Internet in Cuba: How to Get Wifi in Cuba in 2021

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Read the full disclosure policy here.

One of the first questions people ask me is how can I work in Havana with such slow internet in Cuba.  People are so afraid to travel here because of wifi in Cuba.

This post is long but it’s because I wanted to be thorough. TLDR: Yes tourists can get a Cuban SIM card!

Here’s the real deal, there are lots of posts about internet in Cuba. This information is usually outdated and internet changes so quickly here.

This post was last updated January 17, 2021.

Internet in Cuba is changing rapidly, every year the price decreases, more locations open up and it gets faster.

In 2016, Cuba partnered with Google to add more servers for a faster internet connection.

Cuba now has 4G service…although not everywhere yet.

I’ve based myself out of Havana for the last two years to work on a Cuban food and travel guide, yes you can actually work online in Cuba.

It’s not the cheapest or the fastest but it is possible. 

That said, please keep in mind I’m living in Havana. And sadly Havana restaurants still don’t have wifi unless they are close enough to a park to pick up the signal. 

So wifi in Havana is going to be much better, faster and more prevalent than wifi in small towns.

When I visit spots like Vinales, Varadero or Las Terrazas Cuba I only travel with my phone, not my laptop and my internet use is less intensive.

 

Do Cubans Have Access to the Internet?

Internet in Cuba, everything you need to know to access wifi in Cuba.

Absolutely! And they are just as addicted to it as we are!

With one exception, most can realistically only get it in designated wifi spots in parks and hotels.

Mobile internet is possible for Cubans but cost prohibitive, more on that below.

Cubans have permanent accounts that they access. On January 4, 2020 the price was lowered to $.70/hour for Cubans.

However, many think it needs to be $.50/hour or less. Currently tourists pay a bit more of $1 USD/hour for wifi cards.

Internet in Havana is pretty good in the central areas of Havana Vieja and Vedado where there are lots of hotels where people sit outside, or in parks.

Outside Havana, wifi in Cuba can be a bit more unpredictable.

However, the Cuban government recently announced it was rolling out nationwide Internet coverage in Cuba.

The goal is that every hotel room will have wifi in Cuba.

I don’t know what this means for expanding wifi in parks. But often locals will congregate outside a hotel – so more coverage is better for everyone.

There are currently 1095 hotspots with Cuba internet. A full list of where you can get wifi in Cuba is here on the ETECSA site, in Spanish (sorry anglophones!).

But don’t stress if you can’t read this, finding wifi spots in places tourists visit is pretty easy.

 
Yara theatre in Havana Cuba

Be Aware Not All Sites Work

Because of the US embargo some US sites do not allow transactions.

Amazon won’t allow me to send packages, iTunes and does not work in Cuba and others report Airbnb not working at times.

Make sure you download all the apps you need in advance. I’ve listed some recommendations below.

To avoid all of this I use ExpressVPN for both my phone and laptop. It means I can set my location to Miami and never worry about some sites not working.

 

Is Internet in Cuba Fast?

Yes but not as fast as the United States or Canada.

There is practically no broadband service. Wifi comes by satellite and an undersea fibre optic link so you’re sharing it with everyone else.

You aren’t going to be live streaming on Instagram and videos may need to buffer.

But Internet in Cuba is fast enough to video chat – which is what all Cubans are doing in the parks.

Seriously…they love video chat.

The strength of wifi in Cuba depends on where you go, when you access it and the weather.

The absolute worst time to access wifi is on a weekend afternoon when it’s cloudy.

And if you’re heading to Santa Clara Cuba, it’s best to just look out the window instead of hoping for internet along the way.

Remember, you’re sharing wifi with everyone else. Weekends tend to be slow as do rainy, windy or cloudy days.

After all, it is an island.

 
How to get Internet in Cuba, buy a prepaid card for wifi in Cuba and scratch off the username and password.
Scratch off the card to get a username and password.

How to Get Internet – Wifi in Cuba

Internet in Cuba is just a tiny bit more complicated than in most countries. You need to:

  1. Buy a NAUTA internet card
  2. Find an ETECSA wifi hot spot

Where to Buy a NAUTA Card in Cuba

The most difficult part of accessing internet in Cuba is the process of buying an internet card. But there are a few places you can do it.

