Is Cuba Safe?

Is Cuba Safe? It’s a simple question but not an easy answer. We want to be careful in issuing a blanket statement of “yes” or “no” but instead offer you our experience spending three days there and let you draw your own conclusions.

Daytime

Usually when you’re walking around a major city in the daytime, you’re more likely to be attacked by people selling tours and begging for spare change than in any real danger. Neither of those is an issue in Cuba, as we didn’t see anyone selling tours of any kind, and we definitely did not see any beggars on the streets, at all. As a matter of fact, I mentioned to someone and they responded that it wasn’t really a problem because most people had the support of the government if they found themselves in a situation where they needed help.

Cuba 1929 Ford Model A

Asking for directions!

Lost? Need directions? Just stop on any street corner or ask any taxi driver and they’ll help you out. We’ve found that the Cuban people in general were happy to help and glad that tourists were exploring their city.

Nighttime

The streets are not very well lit, so just like in major cities, you’ll want to stick to the main areas at night or take taxis everywhere. We did walk around for hours at night and the streets were largely empty and devoid of people. The major people centers had police on the corners to deter any sort of criminal activity, so I’d say that just follow the same type of precautions that you would do in any major city anywhere in the world. You wouldn’t stroll idly around the streets of Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, or London alone at night, would you? So don’t do the same in Cuba.

Havana Cuba Cafe at Night

Havana Cafe at Night

Pickpocketing

We did go to some very crowded areas and I noticed myself checking my pockets constantly. The markets are full of people, and it’s easy to get pickpocketed. Our shorts had zippered pockets, so we had the phone and wallet inside of those zippered pockets, which would make it very difficult to have anyone grab our stuff. If you’ve got your wallet and phone in easy reach, you might be vulnerable. Take simple precautions. Also, we hired a car for the day with a reputable company (Old Cars Havana) so we left our things in the car for the majority of the walking tours.

Classic Car on Havana Streets

Hotel Safes

Most hotels and casa particulares have individual safes for you to store your valuables, but we left everything except our money in the room with no concern whatsoever. Would you leave $100 bills lying on your room desk? Probably not, so don’t do the same in Cuba. We left a chocolate bar every day for our housekeeper with a note “Muchas Gracias por su atención, un regalo para Ud.” (thanks for your attention, here’s a gift for you) and that seemed to do the trick. When we came back to the room there was another note in return from her with a fun towel animal.

Is Cuba Safe

See, here’s the thing. From what I’ve understood by talking to a lot of people here in the US, they seem to think that Cuba is some lawless crime filled beach paradise and they need to be afraid and extra careful. I’d counter that with saying that you, as a tourist, should be careful no matter where you are in the world. At no point in our trip did we feel in danger or out of sorts, nor did we feel like anyone was out to get us. The worst thing that I would imagine you’d encounter is being ripped off for tourist prices at local markets which happens everywhere in the world.

Havana Waiter at Restaurant

Havana Waiter at Restaurant

Go to Cuba. Don’t worry. Enjoy. Be safe.

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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4 Comments

  1. I don’t even know how to exactly respond to this rediculous post without attacking the writer for being igornant, uninformed and generally untraveled. No matter where one travels (your supermarket or a third world country) you must be vigolent against theft. Walking the streets of Havana are very safe, and might I add so are the streets of New York, London, Paris and so on, even at night! so I advise anyone traveling, anywhere, to take a strowl, wear normal pants without zippered pockets, be smart, and enjoy your travels without constant fear that someone is going to get you!

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    • Both the writer and I are in fact well educated, very informed and extremely well traveled; we have visited 39 countries in the past 4 years. I would advise you (or anyone else) to read the post carefully, especially the part where we say that Havana is just as safe as any other place in the world, and that one should leave their preconceptions of it being unsafe home. As for being vigilant about theft – which is in fact the whole point of the post – we couldn’t agree more! Just exercising the normal precautions when going anywhere would do it. Have a good one and happy travels!

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      • …enjoyed reading your post and identifying immensely. In the late 80s I made my first trip and had lots of free time (day and night) to explore. There were limitations as to where to go and what to do. In 2015 I made my second trip and had a super-great experience. …felt safe day and night and maneuvered in Habana as I had in other cities throughout the world, for I’ve traveled in six of the seven continents and have lived in two: Australia and my home base, the USA. Yes, I felt safe in Cuba and applaud you for what you wrote here, for you were “spot on! …am perplexed by what the first writer posted here!

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  2. I’ve been to Cuba 7 times, is cuba safe ? Yes it is! But like all the places I have traveled in the world you always know your surroundings. In Cuba the locals know that you don’t mess with the tourists or there families are disgraced and could end up dead ….. also the biggest problem is the drunken stupid tourists that get out of hand because they have never had unlimited alcohol available

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