What comes to mind when you think of Cuba? I imagine it to be something along the lines of gorgeous Caribbean beaches, rum cocktails, and plenty of dancing. Does that sound about right to you?
If that’s what you think of Cuba, then you’re on the right track. Cuba is a beautiful country with pulsing energy, and it’s a great vacation destination even for solo travel. However, as a female traveler, it’s important to be aware of some of the cultural differences you may encounter while you’re there.
Be prepared to relish your vacation in this Caribbean dream! This article will help shed some light on traveling as a solo woman in Cuba based on personal experience and what I’ve heard from others. By knowing what to expect, you’ll be able to maximize your enjoyment in Cuba.
Solo Female Travel in Cuba: What to Be Aware Of
Dealing with Unwanted Attention
Although Cuba has reasonably low violent crime rates, experiencing harassment while traveling alone here is pretty common. You can expect to be catcalled, beeped at, and asked personal questions about your relationship status or where you are staying. Don’t worry too much, as I have learned that most of the harassment is harmless. However, it is certainly annoying and can feel intimidating at times—I say that from first-hand experience!
So, how do you deal with harassment from men in Cuba? The best way to deal with it is to ignore it. Most often, if you do not engage with the harasser, he will carry on with his day and let you carry on with yours. If you get asked personal questions, simply don’t answer them. In particular, if answering a question could compromise your safety, like letting someone know where you’re staying, certainly do not tell them.
I remember speaking to an older Cuban woman about the levels of harassment I’d experienced during my time in the country. Her response? The day she doesn’t get catcalled in the street, she’ll feel that she has become ugly! So, I suppose another way to deal with it is to just take it as a compliment, say thank you, and brush it off. That seems to be the approach of the locals!
Try to Make Friends
Cuba is different from a lot of other countries in that it doesn’t have many hostels. For the most part, accommodation is found either in luxury hotels or in casas particulares, which are guesthouses often located in people’s homes as an extra source of income. Casas particulares are the most budget-friendly options; they’re also a great insight into Cuban life, as you are typically staying in someone’s home. However, the lack of hostels can make it more difficult to meet fellow travelers, so you’ll need to make more effort if you’re looking to make friends.
If you see a group of people who look friendly and look like they may be traveling too, don’t be scared to approach them and ask if you can join them for a drink. The same goes for the locals if you speak Spanish, as they are generally super friendly and welcoming. You’ll find that most people are open to making new friends as well. If you’re lucky, you might make friends with fellow travelers in your accommodation, even though it’s not a typical hostel setup. I was lucky enough to meet a great group of folks who accompanied me for the rest of my trip. All that being said, it’s always best to keep your wits about you before getting too comfortable or having one too many!
Organized tours are also a great way to meet people, as are free walking tours. You can pretty much guarantee that you’ll find some fellow backpackers on tour. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself! After spending a few hours with them seeing the fantastic sights in Cuba, you’re likely to have something to chat about, too.
Most Important Rule for Solo Female Travel in Cuba? Enjoy Yourself!
You’ll have a great time in Cuba as long as you want to have fun. There are loads of things to do, and no shortage of fun people to meet, either. Book a bar crawl, do an organized tour, dance the night away, and enjoy the culture of this fascinating country. Make sure to enjoy yourself and not be put off by the harassment or the fact that you’re alone. Be confident, and don’t be scared to walk away from situations where you don’t feel comfortable!
Looking for more inspo to plan your Cuban getaway? Check out Trinidad: Cuba’s Historic Gem