  1. ETECSA Offices: The cheapest but most inconvenient option. Wifi cards are 24 CUP per hour. (1 USD). But depending on the location there are often long line-ups. Most ETECSA offices are open every day from 8:30am-7pm, but not all. You’ll need to bring you passport, cash and service will be in Spanish. In some places tourists don’t need to wait in line, in other places they do.
  2. Hotels: The most expensive but also most convenient option. If you aren’t confident with Spanish or don’t want to wait in line it’s often worthwhile just going to a hotel. All NAUTA internet cards come from ETECSA and buying one at a hotel doesn’t mean you’ll get faster wifi, you’re only guaranteed to pay more. It’s usually 2 USD per hour, but in touristy Old Havana a hotel may charge 8 or 12 USD/hour. However, you do not have to show your passport here.
  3. At the Park or Main Square: Often times there will be someone selling cards for a convenience fee of 1.50-3 USD/hour depending on what the person wants to charge you. Look for someone whispering tarjeta de internet as they walk by, they aren’t selling drugs, but reselling these cards is illegal so it’s done on the down low…even though everyone knows about it.  If you buy from someone in the park make sure the card hasn’t already been scratched. 

How to Access Internet with a NAUTA internet Card

It’s very easy to access internet in Cuba once you have a prepaid NAUTA internet card, simply scratch off the username and password, and logon to the site (instructions below).

All of the internet in Cuba comes from one place, the Cuban government agency ETECSA, which creates wifi hot spots around the country.

  • In parks or main squares.
  • Outside the ETESCA offices.
  • Many hotels – both inside and out.
  • Airport

It’s hard to miss a wifi hotspot in Cuba because you’ll find a group of people with their heads down staring at their phone.

 
Wifi in Cuba, this is how to log onto Internet in Cuba with an Internet card.

How to Log On and Log Off Wifi in Cuba

The good news is that when you open your wifi settings on your laptop or there are usually only a few accounts.

Hotels often label their own and otherwise it’s marked as ETECSA.

Once you connect your browser should pop up and ask you to login. If your browser doesn’t pop up, just open it and type: 1.1.1.1

The screen will update once you are connected, and give you a running time limit.

To  log off simply go back to the screen (type 1.1.1.1 if you don’t still have the Nauta screen up), click the “Cerrar sesion” button to logout.

You will receive a confirmation notice.

Sometimes when wifi is particularly bad I don’t seem to be able to logout so I just turn off wifi on my phone.

I lose a few minutes but eventually the account closes on its own.

Your card is valid for 30 days so keep it close. 

 
Cuba internet at resorts, here's everything you need to know about wifi in Cuba

Internet in Cuba for Tourists: Do Resorts in Cuba Have Wifi?

Yes, many hotels and resorts in Cuba have wifi. However, you should always ask in advance and ask how much you will receive.

Wifi in Cuban hotels and resorts isn’t the same as the rest of the world.

You need to ask your hotel for a wifi card, it will give you the login name and password for the internet in Cuba.

In many cases, hotels give a free hour of internet each day.

If you need more you can always buy more, in some cases you can buy a 5-hour internet card that is good for 30 days. 

Prices vary depending on where you buy it.

If your hotel is charging 4 USD/hour for additional wifi cards you may be better off asking where the local ETECSA office is so you can buy your own.

Note: There are several hotels currently testing providing guests with 12 hours of wifi a day resort-wide so internet on resorts in Cuba will likely improve soon.

 
Horse cart in streets of Santa Clara, Cuba

Do Casa Particulares Have Wifi?

Some do. Cubans need a wifi booster to amplify the signal from the hotspot (a nearby wifi park). 

It was once illegal to do this. The most popular way was through a Nano which cost a couple hundred dollars and smuggled into Cuba then sold on Revolico – basically Cuba’s version of Craigslist.

You can see these white cylinders all over rooftops in Havana.

In 2019, wifi extenders became legal with a license. It can be cost prohibitive to some so in some cases the extender is legal and other cases it is not.

The danger isn’t necessarily having one illegally, but people climbing to your roof to steal it.

This is how some casas are able to provide internet in Cuba for guests.

You still need to buy wifi cards and log in. The closer a casa is to a hotspot the better the wifi reception will be. 

Some Airbnb hosts will provide Nauta internet cards that guests can simply buy at cost so they don’t have to wait in line at ETECSA.

