Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideBlack and White Bikini

Tulum is a small town in Mexico about an hour and a half away from Cancun. I originally visited it for a day trip three years ago while vacationing in Playa Del Carmen on an excursion to see the Mayan Ruins. It was underdeveloped then but still had a whimsical feel to it. Since then, it’s changed quite a bit with hotel and restaurant additions so instead of visiting my go-to Playa Del Carmen, I decided to take on Tulum for a few days.

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My boyfriend and I booked our flights just two weeks before Memorial Day because we wanted to take advantage of the day-off from work. We had a 7 a.m. flight that got us to Cancun by 9:30. A two-hour flight was especially efficient to allow us to get a full day in. We decided to rent a car, as opposed to attempting to take a shuttle from the airport. We used National rental car and ended up getting a small Nissan for about $35 a day. This is when blogger life kicked in… I had to make a detour in Cancun because I needed Wifi to post Weekend Deals before it got too late. Desperate, I know. We found a really nice restaurant off the water where I was able to do so.

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We drove an hour and a half to Tulum and got there right before our check-in time. Even though I had cell phone service, my GPS didn’t direct me to our Airbnb accurately. If you do decide to rent a car and drive yourself, contact your host prior to your trip for specific directions. We checked in, got settled then got changed to check out the property as well as the beach. Los Amigos is a nice apartment-like rental property with a gorgeous pool deck on the roof. We went towards the beach (a 15 minute drive) for a few hours and had happy hour drinks at a bar before catching the sunset. In order to get to the beach, you will likely have to go through a hotel and they generally charge day passes unless you’re eating or staying at the hotel.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideFlamingo Jumpsuit | Heels

After getting suggestions from our host, we had dinner at Mateo’s, which is a popular three story open-face restaurant. It’s one of the few places that stays open past midnight off of the beach and the food was delicious. Papaya Playa is the biggest Saturday Night beach party in Tulum. It was about $30 for entry for two people. They played techno music the entire time we were there which was a bit disappointing and I didn’t stay long enough to see if it would change. Heels are fine, unless you plan to dance in the sand. If when the party ends at 2 a.m. you’re still not ready to go, head over to KiKi in the city. It gets good late at night.

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The following morning I was on the hunt for coffee, of course. We found a cute coffee spot off of the beach road called Tunich that was cozy, but delicious. I had an egg white breakfast burrito with two almond milk lattes and I was in heaven. The owner actually works the restaurant and stopped to chat with us, which made the experience more enjoyable. On the way to the beach we picked up a group of hitchhikers (risky I know) who were so nice! We all stopped to have a beer and round of shots together. Coco Beach Club is known to have a fun crowd on Sundays and it was true. They have tables, beds, and a patio with swings and a dance floor. We drank, ate, took naps and swam all day before heading back to the house.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideGold Bikini Top | Bottoms |  Leopard Sarong  | Beach Bag | Shades

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We originally had plans to go to an Italian restaurant called Pasada Margherita for dinner since a friend had suggested it but they were closing right as we arrived and insisted that we try Cenzotle, also called The Secret Garden. It was such a cute vibe and really made you feel like you were eating in a secret garden, plus they offer you organic bug spray. We tried duck tacos, spare ribs and a flavorful whitefish. We wrapped up dinner around 11:30 and headed to La Zebra for salsa night. What we thought was perfect timing was the end of the night for them. There are no power lines off of the beach so everything is ran off of generators, causing them to close early. Once things are closed, it’s pitch black so make sure you begin your nights early unless you want to party in the city. We drove past several little bars you could walk into that were playing music on our way back home.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideFloral embellished romper | Tasseled Sandals
Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideWhite beach shorts | Bandeau

Our last day was without a doubt our most fun because we’d finally got the hang of the town. We had breakfast at Tunich again before visiting the Mayan Ruins. The last time I’d visited I was with a tour guide that led us around the park. This time we winged it and ended up accidentally entering through the exit. Why they would put the exit before the entrance makes no sense to me but I ended up getting into a small altercation with a disrespectful guard who assumed we intentionally had snuck in. It escalated QUICKLY and I know my boyfriend’s first thought was that he was gonna go to Mexican jail LOLLL. It ruined my mood instantly but I wanted him to still get to experience it, so I sucked it up. Wear comfortable shoes and sunscreen because the sun will be blazing. There’s an incredible view of the beach once you reach the top and you can also stay for a swim.

