You may have heard that there is no wifi in Cuba, or that connecting to the internet in Cuba is difficult.
In 2023, that is a truth with modifications. Undeniably, wifi in Cuba is not like in the US or Europe, but it is not that difficult getting online.
I have been living in Havana, Cuba, since January 2021, and I work online. It is safe to say I have experienced the variety of internet issues that exist in Cuba, both in the cities and in the countryside.
Internet in Cuba is not available for free in public spaces, it is slow and unreliable, and it is only available in certain places.
Well, almost, free wifi in Cuba is available in some high-end hotels and large resorts, but apart from that, it is regulated and costs money by the hour.
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Wifi In Cuba | Internet In Cuba For Tourists 2023
In 2023, internet coverage in Cuba is improving rapidly, and there is also a 4G network in Cuba now.
Most Cubans have smartphones, but the 4G in Cuba is still scarce, and if you move out of the busiest city hubs you will drop down to 3G in a flash, or even edge.
As a tourist, your phone will not have access to the internet in Cuba via the 4G data network of Etecsa.
As long as you have your own foreign phone and sim card, your only option to go online is to connect to the Etecsa wifi network at a wifi hotspot.
In 2023 the number of wifi hotspots in Cuba is increasing, and according to the Minister of Tourism in Cuba, improving internet access is a priority.
As a result of this, wifi in Cuba hotels is more and more common, and even some casa particulares (private rental homes) have wifi you can connect to (for a fee).
Internet In Cuba Becoming For Tourists Becoming More Accessible!
Internet access in Cuba is easier in 2022 than before, but it still is not generally available in restaurants, shops, or through 4G if you use a foreign sim card and phone.
The number of public wifi hotspots is also increasing, in 2022 there are more than 1100 hotspots throughout the country.
When you walk around Havana, Santiago, Trinidad, or any of the cities in Cuba you will suddenly pass a corner or a little park where there are lots of people hanging around immersed in their phones.
When that happens, you have come to a wifi park!
The rule of thumb is still that you need to buy a Nauta Etecsa scratch card at an Etecsa shop (or on the street), go to a wifi hotspot, and connect.
Should you happen to have a friend in Cuba, pretty much all Cubans have a Nauta account. If you know someone who has this, you might be able to borrow their Cuban email address and access wifi cheaper this way.
If you do this, you can buy tarjeta Nauta internet, a Nauta Internet scratch card, from numerous shops or even doorways around Cuba.
Many private persons are certified to sell these cards, and they cost 50 CUP (€1,8 or US $1,94) for four hours of browsing online.
Also read: 10 Perfect Day Trips From Havana Cuba 2022!
Wifi In Cuba | Nauta Internet Cuba Scratch Card From Etecsa
There are Etecsa stores in every city and village in Cuba. Etecsa is the governmental telephone and internet provider in Cuba, which has a monopoly on both services on the island.
As a tourist, you can buy Cuban wifi cards at any Etecsa store, and then you can use that to go online in any wifi hotspot in Cuba.
Cuba Wifi Card
The price of the 1-hour cards is €1/CUP 125, and 5 hours card is €5/CUP 625 for surfing time respectively, the latter is often out of stock though.
At the Etecsa store, you need to show your ID or passport, and each wifi card you buy will be registered to your ID number.
You will also be able to buy Nauta Etecsa scratch cards in major airports and selected hotels where Etecsa has small stands.
Also, you may be able to buy Nauta Etecsa scratch cards on the streets, around the wifi park, and at small shops and kiosks around wifi hotspots.
Be aware, when you buy your wifi card outside the official Etecsa shop, the prices will also be higher, at least double. You pay do dodge the queues!
When you have secured your wifi card, you can find a wifi hotspot on a corner, or a park, and go online. On your card, there are two areas with numbers.
The first line is the username you will be using, and the second, that you scratch open, is your password for the duration of the card.
Also read: 33+ Legendary Things To Do In Havana 2022!
Connecting To Wifi In Cuba
When you connect to the wifi in Cuba, you find a wifi hotspot, open your phone and locate available networks. From there, you choose Etecsa, and you will get a sign-in form on your phone.
On the card that you have bought, you scratch the two scratchable areas. The first (long) number you get is your username, and the second one is your password.
Fill out the two fields with the correct numbers, press connect, and you should be online.
Remember to sign out of connection when you have finished before you close down the tab on your phone. If you don’t do this, your credits may run out while you are doing other things!
If you are connecting through a laptop, you should see the photo above when you open your wifi options and click on Etecsa (or the name of your hotel or casa).