If you’d like to book a casa particular vetted through AirBNB and you’re new to the site you can use this code to save money and I get a credit too!

Some casa owners, who were already buying wifi cards so their guests wouldn’t have to wait in line, also have an extra SIM card.

They will often rent the SIM card for a small convenience fee. As internet on phones is new it’s a very new service some are quietly offering.

 
Internet in Cuba, everything you need to know to access wifi in Cuba.
Everyone sitting down looking at their phones is a sure sign it’s a wifi spot.

How to get a SIM Card in Cuba

There is cell service in Cuba. Cell phone service in Cuba is expensive, Cubans pay to make calls.

But they’ve do not pay to receive call from cell phones in Cuba or from international callers. 

But with international rates often at $1/minute it is best to keep the conversations short and call people over wifi on apps like IMO or Whatsapp.

I can’t tell you how many times I called a friend only to get a message that they ran out of money on their account.

If you don’t mind paying for time to reach someone you can buy cell credit online at Rebtel as well as Fonoma.

There are currently three official ways to get data in Cuba: 

  • Buy a regular Cuban SIM card
  • Buy a tourist SIM card
  • Roam using your data at home

 
Want $5 Your First Time Using Rebtel? Use this link
 

Each has their own merits. I’ll break down the options for you but first let’s talk about data service in Cuba. 

 
Internet in Cuba, everything you need to know to access wifi in Cuba.

Should You Get a Cuban SIM Card?

It depends on how long you are staying. It can take up to 72 hours for a SIM card to be activated. 

Data is easy to access in main cities but in between there are dead zones. If you just need to connect every once in a while a wifi card is very easy.

Unlike in other countries, buying a SIM card is complicated, costly and time consuming.

If you are visiting Cuba for less than two weeks it’s not likely worth your time.

The tourist sim card (info below) is a better option.

Also consider just buying wifi cards and finding a park as there are tons. It is a million times easier and the service is more reliable.

WILL YOUR PHONE WORK IN CUBA? 
To use a Cuban SIM card you must have an unlocked cell phone. It must also have 900 Mhz capability, usually referred to as “quad band.” 

However, if you’re around 3+ weeks and really want to buy a SIM card in Cuba and speak Spanish here’s how to do it.

  1. Visit an ETECSA store. You will need to show your passport
  2. You can buy a SIM card for an unlocked phone for 750 CUP (just over 30 USD). 
  3. It typically takes 36-72 hours to activate
  4. You can check your balance by calling *222#
  5. To add more money you can use Rebtel or Fonoma and use your credit card. Download the app before you go. Occasionally there are promotions where you buy so much and get bonus time. 
  6. This is a re-usable SIM card so you can use it again. To remain active it must be topped up once a year.
 
Santa Clara Cuba street with vintage car and motorcycle

Mobile Internet Prices in Cuba

In December 2019 the government announced new lower rates which included 4G service in Cuba.

Buying a SIM card costs 750 CUP.

You’ll then want to add any of these packages below, which are the prices for data in Cuba as of December 12, 2020.

Cuba data rates for cell phones as of Dec 12, 2020

Keep in mind mobile internet was only announced in Cuba on December 6, 2018.

They have come a long way with the introduction of 3G then 4G, expanding coverage and providing low cost options.

This is still very expensive for Cubans and many cannot afford it.

There are currently 2 million Cubans accessing the internet with mobile data.

Yet there is a huge movement on Twitter with the hashtag #BajenLosPreciosDeInternet or to drop Internet prices. 

Cubacel Talk Rates

As I said, cell service is pricey.

 

View of Hotel Nacional in Havana Cuba from the malecon seawall.

Cuba’s New Tourism SIM Card – Cubacel Tur

One of the biggest issues for tourists was how long it takes to activate the regular Cuban SIM card so they introduced a new option.

Cubacel Tur is a temporary phone number which is active for 30 days. It is more expensive than a Cuban SIM card but has these benefits:

  • You can buy it in advance online.
  • You pick it up as soon as you land at the airport rather than waiting in line at the ETECSA office in town.
  • It is active immediately unlike a regular SIM, which can take up to 72 hours.
Diagram to explain if your phone will work with internet in Cuba

The basic package costs 25 USD and includes:

  • 1G of data
  • 20 minutes for calls
  • 20 text messages

However, you must buy this in advance through either through Suena Cuba or here in German.

