You might have heard horror stories about the internet situation in Cuba. You might have heard that it is impossible to work there as a digital nomad. Even-though some of the things you might have heard of are true, it is not impossible to work online in Cuba or get an internet connection. It might be more challenging to visit Cuba as a Digital Nomad but if you know how you will be able to keep working while traveling through the country. For this reason I created this Digital Nomad Guide for Cuba.
Currently I am sitting on a plane as my first trip to Cuba as a real digital nomad, I am thinking back to the days, while I was working as freelancer additionally to giving tours in Havana using the Cuban internet connection. I am thinking about fellow nomads or travelers who think about visiting the island and end up not doing it because of said internet connection. So without further to do here is the locally abroad digital nomad guide to Cuba.
What is the Internet Like in Cuba?
To understand why it could be tricky to use the internet and visit Cuba as a Digital Nomad. So let me say, it is very limited. There is no private Internet in Cuba. There are some trials and plans to incorporate an internet connection at home or a mobile connection. The cost of the connection is 1CUC per hour and you get access by buying Internet cards or charging a permanent account with money. You can buy the cards at an ETECSA office or from a reseller in a park. The card comes with a unique number for the username (usuario) and one for the password (contraseña). Because of recent restrictions one person is allowed to buy only 3 Internet Cards at once. That means in the ETECSA office. You can also use the connections and accounts of locals, like your hosts.
Plan Ahead and Book Wisely
Of course, it is not always possible to plan everything ahead and it can be even annoying. But if you are looking for a great work environment in Havana and the rest of Cuba it is great to plan ahead and get a spot close to a Wi-Fi-hotspot.
They might even be able to catch the connection and you could benefit from something really rare in Cuba- using the internet at home! So if you make your booking check on the wifi-hotspots and look for a Casa close by. The best neighborhood for that is the Vedado, where the government has opened many parks and other hotspots. But also areas like Habana Vieja, Miramar or even Centro Habana are quite well connected. Later in this Digital Nomad Guide to Cuba, you will find a list of hotspot you can use as a reference for your accommodation.
WIFI-Spots in Havana and BnBs Around
It is easy to spot a Wi-Fi-Park in Havana or anywhere in Cuba. You can tell by the people with phones and laptops sitting on park benches or on the street. Apart from that, people started repeating the signal and get the official internet at home as well. You still need to use the cards, but you are more comfortable and you can enjoy a cup of Cuban Coffee while working. Check with your host before if they get the signal at their place.
Here is a list of Hotspots so you can look for a place close by:
- Rampa (Malecón hasta el cine Yara),
- Parque Línea y L, Plaza
- Parque Wilfredo Lam. Plaza
- Sucursal Cimex Sol y Mar, Malecón
- Malecón y Paseo
- La Piragua
- El Castillito
- Centro Tecnológico. Hola Ola
- Malecón. Exterior Centro HispanoAmericano.
- Parque Tulipán y Loma
- Malecón. Zona Abadía
- In G & Malecón
- Parque Coopelia
- Parque Linea y H. Municipio plaza
- Parque Abel Santa María. Municipo Plaza
- Pabellón Cuba
- Parque Clandestinidad
- Parque de 3ra y B
- Casa de Las-Américas
- Parque Wifredo Lam Vedado
- ICRT-La Rampa
- PV CM Sala Navegación Internet 17 y A
- Parque La Piragua
- Parque Fuente de La Juventud
- Centro Cultural EGREM
- Centro Multiservicios Miramar
- Parque Coyula. 19 y 30, Playa
- Parque 13 y 76, Playa
- Balneario Universitario 1ra y 42. Playa.
- Recinto Ferial Pabexpo
- Teatro Karl Marx
- Laboratorio KCHO
- Parque Flores Playa
- Parque Juan Manuel Marquez Playa
- Parque Nautico Playa
- Parque Rincón Martiano
- Parque Lázaro Cárdenas Kolhy
- Parque Jaimanitas Playa
- Parque Japones Playa
- El Sauce
- The Parque de los Mártires Universitarios (Infanta)
- El Parque Trillo
- Parque fe del Valle (Galiano y San Rafael)
- Parque de la Santa Varela (San Carlos y Carlos Tercera)
- Parque Fe del Valle (Galeano y San Rafael)
- In the Parque Trillo
- Malecón. Exterior zona Hotel Deauville
- Malecón. Exterior Restaurant Castro Poll
- Parque Infanta y Salud. Municipio Centro Habana
- Parque Karl Marx. Centro Habana
- Parque Angeles-Estrella
- in the Parque La Pera
- Parque de los Martires Centro Habana
- Plaza Cristo
I also created some posts about unique Bnbs and accommodation in Cuba, and some of them get the signal! Additionally to the mentioned hotspots the whole coastline, the famous “Malecon” has Wi-Fi now. So if you think about live-streaming Havana, that is the place you should do it from.
Hotels Instead of Coworking – Where to Work in Havana
There are a couple of Hotels that are great for a work day in Havana and run on the same ETECSA connection as the parks and hotspots. So if you do not catch the connection in your Casa Particular you can take it to a hotel. In that way, you will have the option to charge your phone and you avoid kids throwing balls at your laptop and you keep yourself dry if it rains. You just have to order a drink and then usually the staff lets you sit there for a while. Well, until your Wi-Fi-Cards expire. Here is a list of Hotels in Havana I can recommend for a working session. They mostly have reliable Wi-Fi and a quiet spot to work from.
Here is a little advice: The more expensive a hotel and the drinks are the better the internet connection.
- Hotel Manzana Kempinsky Havana
- Hotel Parque Central
- Hotel Colina
- Hotel Paseo
- Hotel Presidente
- Hotel El Bosque
- Hotel Nacional (runs a different connection)
- Melia Cohiba (runs a non-ETECSA connection)
- Hotel Ambos Mundos
Are just some examples!
Prepare your Equipment
Download a VPN. Due to the embargo a lot of services are blocked in Cuba and you might run against some walls if you work with services like Adwords or Facebook ads. That’s why a private connection might help and makes your work flawless. I had to learn that the hard way and I recommend using a VPN in case you cannot resist using certain services. Have in mind that the following services are falling under the embargo and you might risk getting your account shut. (BTW that is not due to the connection in Cuba but due to the economic regulations between the US and Cuba.)
- Etsy (it works but you should not mention Cuba in the sales description or messages)
- Downloading Microsoft Software
- Downloading Apps in the Apple Appstore
Make sure your Laptop is not charging too much in the background and use a fast browser. Make sure you charge your equipment while you have power in the casa. And do not leave them charging while you go out as the power might be unstable. There are also some Apps to help you get things done offline or at least prepare a blog post or similar work. Also, the connection works best with mobile apps so try to do as much as possible from your phone.make sure to connect and disconnect when you are not using the internet at the moment in order to save your hours. Download emails, disconnect, answer them and send them then.
Enjoy your stay in Cuba and don’t let the internet drive you crazy!
I created a second part with everything you need to know about the mobile internet connection in Cuba and how you can get it! Find it here!