Long stay winter holidays in Cuba are possible and offer another option for the retired person. If you’re seeking a way to escape the dreadful winter weather for an extended period of time, Cuba could be a potential destination. Canadians and Europeans travel freely to Cuba. Things are changing quickly for Americans making this a viable long stay vacation choice.

The good news for Canadians is that it is possible to stay up to 90 days on a tourist visa. This can be extended by leaving Cuba for a couple of days and then returning. Known as a “visa run,” many pensioners leave the country for 24 – 48 hours and extend their stay for longer than three months. If you’re a citizen of another country, be sure to check with the local Cuban consulate for the length of time you can stay in the country as a tourist.

There are two ways you can stay in Cuba for the long term. This will all depend on the amount of time you wish to stay. Many companies offer organized long stay winter holidays, but these vacations may not offer the length of time you would like to stay.

It is not possible to book any long stay winter holidays in Cuba on the internet.  All of your bookings will have to be done through a licensed and experienced travel agent for the arrangements.

For example, HolaSun Holidays offers some packages to long stay hotels in Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Varadero and Havana. Some of these properties are all inclusive resorts in Cuba and include meals and beverages. Other properties are studio or one and two bedroom apartments that may offer a daily cleaning service but no meal plan. You’ll be living like a local, shopping for your groceries and cooking on your own unless you hire someone to cook for you.

Sunwing is another travel company that offers long stay vacations in Cuba in many of the same places as Hola Sun, but again, you won’t find these extended vacation packages on the internet, you will have to deal with a travel agent.

Villa Armania is a neighborhood of villas at Tarara Beach (near the Playa del Este beaches) near Havana. Villa Armania offers long stay winter vacations in Cuba. Long stay packages range from 28 to 42 nights, priced from $1,199 and up and includes airfare with Cubana airlines from Toronto. Villa Armania offers air conditioned villas with two to six rooms. Daily maid service is included in the price, but you’ll do your own cooking unless you decide to hire someone to do it for you. Nearby, there are grocery stores, medical facilities, bars and restaurants.

Las Terrazas Aparthotel in the Playa del este beaches area also offers air conditioned one to three bedroom apartments and suites with a breakfast plan and maid service. There are restaurants and a bar and swimming pool on the complex and it’s within walking distance to the Santa Maria del Mar beach.

The second way of doing a long stay winter holiday in Cuba is to book a direct flight to Cuba. Airlines that currently fly to Cuba include Cubana Airlines, Air Canada, West Jet, Air France, Copa, Aeroflot and American Airlines. As things change rapidly between the US and Cuba for American citizens, one will see more airlines servicing the Cuba route.  In the near future (probably around November of this year, there is talk of a ferry service between Miami and Cuba.

Direct international flights land at any one of the following international airports in Cuba:  Havana, Varadero, Holguin, Cienfuegos or Camaguey. You can avoid hotel and apartment properties by staying in a privately-owned casa particular (a bed and breakfast). Prices for a room in a casa particular per night range from $25 to $35 a night.   Most casa particulars offer a breakfast plan and it is possible if you don’t want to do your own cooking they will offer a meal plan. However,  if you want to stay for a longer period of time in Cuba, you can most likely arrange with the owner for better pricing.  For Americans, casa particulars can be rented through the AirBnB service. You can also find casa particulars by simply inquiring from people you know and trust, whether it’s a taxi cab driver or a friend you meet in Cuba. This is incredibly easy once you get to know Cuba.

Weather is another factor to consider if you’re planning on staying for an extended period of time in Cuba. June, July, August and September are the hottest months with temperatures reaching 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit). These months can also have the most rainfall.  Weather is difficult to predict these days with climates changing everywhere around the world. September and October are the months of hurricane season. From November to April is considered the dry season in Cuba, but again, worldwide weather is very unpredictable these days. Last November it rained non-stop for nine days when I was there.

When you finally decide that your long stay winter holidays in Cuba are coming to an end, don’t forget  there’s always the 25 CUC in cash departure tax to pay as you leave.  Credit cards are not accepted.

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