You pick up the SIM Card at Terminal 3 of the José Martí Airport at the CubaTur counter outside customs and immigration. 

Here they will take your code that you were sent from the website and put the new Sim card in your phone. 

At this point you can buy additional 600 MB of data for 7 USD or 4GB for 30 USD.

The only downside is that the phone is not eligible for additional top up promotions that you can get on the regular SIM card service and expires after 30 days.

 
Antique green car outside building in Vedado Cuba

The Best Way to Get Internet in Cuba

The best route is to buy an Cuba internet card from ETECSA and use Google Talk, Skype, IMO, Facebook messenger or Whatsapp.

If you need to make a phone call in Cuba landlines are still prevalent and you can use one at your hotel, resort or casa particular.

As always service in the city will always be better than in remote, rural areas so you can’t depend on it.

 
Internet in Cuba, here are mobile apps you'll need for wifi in Cuba.

Helpful Smartphone Apps for Cuba

Whether you decide to activate internet in Cuba or not, here’s a list of smartphone apps I use in Cuba and some are available offline.

Bajanda

Think of it as Cuban Uber. It’s an extremely new app where you can request a cab and get approximate fares. However you will need to pay your driver in cash.

The downside is that the first driver who responds gets the fare, unfortunately they could be up to 15 minutes away.

Google Translate

It’s not 100% correct and it doesn’t understand crazy Cuban slang, but it does work offline.

More importantly, if you need to communicate it’s good enough that Cubans will understand you.

Also if you can use the camera aspect of it to auto translate menus and signs.

Express VPN

Although there is no Cuba internet censorship like you would see in China. I did run into some issues with US sites blocking access from Cuba because of the embargo.

For example, I could view Amazon, but when I tried to place an order to my house in Canada it was denied. I also couldn’t access Amazon prime video.

Fortunately I have Express VPN, a virtual private network app, where I can mask my identity and set my location as somewhere else in the world – in this case I chose Miami.

I have heard some dissident Cuban news sites are blocked, but they are in Spanish and I don’t know what they are.

But regular news sites that are not always in favour of the government like Havana Times and Translating Cuba.

UC Browser

I didn’t find any websites I wanted to use were blocked in Cuba. However, I did overhear someone say they couldn’t log into Chrome or Gmail. and instead used UC Browser.

I’ve never had any issues, but to avoid this I’d login both before you travel and sign up for a VPN just in case.

UC Browser is a free browser created by a Chinese company. Cubans often use this browser, and it may be because the app allows you to download videos – although not YouTube.

It’s a good browser app to have in Cuba as a backup. Get it here.

Maps.Me

Although I use Google Maps as my go-to for directions, sometimes my signal is just bad, especially outside Havana.

I do download offline Google maps to my phone. But I also use Maps.me as I can access maps and directions without access. This is what Cubans use in Havana.

You can download the entire map of Cuba if you’re traveling all around the country. Get it here.

Whatsapp

The world is on whatsapp as it works on wifi and is cheaper than most data plans around the world.

It is also must-have app for Cubans, it’s similar to Facebook Messenger. You need to authenticate your account so it’s best to download it at home. Get it here.

AlaMesa

It’s described as the Yelp of Cuba with a list of paladares and ratings.

Although I suspect it’s mostly foreigners and expats reviewing restaurants so I’d take it recommendations with a grain of salt.

It’s also why I wanted to write a food guide to Havana as most recommendations are terrible. Get it here. 

Zapya

Another Cuban app essential as it doesn’t require data or wifi to work. Cubans don’t email but they still like to share music and photos.

Zapya is a file sharing app, and it doesn’t matter if the other person is on iOS or android. It’s genius and I don’t know why it hasn’t caught on elsewhere. Get it here.

If you have any other questions about internet in Cuba or think there’s something I’ve missed please let me know in the comments below!

 
 

Join the Conversation

  1. Wow that was extensive!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There’s a lot to say!

      1. Great article. I plan on going to Cuba in April. Do luxury hotels in Havana have ethernet connections in the rooms?
        [email protected]

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          No they do not but the Iberostar Grand Packard offers free wifi cards and I would expect the Kempinski to do the same.

