.
Tapping into that Cuba WiFi in Trinidad is expensive! Remember, Iberostar WiFi login is the same as below…
How to Log On Using Nauta WiFi
The WiFi ETECSA card has a log on code and password which you score off. When you select the network you will be asked for these. Type both in and hit accept then done. That should be you online using Nauta WiFi.
How to Log Off Using Nauta
Cuba WiFi logout is simple. Type 18.104.22.168 into the search bar (if it takes you to a Google search of 22.214.171.124 ignore this and try again). Here you request to log off and click ‘cerrar sesión’. If you have not used your full one hour then the credit will be available for you to use again. So remember = 126.96.36.199. logout WiFi and save cash.
This is the only way to connect to the internet and WiFi in Cuba (2016) so please don’t fall for any scams telling you different!
Time Saver Tips – Before
You will not realised how much we rely on WiFi and 3/4G. With the touch of a button we have instant access to bus times, weather forecast, flight delays, the closes emergency rooms etc. You may want to take note of the following before you go
- Cuba TripAdvisors advice on restaurants. I really hate saying that as I love to get lost and end up where the locals do but the food is so hit and miss (and pricey) that we got bored of this option within a few days. Remember to scroll down so you capture the address. Alternatively buy a travel guidebook (not something I say often but it is a must in Cuba)
- In case of an emergency there is never help that far away so taking note of emergency rooms and doctors surgery is not required, any Cuban or hotel would be able to point you in the right direction but… you must have travel insurance. Cuba has a nationalised health care system (like the UK) and although it may be limited in some resources, the medical knowledge is up there with that of more economically developed countries. Cubans are very proud of their healthcare system. We use True Traveller for travel insurance (and I claimed while staying in Vancouver, they paid out fast and were very supportive). See if their prices are right for you too here
- Before you fly to Cuba, copy and paste information from online (Two Scots Abroad’s Cuba backlog obviously) into an email and email it to yourself. Make sure you open them when you have WiFi at home and they should be in your account ready to refer to
- Maps.me works well in Cuba (it worked offline in Canada too and I only had use of my phone when I had WiFi)
Time Saver Tips – During
- Write a list of priorities before you log on so you don’t get sucked into Facebook stalking (thanks to Sam for this tip)
- Type messages into your notes app and then copy and paste over to your email, text, Whatsapp. This will save you time
- Edit photos using offline apps before posting / emailing
- Set the timer on your phone as soon as you log on. Time flies when you are having fun
- Or be like me and embrace the holiday away from social networking, blogging and emails! WiFi Cuba 2017? No thank you – i’ll read my book instead! Check out our book recommendations below
- We always travel with a cell/mobile phone battery pack so when the battery runs low (from using maps, reading books, listening to music etc) we can plug it in and it gives the phone another charge. Anker is our go to, we have one each plus a third just for good measures. We also buy these for gifts, tip for Christmas!
WiFi in Havana Cuba – Thumbs Up!
Places With WiFi in Cuba
Here is a list of the known places where you can access WiFi in Cuba. If there are any that I have missed, do tell us and I will add. I appreciate that I am no longer in Cuba and as Dylan says ‘times they are changin’
WiFi in Havana
- ETECSA Telecommunications Centre, Calle Obispo
- Hotel Sevilla – also has an outside pool (WiFi in Havana Cuba + tanning!)
- Iberostar Parque Central WiFi for guests only in lobby, non guests use business centre
WiFi in Viñales
- ETECSA centre, close to main street
Playa Larga (Bay of Pigs)
- No WiFi (we couldn’t even get access to the bank!)
WiFi in Trinidad
- ETECSA at Parque Central
- Iberostar Parque Central (must purchase drink to use, sells cards)
Cuba Public WiFi: Pay – For Cuba WiFi Hotspots in Public Parks
This list of Cuba WiFi hotspots is now extensive and growing as the year goes on. Here is a selection of the 300+ internet hotspots
- Pinar del Rio
- Ciego de Avila
- Las Tunas, Matanzas
- Villa Clara
- Sancti Spiritus
- For a full list and map check here
As mentioned previously, some casas now have WiFi in Cuba
WiFi in Cuba Resorts/WiFi in Cuba Hotels
I would take the advertisement of internet access in Cuba resorts cautiously. We did have two computers to access the internet on at our resort, Brisas del Caribe, in Varadero but access was temperamental.
Buy the Guides
WiFi in Varadero
Varadero is a extremely popular package resort area of Cuba, Google is awash with question regarding free WiFi in Cuba, internet access in hotel bedrooms etc for this area. For now, you just have to accept that WiFi access is not a definite! According to tripadvisor there is access to the internet in the following places in Varadero.
- Blau Marina
- Blau, Varadero
- Iberostar Varadero WiFi
- Iberostar Laguna Azul
- Melia Las Americas
- Melia Sol Palmeras
- Memories Varadero
- Ocean Varadero
- Paradisus, Varadero
- Royalton Hicacos (lobby bar and pool)
- Villa Cuba
- Roc Barlovento
Our hotel, Brisas del Caribe had two PCs in the computer room which you could log on to, only one worked and it was sporadic.
Casas Particulares and WiFi
Casas particulares are a common type of accommodation in Cuba. This is when travellers stay with locals as opposed to hotels or hostels. Some casas now have WiFi! This blows my mind. You really don’t need to use Airbnb to book casas in Cuba (you can just rock up or ask around for available rooms) but I know some readers feel more comfortable seeing reviews and if you want to know if the casa has WiFi, Airbnb would be a good shout. Check out our referral code if you are new to Airbnb, you’ll get money off and we’ll get credit too!
Fancy living with a local check out our guide on casas!
Speaking Spanish is a great advantage in Cuba. We lucked out and travelled with a Brit who lived permanently in Mexico so benefited from her fluent Espanol when attempting to book casas and taxis. I would recommend taking a phrase book with you at the very least.
Take a break
If you are looking to switch off and chill out here you will want to invest in reading books and/or download music and podcasts beforehand. Here are some Cuban based and nothing to do with Cuba books for you to consider
Books (read to get in the mood)
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (I don’t think I need to explain why…)
- by Cuban Oscar Hijuelos
- Trading with the Enemy by Tom Miller, access all areas modern account of Cuba
Books (poolside reads)
- Marching Powder by Rusty Young, I loved this book. Set in a Bolivian jail which is more like a hotel for the rich, not so much for the poor offenders like British drug smuggler Thomas McFadden
- , Trainspotting, Porno by Irvine Welsh, can you do the three book Cuba challenge? Scottish writer, not for the faint-hearted
- The Girl of the Train by Paula Hawkins, easy read, expect twists
Don’t forget your phone battery backup if your phone is your book too.
Like in any country, if you are logging on to an unsecured connection so you are putting yourself at risk of hacking. Please remember that this system was not set up for holiday – makers and it is likely that it will not be able to handle an influx of new tourists trying to log on.
That is the full round up for internet and WiFi in Cuba. I hope that you have found it useful, let me know how you find the information in the comments below. Obviously there is the glaringly obvious point – you are on holiday! Maybe its time for a digital detox too? So when someone asks, why is there no WiFi in Cuba? You can assure them that there is, and the scene is changing rapido!
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Post updated July 2017