As it concerns cigar production, Cuba is the mecca. From planting to harvesting, cutting, rolling and packaging, all is done in Cuba. Therefore, traveling to Cuba and not purchasing cigars could be likened to going the moon and not bringing back a rock. It is a must for those who enjoy a good cigar and those looking to get into the hobby. Below are 5 things cigar lovers should know when traveling to Cuba:
1. Cuban Cigars are Less Costly in Cuba
As you may have expected, Cuban cigars are more inexpensive to purchase in Cuba in comparison to buying them online or elsewhere in the world. You can purchase top-quality single cigars in stores for between 7 and 25 CUC (US$7 to $25), while packages of 25 cost upwards of 120 CUC. You could spend as much as five times these costs online.
2. Cuban Cigars May No Longer be the Best
There are studies that have found that Cuba no longer makes the best cigars. Surveys were conducted and cigar enthusiasts have expressed that cigars manufactured in Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are more superior. This is not necessarily due to deterioration in the quality of Cuban cigars, it is more that the making of cigars in the previously mentioned countries and elsewhere around the globe have improved significantly.
3. Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Cuban Cigars
Cuba is arguably the safest country in Latin America for travelers. However, there are unscrupulous characters who will attempt to scam you out of your money with fake cigars. If you fall for the scam, you could find yourself with obviously stolen or fake Cuban cigars boxes with phony products after spending $250 to $300 USD. Buy from the stores to avoid the possibility of this happening.
4. Money Matters
For many, travel to Cuba may seem like a journey back in time. You should take cash to change into CUCs, which are convertible pesos used by visitors. There is another Cuban currency used by locals known as CUPs or Cuban pesos. It is important to budget carefully as there are only a few ATMs in Havana and currently bank cards issued in the United States are not accepted.
On paper, one CUC is worth one U.S. dollar; however, the government of Cuba takes a fee of 13 percent, leaving you with 87 cents for the dollar. Cubans may privately offer you 90 cents or more but it is important to be cautious about who you trust.
5. The Locals are Remarkable
You should explore beyond your desires for great cigars and interact with the natives. With its colorful culture, lush landscapes and beautiful beaches, Cuba is a spectacular destination. Best of all, its citizens are friendly, happy and downright remarkable.
The streets are full of music and there is much to see. These include vintage cars and massive mansions that are evidence of better times. Even those who do not like to smoke have attested to the seduction of the smells of these world-class cigars.