  2. Oh wow, okay, that was one of the most informative articles I ever read. 10 points for that goes to you. Cuba is in my to-do list, I hope I will have an opportunity to visit it soon. You mentioned a lot of useful tips, so I am going to save this article for the future. I already use Nordvpn subscription, for now, it works perfectly I tried it on my trips around Europe and Asia, so I think it should be working in Cuba too.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write a comment. I spent a lot of time on this post so it means a lot that people find it useful.

  3. Cuba is a beautiful place to be but then there are some limitations that come with it. This Internet issues might just top the list from a visitor’s perspective. I heard about this from a friend of mine but a few things were not clear to me. Thanks for this beautiful article.

  4. Apart from the internet issue like you narrated…I simply love Cuba. Loved reading it throughout.

  5. I rented a WiFi hotspot from Cello Mobile.com Its not cheap but I was able to have internet with me all the time.

    1. Dan,
      We went to Cuba in January and because we stayed across the street from Hotel Capri, our Airbnb had wifi. We are looking at a new place to stay and under Internet it says pocket internet. We are not familiar with this and assume it means they supply the device but how does it work?

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Ahh yes you would have been accessing the Capri hotel’s wifi the first time.
        I’ve never heard of someone referring to pocket wifi here in Havana, the only thing I could imagine is that extenders are becoming very common to extend the wifi from the parks into other neighbourhoods. You would still need the etesca cards for wifi but generally the coverage is good. I see them everywhere now in Old Havana but they seem less reliable in Vedado, not sure about Centro.

        1. MusicCityMissy says:

          Pocket wifi is like a portable broadband from what I can tell. Most places seem to rent them and you get it and take it with you. But the place we have requested to book says they have the device and you pay $10 for 1GB to them for using it. So I don’t think you have to use the internet cards.

          1. Ayngelina Author says:

            Interesting, I’ve never seen anyone use this here or mention it.
            Regular internet is 4GB for 30CUC so the pricing seema right. If you use this I would love to see a photo and hear how it went for you.

          2. Ayngelina Author says:

            Ok so I asked around because I was surprised I hadn’t heard about this new option for internet.
            No one in Havana has heard of portable broadband and they think its a misunderstanding.
            The general consensus is that the airbnb owner is offering a SIM card and that it was a typo because “packets” of internet are $10 for 1 GB.
            It’s common for an airbnb host to now offer a SIM card and they must have written pocket instead of packet.

            If this isn’t the case let me know.

        2. Heather McAllen says:

          I came home 3 weeks ago from Cuba and followed Dan’s advice to get a cellomobile device for wifi. I got a portable mifi device or whatever they call it and had internet in my pocket everywhere we went. The bill was very high, ended up spending close to $500 because I required a lot of data but it was well worth it. Sprint is my carrier at home and they wanted like 2 dollars per megabyte which is 2,000 dollars for 1 Gigabyte!!!!!!! Speeds are surprisingly fast in Cuba, no more excuse not to go because you’re outplugged 🙂

  6. Hi, I will be in la Havana next week and will need to have an important Skype call. Could you suggest me the best place for it? Thank you!
    Fra

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Make it as early as you can in the morning and go to Hotel Capri in Vedado. You’ll need to buy a card from them for $1.50.

      Let me know how it goes!

  7. Muchas gracias:)

  8. My aunt had a heart attack on a cruise and they took her to a hospital in Cuba. My cousin flew there and is having such a hard time communicating with us. There is WiFi in the hospital but only on one floor. I have several questions. Could you email me?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Sending you an email now.

  9. Hi. Do Cubans have access to the internet at home using Cubacel?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s not normal for the average Cuban. Some of them have very slow wired service in their home but it’s rare and usually for people who work from home or have some reason to be online more often for a work-related service. Most Cubans just access it on their phones or bring their laptops to a park. However, as Google has partnered with the government I would expect that to change.

  10. Thanks for replying back! I would like to know the difference between ETECSA and Cubacel. Are they both owned by the same company? Which one provides a 3G network?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can understand, it is a bit confusing. Cubacel is a division of ETESCA which is the Cuban telecommunications company. There is only one provider of internet and it is government owned.
      The term 3G is used loosely as often I find I have no service or less than 3G but Old Havana is pretty good for service. You would go to an ETECSA office in Cuba to get the SIM card and it can take up to 36 hours to activate.

