Rent a car in Cuba Summer 2012 driving & tips

So you got a Rent a car in Cuba?

rent a car in cuba

For those of you who rent a car in Cuba this summer there are a few things you should be aware of when driving around this precious island.

Taking advantage of your rent a car in Cuba might mean traveling from say, Havana to Santiago de Cuba and, spending some time at Cuba Hotels or Casa Particulares along the way. First of all, be aware that police fines in Cuba are not sent to your home or to the address on your driving license, they are written on the back of the rental contract and payable when you return the car. In effect, the rental office is the police fine collector…novel eh?

When driving your rent a car in Cuba you should take the following precautions:

Rent a Car in Cuba

Ensure that your tires are correctly inflated at all times. If necessary check these every few days or more than you would back home. Why? Well, Cuban roads can be hot enough to fry an egg (literally) and this can place excessive stress on these little rubber contact patches we call tires. When they heat up and lose temperature they can force air from the tire and thus, even though no puncture is present, the tires can deflate daily. A deflated tire will create more friction (heat) which, added to the already sweltering roads can make your tires literally decompose and cause blow outs. Therefore, the best way to obvert this is, keep your tires checked and inflated to the right pressure.

  • Checking your rent a car in Cuba upon collection
  • Check that your spare tire, jack and tire tools are present. DO NOT take their word for it.
  • Check around the car and mark every single (even tiny) scratch on the car images shown on the contract.
  • If the car has plastic wheel covers, ensure all 4 are present and properly secured.
  • When you collect the rent a car in Cuba check the fuel gauge and that it is right up against the needle. If it is not and you are being charged for a Full tank and expected to bring it back empty (common in Cuba) you may be missing up to $20 o $30 in fuel.

Rent a car in cuba

The insurance on car rental in Cuba since 2010 is fully comprehensive CDW (Collison damage waiver) compliant. Therefore, your rent a car in Cuba no longer has the awkward Cuban Insurance A and B from previous years. This makes your life easier because you are not responsible for any damage of theft of parts from the vehicle providing a proper police report is made.

“Our Rent a car in Cuba had one blowout coming back from Varadero”


Just Rent a car in Cuba or getting a car at the desk upon arrival can be extremely difficult.. Some of your have been mesmerized by the total lack of organization in Cuba and nowhere is this more apparent than trying to rent a car without a pre-booked confirmation from either CubaCAR, Havanautos, REX or Via. The problem is that none of Cuba´s rent a car agencies are actually linked together and they are not even linked to a central booking system! Therefore, when you are faced with the problem of no car at the rental office you visited, they will be unable to even tell you where another agency is with a car! Booking a rent a car in Cuba in advance is therefore highly advisable

For those who have chosen to rent a car in Cuba and are driving to their Cayo Coco Cuba accommodations, you will have to pay a small fee to cross, and you might expect to have your car looked over to make sure you are not bringing in anyone otherwise not permitted to cross. As a result of all this, you will not experience as much pressure from locals trying to lead you to a certain paladares or to one of the hostels in Cayo Coco, for example.

Rent a Car in Cuba

Cienfuegos with a rent a car in Cuba

There’s no escaping the long, tiresome drive via the autopista to reach Cienfuegos. Get an early start. At Jagüey Grande turn south for Peninsula de Zapata, stopping for lunch at Restaurante Colibrí, at La Boca. Fill up on fuel here and tour the crocodile farm before continuing to Playa Girón, site of the Bay of Pigs landing. The Museo Playa Girón will excite military and history experts.

Rent a Car in Cuba

Sancti Spiritus with a rent a car in Cuba

Driving to Sancti Spíritus is a scenic sensation. Drive by Sancti Spíritus town and follow the Carretera Central eastbound. Stop for a traditional paladar style lunch at Finca Oasis (12 miles east of Ciego de ávila) and arrive in Camagüey in mid—afternoon. The “City of Plazas” is well—named. Plaza San Juan de Díos is the place to be at sunset. Next day you can explore the other key plazas. Camagüey is a large city. Take your time strolling, being sure not to miss Plaza del Carmen while driving your rent a car in Cuba through the countryside

Rent a Car in Cuba

Santiago de Cuba with a rent a car in Cuba

Consider a full day’s drive to Santiago de Cuba from Havana, passing through Las Tunas and Bayamo, where Cuba’s independence resistance was spawned. After eating at the bodega style restaurant La Sevillana, take a couple of hours walking to explore around Parque Céspedes then continue via in your rent a car in Cuba to El Cobre, to visit the Basilica. Arriving in Santiago de Cuba, check into the Hotel San Basilio, in the heart of the colonial sector

Rent a car in Cuba

Holguín with a rent a car in Cuba

Start early for Holguín province via the badly signposted coast road where the sea basically is your guide to navigation utopia. Allow 4 hours to arrive at Cueto, just before which turn south for The Historic Birán, Fidel Castro’s birthplace; the original farmhouse has been recreated in idealized form. Retrace your steps north, continuing via Banes a wonderfully scenic drive and the Chorro del Maita archeological site. Overnight at Guardalavaca, where all inclusive hotels are your sole option for accommodation

Most important thing when driving your rent a car in Cuba is traffic is extremely scarce, in places almost nonexistent. Main roads (“carretera central” and other roads connecting cities) are OK. Asphalt is in good condition without many potholes. The road signs do exist (speed limits and directions) but you have to pay attention not to miss them since there would be usually only one.

Rent a car in Cuba

Split or Divided highways (“autopista”) are simply 3 lanes wide main roads with separated directions of traffic. Only grass (no barrier) between directions, no fences to keep animals off the road, no restrictions on type of traffic. Road signs also only one before or at the exit.

Less important roads and local roads are not very good but I´ve seen worse in Kansas, there are some potholes, but keeping that in mind, definitely drivable. Usually no road signs except village and town names, mostly very faded.

All roads are wide by European/North American standards (i.e. 6m/19Ft or more) except few minor dead-end roads leading to a farm or similar. I guess that by American or Canadian standards these roads can appear quite narrow.

As most of the rent a car in Cuba are small anyway and most are European size vehicles, then the roads seem to match the cars!

Rent a car in Cuba 2012