If you do not see this image, type in 18.104.22.168, and it should come up like this.
This tab will have a countdown clock, so don’t close it while you are online. This is also where you turn off your browsing session, click on the button that says “cerrar session“; close the session.
You will receive a confirmation that your session is closed OR an error message that it has not!
This may happen if the net is really bad, and the router is not able to communicate your closing. Make sure you check that it has actually closed, because if not your browsing time keeps running out!
Is There Internet In Cuban Resorts?
In 2022, it is more and more common with complimentary internet in Cuban resorts, wifi in Cuba in high-end hotels and large resorts is increasing, but not all.
In some places, you can be online 24/7 even in your room, in other places you can connect in common areas like the lobby or bar.
In some hotels, you still have to buy a scratch card to connect for a certain amount of time, and others do not yet have internet.
In some of the larger high-end hotels, you need to buy a card that is approved for the specific server connected to that particular hotel, while others have a normal Etecsa router where you can connect with an Etecsa scratch card.
The Ministry of Tourism in Cuba stated at the end of 2021 that they are working toward a goal of making the internet more accessible, and faster.
Not just in the large hotels and resorts but also in smaller hotels across the island!
Also read: Travel Essentials Women Edition 2022!
Internet In Cuban Vacation Rentals Airbnb
Some Casa Particulares, Cuban private rental homes, offer wifi in Cuba in 2022. Be aware though, that there are things you need to check if you book a place through Airbnb or Hostelworld, where it states that the accommodation has wifi.
Domestic wifi in Cuba is very expensive, something most Cubans can not afford.
So first, it may be that the apartment is connected to a nearby wifi park through a series of extension routers, which means that you will be sharing the net with all the people in the wifi park and it will be slow and probably fall out from time to time.
The name of the casa particular network may be something else than “Etecsa”, but apart from that the process to connect is the same.
Second, it may be that you will be able to connect your phone through shared internet from a Cuban smartphone available for the guests at the casa particular.
This can work well, but remember that this has a cost by the minute, and you will pay the internet bill to your landlord when you leave.
Make sure you know and understand the prices and how the connect-and-disconnect works, in order not to get a surprise at the end of your holiday!
If your casa or hotel does not have internet, you are gonna have to buy a Nauta Etecsa scratch card and find a public wifi park to be on the World Wide Web still.
Also read: Create Awesome Solo Holidays To Cuba 2022!
Havana Airport Wifi
There is an Etecsa wifi connection in the major airports of Cuba. At the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, there is nowhere to buy wifi cards in the arrival area so when you get to Havana for the first time you will still be offline!
If you have booked someone to pick you up from the airport through your hotel or casa particular, you can ask beforehand if they are able to bring a wifi card with them for the pick-up if it is important for you to connect quickly to wifi in Cuba upon arrival.
Cuban Cell Phone Service
As Etecsa is the sole provider of communication services in Cuba, this is also where sim cards and phone subscriptions are sold.
If you are in Cuba for a longer period, it can be a good idea to buy a Cuban sim card for the duration of your stay. This is not difficult, you bring your ID or passport to the Etecsa shop and buy a sim card that will be connected to your name and ID number.
This sim card will be active almost immediately and will allow you to be online and on 4G with data outside the wifi hotspots.
Is There 4G In Cuba In 2022?
Yes, there is 4G in Cuba in 2022, but the 4G coverage is not great though.
You will normally be able to get 4G coverage in the most central areas in the big cities, and once you are outside the mainstream parts you will “fall down” to 3G.
Once you have credits on your Cuban sim card, you can transfer from your balance to data packages from your phone.
If you dial *133# and press call, you are able to do transfers, just follow the instructions. Mind you, they are in Spanish. If you dial *222# and press call, you will receive your current balance.
Cuba Cell Phone Tourist Sim Card
In 2022, you are able to buy a time-limited Cuban sim card intended for tourists staying on the island for a period of 30 days.
As this is a service intended for tourists, you need a foreign passport to buy this sim card.
There are several pick-up locations around the island at Etecsa stores where you collect your sim card after arrival, including at the airport in Havana. Check which pick-up location is best for you before your trip.
Along with the sim card, you will receive instructions on how to use it.
The SIM costs € 27.51 (US$ 29,52) which includes 6 GB of data, 100 minutes of calls, and 100 SMS for national and international destinations. You can also top up your Cuban tourist sim card while in Cuba.
Wifi In Cuba | Internet Speed
Internet speed in Cuba is ok. But it all depends, and it can not be compared to that of the US or Europa in any way.