  11. Hi Ayngelina. Online English teacher here, due to fly out next Friday and only just discovered the issues with Cuban internet.
    Am I absolutely kidding myself even trying to work this out? We use Zoom in our teaching, seems to work better than Skype by comparison. What do you think?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Online video doesn’t work well during peak times. If your students take classes very late at night or early in the morning and not on weekends you should be ok.

  12. Ekkehard Keidel says:

    Thanks Ayngelina, that is a really helpful article. I´ll be there with some friends in June and was thinking about a SIM Card, but now I guess, it will not be worth the pain. And: it is also an interesting experiment to be almost out of the web for a while. I remember, that I paid a lot in Hotel Ingles in 2004 for just some mails. But as I know the Cubans – they always find solutions for everything. No problems como siempre.
    Thanks again and all the best for you.
    Ekki from Berlin/Germany

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m so glad you found it helpful!
      Getting online with wifi cards is now SO Much easier and the hotels are selling them for much cheaper. As long as you aren’t at one of the premium hotels it is usually $2/hour and there are wifi parks all over the place now.
      But I agree, it is lovely to be offline sometimes. I love how when I’m with friends in Cuba no one has their phone on the table, no one is scrolling on Facebook after dinner. It’s so much more civilized.

  13. Alex Smith says:

    I am connected on messenger with a couple of Cubans and we message occasionally I have been reluctant to video using messenger as I am concerned they are charged a lot at their end but is free for me Do you know the costs to them? I would be calling from UK and they live in Sancti Spiritus

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would guess that they are using wifi for internet video instead of data on their phone. If so, wifi is $1/hour for for Cubans.

  14. GuyInCuba says:

    CUBA IS A SHIT OF COUNTRY. I WISH THIS ISLAND BREAK APART AND I CAN GO WITH MY MOM IN USA. PLUS INTERNET HERE IS SHIT.

  15. Heather McAllen says:

    Oh, thanks so much for your writing style. I see you here and in Ben’s blog, love all you do 🙂

  16. Awesome guide, thanks, I visit Cuba quite often myself, only thing that I still haven’t figured out is why I cant use my canadian cell phones for 3G data in Cuba (I tried Galaxy S7 and Iphone XR) Even though I have a cubacel sim card, I can use it to call, but the option to buy data is inaccessible. Any idea why?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You may have one of the older SIM cards that does not have data enabled on it. I would head into an ETESCA office and ask them about it as you should be able to access data now.

  17. Hi Ayngelina,
    I read elsewhere that you can get a permanent NAUTA card that can be topped up at ETECSA offices instead of buying cards repeatedly. We are coming for two months (assuming we get a tourist visa extension). Do you know what will be required, time frame etc? Is there an ETECSA office at the Havanna airport?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There is so permanent NAUTA “card” but Cubans have Nauta accounts they they can add money to. But if you’re going into the ETESCA office anyway having an account isn’t going to save you time.

      Here are your options:

      NAUTA ACCOUNT: Hardest to get, easiest to top up.
      You could theoretically get a NAUTA account but you would need to go into an ETESCA office in Havana, there’s one on Obispo in Old Havana. The only foreigners I know that get them have Cuban partners. To be honest it could take all morning to do and you’ll need to speak Spanish because you’ll have to be insistent and it could be very annoying because workers won’t want to do it. You’ll need your passport.

      To top up you can just do it on DING. There’s a fee to do this.

      BUY A SIM CARD: Takes longer but easiest to top up.
      Something that may be easier if you’re staying that long is to get a SIM card, which you could top up using the DING app and your credit card. You’ll need your passport. They just introduced new 4G packages that aren’t horrific costwise, about the same as Canada but much more than the US. The only downside is that not all of Cuba has great cell service it depends on where you go.

      It can take up to 72 hours for the SIM Card to work. Everyone reports different experiences. But while you’re there you could pick up a 5 hour internet card while you’re waiting.

      JUST BUY WIFI CARDS: Easy to do, can’t top up.
      It’s not difficult to find or buy internet cards. In fact at ETESCA offices you can get the 5 hour cards and you can buy as many as you want.

      Often times I’ll go in and pick up 4. Also if you’re in a wifi park there’s always people who want to sell it to you. It’s illegal for them to do it so they are usually discreet about it…even though everyone knows they do it and I’ve never heard of someone getting punished for it.