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Once we left we went back to Pasada Margherita to lay out on their beach beds and enjoy some drinks and ended up staying around for lunch. This was one of the pricier meals we had in Tulum, but it was still amazing. There wasn’t a plate on the menu cheaper than $27. I just recently started eating seafood a year or so ago so the fish was a bit too fresh for me but the flavors were light and perfect for a hot beach day. There are happy hours all along the beach zone from 4 until 7 so you can pull in anywhere and have a drink. We stopped at Mateo’s after leaving the beach to catch the sunset since it’s known to have the best view. We were so pleasantly surprised when we arrived to find a DJ playing reggae and I almost cried tears of joy. I had heard no Spanish music the entire time I was in Mexico which was disappointing, but I happily settled for music I would’ve heard here in Houston. I ordered drink after drink and danced ’til it was dark out. I don’t think I sat down at all.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideOff the Shoulder Dress | Panama Hat | Gold Sandals Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

There are food trucks all along the street in Tulum and while they’re delicious, my stomach regretted that decision the entire next day. We had to drive back into Cancun to for our flight but stopped at a restaurant in the Maria Del Mar Hotel before breakfast before leaving. If you do decide to stay in an Airbnb, there are still so many gorgeous hotels that you can enjoy the beach at. The closer we got to leaving the more we wished we had another day to enjoy the things we’d found.

Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Tulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel GuideTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Floral Shorts | Floral Top | Espadrilles [sold out] Similar Here and Here | ShadesTulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide Tulum, Mexico | Travel Guide

If you’re planning on visiting, make sure you have cash on you at all times. Many places only accept American dollars or Mexican pesos. We were leaving the hotel with about $100 in American money a day and still had to use the ATM quite a few times at a $8 fee. The places that did accept debit and credit cards took all American Visas, Mastercards and Amex’s. If you decide not to rent a car, which I highly suggest, avoid taxis as much as you can. They charge tourist outrageous amounts to go from place to place and because they have no meter, you can’t tell them that their amount is wrong.

Tulum is definitely the “Austin” or hippie town of Mexico and felt much less authentic to me than the other parts I’ve visited, which isn’t a bad thing depending on what you’re wanting. It’s beautiful and has a certain simple majestic charm to it that’s hard to match. There are an overwhelming amount of restaurants in Tulum so deciding where to eat can be tricky. Bikes and scooters can be rented from several different places and I suggest them if you’re going to be staying in one area. A beach party we missed but heard great things about is at La Eufemia. It’s known for it’s cool crowd and cheap food and drinks. We didn’t get the chance to check out any lagoons (Laguna Kaan Luum) or cenotes (Cenote Naharon, Cristal & Escondido, Dos Ojos, El Pit, Ik Kil and Gran Cenote), which are what make Tulum so unique so we’ll definitely be back.

Things I Packed and Didn’t Wear:

48 Hours in L.A.

Jumpsuit for my flight

Most of you all follow me on Instagram and know I spent this past weekend in Los Angeles for one of my best friends Christina’s birthday. To say she had a rough year would be an understatement, so there would’ve been no way I would’ve missed the chance to celebrate with her. I took a 7 a.m. flight out Friday morning which was painfully early, but if I’m only going to be there for two days I like to make the most of my time.

I landed at 8:30 a.m. California time, which is one of the perks of the time difference. Christina picked me up and we went to breakfast at Coffee Co. which is a really cute breakfast spot near LAX that puts a Middle Eastern spin on breakfast foods. We figured mimosas at 9 a.m. was a good idea and I had an egg white skillet with potatoes, mushrooms, turkey sausage cheese and avocado and it was BOMB.

Christina had made reservations for us to go to The Broad Museum at noon about a month before my actual visit which I definitely suggest. It was 92 degrees in L.A. and people were in line around the building baking in the sun. As soon as we pulled up, we parked and our reservation time was heading right in. It was one of the best museums I’ve been to. From Andy Warhol, to Jeff Koons to Basquiat. Most people visit this museum specifically for the Infinity Mirrored Room and we’d forgot about it completely. We were about to walk out when the security guard asked us how we liked the room. He let us back in, led us to the front of the line and we got to see it. It was kinda scary because you can only stand on a small black step inside of the room and they only allow you about 90 seconds in it, but it is beautiful.

Sweatsuit short set

Once we wrapped up there, we went to go get Ciera and we headed down to Santa Monica for the night which was a dream. The feel is much different than L.A. and I love the boardwalk, beach and strip-like feel of the hotels and restaurants. We checked into The Shore Hotel and hit the pool for a bit before having to get dressed for dinner. The rest of our friends joined us and we had dinner at Del Frisco’s Grille, then went to the Penthouse at Huntley Hotel which ended abruptly after my poor friend had a moment. We handled it as quickly as we could and ended up enjoying cigars back at the hotel. Side note: using the Hotel Tonight app for booking hotels is amazing. You can find 4 and 5 star hotels the day of your stay for way cheaper than their usual cost.

High waisted swimsuitOrange Pant Suit

The next morning we all got dressed, checked out and had brunch at The Independence where the truffle fries were the best thing on the menu. Of course I took advantage of the bottomless mimosas and shared a breakfast burger with Christina. They also have a really good Cuban sandwich. We drove back to L.A. and took a quick nap before heading to the JBL pool party at the Mondrian Hotel.

Blouse | Shorts@CieraRogers | @ChrissZoe | @DinaLeonne | @AlexandraSafir | @OrangeCalderonSwimsuit

Listen, when I tell you………. this party was so lit – I am not lying. All of us are from Texas and there was a significant difference in how we enjoyed the party and how L.A. girls enjoyed it LOL. We drank, twerked and laughed till it was a wrap and then headed to Berris for Pizza. You MUST have the risotto and lobster pizza. We devoured two 20″ pizzas and were in bed by 11. Being the life of the party is exhausting LOL.

