Last month I spent 6 days in Havana and wrote 100 Things I Learned About My Recent Trip to Havana Cuba. As you may know, internet access for tourists and locals alike is very limited in Havana because of the Cuban government. Even if you do find internet in Cuba, you’ll have to pay up since free Wi-fi is almost non-existent. In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about internet access in Havana Cuba.
There’s only one internet service provider in Cuba and it’s called Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A or ETECSA. The government pretty much owns everything in Cuba, including ETESCA and there’s some censorship as well. I wasn’t able to access Snapchat in Cuba, but you can get around that by using a free VPN service.
The Cuban government doesn’t want their people to be connected to the internet which is why wireless internet is very rare at a Cuban home. The only way a Cuban can get wireless internet at home is if they work for the Cuban government.
There’s also no internet access available on Cuba’s wireless telephone company provider, CubaTel and don’t even try buying a CubaCel SIM Card because tourists can’t get it the legal way.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Internet in Cuba:
Where does the Internet in Cuba come from?
The internet in Cuba comes from fiber optic cables from neighboring Venezuela which is only for government officials and hotels. Cuba has a very tight knit relationship with Venezuela.
Is there Internet at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV)?
There is an ETESCA wireless hotspot at Havana International Airport, but you’ll need to buy an internet access card. Good luck finding a vendor at Havana International Airport because they’re not existent. You can only buy them in town from select hotels and at the ETESCA Brick and Mortar store on Calle Obispo in Habana Vieja.
There’s an internet cafe at HAV Airport, but it’s passed security in the departures area. There is a vendor there that will sell you wired internet access codes in 30 minute time blocks for about 6 CUC’s ~ $6 USD which is pretty expensive.
If you’re departing from HAV International Airport and would like to access the wireless internet, make sure you buy an ETESCA scratch off internet card in 30 minute or 1 hour intervals.
Where can I find Wireless Internet Access in Havana?
As previously mentioned, you can find Wireless Internet available at Jose Marti International Airport. You can also find Wifi at select major hotel lobbies in Old Havana (Habana Vieja), Centro Havana, Vedado, and Miramar.
In Habaja Vieja, you can find Wireless Internet at the lobbies of Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Saratoga, Hotel Sevilla, and Iberostar Parque Central.
In Centro Habana, you can find internet access at the Hotel Deauville.
In Vedado, you can find internet access at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
In Miramar, you can find internet access at Memories Miramar Hotel, Quinta Avenida Hotel, Melia Habana, Hotel Cubanacan Chateau, and the Hotel Copacabana.
How do I Access the Internet in Cuba?
Since internet is not free at the airport or hotels, you’ll have to pay them in Cuba’s hard currency, the CUC. An internet access portal will pop up when you connect to the Wi-Fi where you’ll need to enter a username and password. You’ll need to buy internet access in the form of a scratch off card or printed receipt with your login/password in CUC’s from the hotel’s front desk.
How much is Internet in Cuba?
Wired internet access from internet cafes or hotel lobby computers are the cheapest form of internet access in Cuba. The price is usually 2 CUCs per hour for ‘wired internet’. 30 minute wireless ETESCA nauta cards range from 2.25 – 5 CUCs and 1 hour ETESCA cards range from 4.50- 10 CUCs.
The cool thing about these cards is that when you’re buying either 30 minute or 1 hour blocks, you can stop your session at any time and resume later which is fantastic.
Where can I find the cheapest internet in Cuba?
You can buy a 30 minute ETESCA nauta card for 2.25 CUC from the actual ETESCA retail store on Calle Obispo in Habana Vieja. A 1 hour ‘tarjetas de internet’ will cost 4.50 CUCs ~ $4.50 USD.
How fast is the Internet in Cuba?
From what I’ve read on the internet before traveling to Cuba, internet access was described as being slow to the speeds of dial up modems. Since I was in Cuba for 6 days, I must have tried internet at 7 different hotels in Havana and spent almost 100 CUC’s worth.
Contrary to popular belief, internet access is surprisingly fast in Cuba (almost as fast as my internet at home!). The only place where internet was slow for me was at the Iberostar Parque Central Hotel and that’s probably because the hotel is too large and many guests were using it. It could just very well be an off day, but internet access was great and fast everywhere else. My favorite was the Hotel Sevilla in Old Havana.
Is there Free Internet in Cuba?
Yes, there’s actually one place in Havana where Kcho, a local famous artist has provided free wireless internet to local Cubans. But here’s one catch – You’ll have to visit his art museum house in the Miramar neighborhood. The address is: Kcho Estudio Romerillo Laboratorio Para El Arte, 120, La Habana, Cuba.
Is there Wireless Internet Access available in Hotel Rooms?
It’s very rare to find internet access in your hotel room aside from the hotel lobby. I know for a fact that the Melia Habana in Miramar offers internet access to the guests in the higher executive floors. You’ll have to ask the front desk agent to see if any of the lower floor rooms can connect to the hotel lobby’s internet router. You might just get lucky!
How to Get the Most out of Internet Access in Cuba
As I’ve previously mentioned, the internet time blocks can be stopped and resumed at a later time. To get the most out of the internet in Cuba, prepare your e-mails in ‘Draft’ format and they’ll be ready to go when you connect to the Cuban internet.
If you’re an avid social media user, prepare your tweets in advance and your Instagram pictures. I prepared my Instagram captions on the iPhone’s notepad and all my images and text were ready to go as soon as I connected to the internet.
Be prepared to know which websites you’ll be able to visit and have a plan of attack as soon as you connect to the internet because the time is ticking.
Here are two 1 hour internet codes up for grabs if you’re planning on traveling to Cuba anytime soon. Let me know if they’ve already been used.
If you have any questions about internet in Cuba, please let me know in the comments below and I will respond back.