      Of all the annoying things I have to do in Cuba, getting wifi cards is one of the easiest. Now finding eggs or bottled water, that’s a whole other issue.

  18. Thanks. We will be very internet intensive in month two as we intend to try and do internet based home schooling which requires streamed video six hours per day. We will get a sim however this will be expensive. putting in a new card number half way through a lesson might be tiresome but trying to get an account sounds like it will be a challenge as well. We will talk with our host and see how it is going by month two. Thanks again.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m not sure that Cuba is the best country if you require internet daily for six hours a day.
      If it’s raining or windy streaming internet is not possible. Sometimes too many people are on the same network. It’s best in Old Havana other cities are much more difficult.

      But also Nauta cards only work in Hotspots. You cannot access wifi all over the city or say in your casa.

      A SIM card doesn’t require a new card as it’s a card in your phone. You can access it outside Hotspots but it would be very expensive to stream video daily. You could be looking to 30CUC per day or more.

  19. Talek Nantes says:

    Great article. Can you recommend some of the casas particulares you mention in the article that have wifi?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If you do an airbnb search you can choose a filter that only shows casas with wifi. Most of the people who stay also leave reviews of wifi strength. If there are a lot of illegal nanos in the area or it’s far from the wifi area the signal will be weak.

  20. Basil Arrindell says:

    I found your article ESSENTIAL reading! Thank you
    One question, would you say that Cuba’s New Tourism SIM Card – Cubacel Tur would be a better option for someone coming over for 2 weeks and needing WiFi access for calling, emails and some streaming?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Wifi is still the easiest, cheapest thing to do IF you only need to do it once a day and don’t mind going to a hotel lobby or wifi park.

      If you need to check emails a lot or want to do it from where you’re staying then data is absolutely better. I do a mix of the two.

      I use data for when I’m at my apartment but when I want to use internet for an hour or more I go to a hotel lobby. You don’t need to be staying at the hotel, you just need to buy a drink. In Vedado I got to Capri Hotel and Presidente, in Old Havana I go to the Plaza Hotel on the corner of Parque Central. It is not the nicest and it doesn’t have air conditioning but they sell their hotel cards for 1 CUC/hour and the staff doesn’t mind if you buy a coffee/beer/lemonade and stay a couple hours.

      Streaming is a hit and a miss. If you want to do video chat don’t do it weekend afternoons because Cubans love to video chat so you’ll be sharing the signal with a lot of people. Evenings and weekdays are best.

      I haven’t tried to do a Facebook live or Instagram live yet. I don’t have enough faith that the signal would be consistent long enough.

  21. How reliable is ordering tourist SIM card and have it delivered to pick up at T3?
    Great article Ayngelina, well done, thank you.
    Now I really understand how it workis in Cuba. I will be there in two weeks time 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Unfortunately as it’s new I don’t have reports yet on if it worked or not. However, I’d print out the receipt and info just to have it on hand with you when you go.

      Please please let me know if you have any issues! I try to keep this post as updated as I can.

      And congrats on your trip! Cuba is an amazing place and you’ll have a great time. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to help.

  22. Great article! I clicked on the link for the tourist SIM card but it wasn’t clear where to go from that landing page.

    I arrive Friday. Need anything?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Hi Ace! You just need to decide which provider you would like to buy from as you can only get this card from international providers. Otherwise you would need to use wifi cards or a regular SIM when you are there.

      Thank you so much for the offer! I’m actually back in Canada this week braving the cold!

  23. https://www.dtone.com/reloadcuba/ Is the link that you have on your page. But I have clicked a couple of the companies that pop up there and it’s not immediately clear if any of them offer the Cuban tourist Sim card. Some of them appear to be companies where people in United States could pay to reload a Cuban cell phone.

  24. I arrived home yesterday after an awesome five days in Havana.

    Here is my experience getting the temporary Sim card for tourists.

    I went to Suenacuba.com and clicked on the big picture that says “cubacel tur has arrived.

    On the next page you will fill out your name passport number etc. Then you will pay for the Sim card. He will email and text you a confirmation number.

    When you arrive in Cuba you go to the Cuba cel office which is outside of customs and immigration at terminal three. I have read that there is one inside but I flew into terminal two so I can’t confirm that. I can confirm that the little office outside terminal two does not have the Sim cards.

