Is it safe to rent a car and drive around Cuba?

Question: Is it safe to rent a car and drive around Cuba? Do sat navs work?

Answer: In terms of personal safety, there is seldom a problem in renting a car and driving around Cuba.  However, as in any part of the world, one should always exercise caution and good judgment when offering rides to people one meets on the road.  That said, it is important to note that Cuba has a very active, and comparatively safe, tradition of hitchhiking.

The biggest problem of driving around Cuba is that road signs and, often, road names are notoriously in short supply.  This, more than anything else, can cause drivers great confusion. As well, road services – gas stations, repair stations, wayside cafes, etc. – are in much shorter supply than one is used to in North American or many European countries.  In Cuba, the general rule of the road is that when you see a gas station, fill up!

Thus, if you rent a car, be sure you have a good road map with you and that you’ve carefully checked out where you’re going and how you get there.

The other consideration is that you must pay careful attention to the condition of the roads themselves when driving. Although most of the country’s main highways are in relatively good condition, the majority of side roads and city roads will often have unanticipated holes, or manholes that are quite a bit lower than the surrounding pavement, etc. And, whether driving on country roads or even sometimes on major highways, it is not uncommon to come across free-ranging livestock – cattle, donkeys, horses, sheep and goats – crossing the road, or slow-moving tractors, trucks, bicycles, foot-traffic, etc.

Satellite navigation is not available in Cuba, either in privately-owned cars or in rental cars.

4 thoughts on “Is it safe to rent a car and drive around Cuba?

  • July 12, 2013 at 9:22 am
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    If you bring GPS into the country & they discover it on arrival they will hold it until departure & you must pay a fee to retrieve it. On your cell phone they won’t bother because cell phones are allowed. A new scam lately though to be pro-active about is… when you stop at a gas station or rest stop > someone can puncturing your tire and then you must pay $10-$25cuc to get it repaired or to change your tire & then you will waste time later that day or the next day going to the nearest car rental to have new tire put on, so keep a watchful eye on your car & stay nearby when stopped (this can happen anywhere you travel but this is happening more now) Also only park in town where you see the gov’t old guys with “red vests” on they will watch your car day or night for a few pesos but give then a few cuc (dollars) is a nice gesture! Licensed B & B’s often have secured areas for use. But I always recommend having a Cuban driver with the car it let’s you relax & doesn’t cost that much extra & no responsibility for the car contact us Cuba Si Tours And Travel dot com because we have great cars & trustworthy English speaking Cuban drivers with classic to modern cars and also comfortable vans.

    Reply
  • May 26, 2014 at 11:52 pm
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    Try to avoid hiring a Geely from CubaCar. No doubt the government obtained them on credit, but they appropriately and justifiably can be called junk. Also in the car contractt you have to purchase 94 octane gasoline which is 20 pesos per litre more expensive than 87 octane and all the gas stations know this.

    Reply
    • July 14, 2014 at 7:42 pm
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      how about hiring a car with a driver?

      Reply

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