You will be ok to do a video call while connected to wifi in Cuba, but streaming music, movies, or games might be a real challenge for the network.
When you connect to the internet in a wifi park, it will depend on the number of other people connecting at the same time as you share the internet access.
If you are in a high-end hotel that has internet access, the internet will probably be quite fast, at least close to the hotspots or routers.
Sometimes, the internet in Cuba will just not work, for no apparent reason. Also, it will depend on the weather! When it rains in Cuba, the internet speed drops dramatically or even goes away entirely.
When there is a thunderstorm, which happens frequently in the wet season, often you need to disconnect your router in order to protect it from lightning strikes.
The electricity system in Cuba is old and fragile, and a lightning strike might destroy any appliance connected to the electric system. As a new router is very hard to find in Cuba and expensive, most people disconnect all their appliances during a thunderstorm.
Also read: How To Get A Tourist Card For Cuba 2022!
Sanctions And Internet In Cuba 2022
Cuba has been subject to sanctions from the US and international companies since 1962, and this will also affect access to certain internet services in Cuba in 2022.
Any governmental service or commercial service that is based in the US, or has US stockholders or any form of relation to the US will probably be restricted from providing services to you while in Cuba.
This is because when you log onto the internet from a Cuban server, a page or service you need to access will automatically not allow the transaction of information through this server.
Booking a stay through Airbnb, booking.com, or hotels.com for Cuba, when you are in Cuba connecting through a Cuban server, can not be done without a good VPN.
I have had friends at home do bookings in Cuba for me in the past, and then send them the money, because I was unable to do it myself from here!
Also, social apps like Snapchat do not work in Cuba without a VPN.
Online Shopping And Shipping To Cuba
Online shopping and shipping to Cuba can also be a challenge due to the sanctions. The online shop you want to visit, might not even open its page as you enter from a Cuban server.
Or you are able to do your shopping, but when it comes to shipping to Cuba you might run into problems.
In the past, shopping online and shipping to Cuba was almost impossible, but that is not the case anymore. However, it is still not easily available, and be aware, that shipment to Cuba might take time!
Online stores like Amazon are currently able to send items to Cuba in 2022, the problem is they are able to ship some items, but not all. If you need to have something sent to Cuba, you need to check with Amazon whether the item you want is eligible.
If it is not, it is possible to ship to Cuba via a so-called package forwarder. I have never used that, but check out Yoreoyster, explaining exactly how to get that done.
Well, you might not NEED it for a short holiday, dependent on how indispensable you are at work, on social media, or for your friends and family. Yet, before your journey, downloading a good VPN for use in Cuba might be a good idea.
A good VPN service will not just help you keep your internet traffic and device secure, but also put you in the geographical location you prefer to browse from.
As I am working online from Cuba, I have tried and tested several VPN services in order to make this work. Currently, I have found that the one that works best for me is the Express VPN.
This allows me to enter most sites and services I need working online without problems.
Satellite Phone Cuba
If you think you can solve the phone issues by bringing a satellite phone to Cuba, be aware that that is illegal.
Be aware that you are not at liberty to bring a satellite phone into Cuba unless you have specific a permit from the Cuban Ministry of Informatics and Communications.
Cuba has strict regulations on the use of satellite phones because they’re perceived as possible tools for subversive purposes.
If you try to enter the country with a satellite phone, or you are seen using one, you might be subject to severe charges and penalties, like prison!
Internet Cafes In Cuba
Internet cafes in Cuba are not common. In some Etecsa stores, they have a section with computers where you can sit down and use your wifi card to go online, but that is about it.
Some of the larger hotels may also have business centers with computers that you might use. Generally, you will have to connect through your phone or laptop at a wifi hotspot using your Etecsa wifi card.
Also read: 19 Bests Things To Do In Varadero Cuba 2022
Best App For Offline Map Of Cuba
As you probably will be offline while walking the cities or traveling around Cuba, it is likely not going to be easy using an online map service when you need to find out where you are!
A very good offline app for map service I recommend you download before your journey is MapsMe.
The MapsMe app has maps over the whole world, which you can download and use without internet access. After you download the app, you need to download the country map you need as well, and from there you are good to go!
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Wrap-Up Wifi In Cuba 2022
As you see, there are a number of factors influencing the wifi in Cuba and your online presence when you travel here.
Although not as easy as in “the world at large”, you will be able to get online and enter most services, apps, and websites you need.
If you also plan a bit ahead, download Express VPN and lower your expectations, and you will be fine. Or, maybe you can even try to enjoy a social media detox, not being online 24/7?
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for any advice!