    The really nice staff there who actually speak enough English to help out, will take your code that you were sent from the website and put the new Sim card in your phone. Make sure to keep your home Sim card safe!

    Now you are all set with one gigabyte of data, 20 minutes of talk time and 20 texts.

    I use a lot of data so I went back to the suenacuba website and added another 4GB for $30. You can’t add this before leaving because you don’t know what your temporary Cuba Phone number will be.

    Good luck and enjoy Cuba!

    1. Do you know the hours of the cubacel office at terminal 3? My flight arrives at 11:30pm.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        When you book your card you can talk to them about when you are arriving to ensure someone will be there. As Air Canada arrives daily at 11:30pm most airport services do stay open until the last plane arrives.

  25. Hi! I loved how informative your article was. I’m going to be going to Cuba soon and staying in Cayo Guillermo. I know you said you’re in Havana, but I was wondering if you knew how “strong” the Internet in this area is? As in, would buying the Tourist Sim even be worth it? I’d just be using it for posting updates on social media and sending messages to friends (which I can use Messenger or WhatsApp for). Thanks again!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      In this case I would just get wifi from your resort. The signal will be stronger and it will be easy to buy cards.

  26. Hiya Ayngelina, thanks for that very interesting article, very informative, I was due to come to Cuba in March but due to the situation with the Coronavirus I am stuck in Spain for the foreseeable future, I got married last year in May to a Cubana in Santiago and now she is at home and I’m not able to come over to be with her, hopefully the situation will be resolved sooner rather than later.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I love Santiago, what a fantastic city. I have been following what Cuba is doing online and my boyfriend tries to call hen he can, although even Havana is empty right now with no one on the streets. The government worked swiftly to minimize risk. It’s a hardship now but I think it’s wise to get everyone safe at home and then eventually we can all return sooner.

  27. Wow great article! A real timesaver, thank you.

  28. Lisette Weidner says:

    If you have a Smart TV and have a built-in YouTube app in it, then activating YouTube on your smart TV is very easy.
    Perhaps you need to keep in mind that all smart TV does not support YouTube, before activating check
    if it supports YouTube.

    Now, to activate YouTube on your Smart TV, follow the steps
    listed below:

    First, open the YouTube app on your Smart TV
    Go to the Settings i.e the gear icon, click on it.

    You have to sign in to your Youtube account. You will be provided with an 8 digit code.

    Also, keep the screen of the Smart TV on.
    From your laptop or mobile phone, go to the com/activate.

    Now, provide your Google account information and
    sign in.
    After that, enter the 8 digits that YouTube gave you and click on Proceed option.
    Lastly, when you see the option, click on Allow Access.

  29. Hola Ayngelina! Thank you very much for such a good article! I have a quick question, since this is very recent and we are in the COVID-19 era now! Do you have any idea if Zoom works in Cuba? We are considering living there for about 5 months, but I will need to have work meetings via Zoom. Please, let me know if you know anything! Thanks!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I don’t think the Internet is reliable enough to do video on a regular basis. If it’s raining video cuts out and if lots of people are online at once it’s not great.

      If you were having calls with a different time zone and it meant you calling in the middle of the night it would be possible.

      You would also need to be in Havana where wifi is the best

      Also keep in mind that while Canadians get a 90 day visa, everyone else only gets 30 days. You could apply to have it renewed up to three times but after that you need to leave the country and return. Mexico is only a short flight away, both Cancun and Mérida are less than an hour and there are often sales in interjet.

      But if zoom calls with video are an absolute necessity I’d say it’s probably better to spend the five months in Mexico.

  30. Hi there! Thanks for this awesome piece, appreciate all of the work you put into it. Wondering re: Zoom for when video is a challenge, could I more *easily* just dial into meetings using the phone numbers Zoom provides to join? Wondering how that would work from Cuba. Would I need to get a SIM card/my own phone line there?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes you could just call in and not do the video portion.

      Calling international with a SIM card is about $1/ minute so that’s not very practical.

      If it were me I would just roam on my Canadian SIM card and call in. But it depends on what country you’re from. A US sim card would be too expensive but other countries may be more affordable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close
© Copyright 2021. Bacon Is Magic. All rights reserved
Close