Bodysuit by Shop Chriss Zoe

Sunday morning me, Christina and Alex were up pretty early so we drove to Burbank to have breakfast at Another Broken Egg. Damn we eat a lot huh? We rode down to Venice Beach and rented bikes to ride along the beach, stopping to eat corndogs, fries and funnel cake. It was the most gorgeous day to be outside and the vibe at Venice is always fun. I can’t lie and say that I don’t consider moving my life to L.A. but my family and money is in Houston so.. we shall see.

Shirt | Bralette | Shorts | Sneakers

Things I packed but Didn’t Get to Wear: 

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel Guide

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideJacket | Bodysuit | Vans

It normally takes me a couple of weeks to get around to creating a Travel Guide because I have so much to catch up on once I’m finally home, but this one couldn’t wait. I had the most amazing time in Jamaica. The people, the food, the vibe was all one of a kind. In actuality, my older sister Christian and her long time friends were planning a getaway. I was there when it was being discussed and included myself (just like the good ol’ days) so we ended up being a group of five.

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We flew out on an 11 a.m. flight on a Friday morning with Southwest. All of our flights were relatively inexpensive (roughly $350) but I prefer Southwest for several reasons. They let you check multiple bags with no extra costs and they fly out of our smaller airport here in Houston, which saves you a lot of time. Getting through customs in Jamaica took a little over 30 minutes but when we walked out of the airport it was pouring rain. Not just a gloomy sky and some sprinkles, but hardcore tsunami rain. We instantly felt disappointed. We came to Jamaica for blue water and sunshine and after checking the weather, we saw there was a 90% chance of rain expected the entire time we’d planned to be there. I was already thinking of ways to get to the other side of the country hoping the sun would be out there.

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We’d decided to rent a car, which ended up being a great idea but there were a couple of things we needed to do prior to heading to our rental home. For one, get gas since Sixt gave us a rental on empty. We were also all starving so we stopped at Jerky’s to eat. My sister got wings and fries and I got spicy shrimp with rice and peas and cabbage. The food was amazing and the restaurant was full of locals. Men and women fresh off of work enjoying a drink and children in their school uniforms eating with their parents. Mind you, people in Jamaica move slooooow. There’s not rushing to eat, serve you, or get anywhere so we waited over 30 minutes for food. By this time the rain had let up but we needed to begin heading to our Airbnb. It was high up in the mountains so our GPS wouldn’t direct us and because it had no physical address, we were reading step-by-step directions given to us by the hosts. We begin driving up into the jungle on dirt roads in a Mitsubishi Lancer packed with five women and their luggage trying to read off the directions listed. Finally after about 15 minutes of driving upward, we reach a point where we’re completely lost. The drive was steep and the hills were sharp and at one point our car began rolling backwards. The roadway was so narrow there was no option to turn around, only to reverse and we were losing the sun quickly. We sat in silence not wanting to panic one another but we were all scared as hell. Finally, a car drove up behind us and it was our host! We were so relieved because we had all started thinking worst case scenario. We followed her to the home that we were disturbingly close to LOL.

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We chose to stay in this Airbnb because of the view and it was absolutely worth it. The home was so beautiful we really didn’t have to leave and our hosts James and his wife D were so welcoming. They had a fire going and we had some welcome drinks. We also met another James (we’ll call him Jamesy boy) who agreed to drive us back down the hill to go out later that night because we were terrified of trying it after dark. We got dressed and headed out to Pier One, which is where Stella got her groove back and now I know why LOL. We walked in, ordered rum by the bottle and danced till 3 a.m. in the same spot. We may or may not have even attracted a crowd. What I loved most was the healthy mix of locals and tourists. It was an authentic sweaty Jamaican party that had the perfect mix of classic reggae and turn-up which exactly what we wanted. Me and my sister loooooove reggae so we were in heaven when it wasn’t just the 15 minute mixes we get in Houston. On our way out we had smoked jerk chicken from off of the street and it was incredible. Throw out all cleanliness and health stigmas when eating here, you’ll be just fine.

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The next morning we enjoyed a few hours out by the pool of our AirBNB. We had coffee and fresh juice while overlooking Montego Bay. It was gloomy, but still beautiful and to be honest, I was just glad it wasn’t raining. Our host was an incredible chef and he made us a breakfast of the best pancakes and bacon I’ve ever had. I’m not exaggerating, the best. I had them every morning. Rain was on the schedule so we decided to drive to Negril to see if we could escape it, and we did. Jamesy boy drove us through rain about an hour into Negril where the sun was indeed shining. We pulled into Margaritaville located on Seven Mile Beach which is easily one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to, where we found a DJ and dozens of people laying out. We found some chairs and enjoyed some drinks before deciding to pack up and head back to the house. Travel tip: do not eat at any franchises while in Jamaica. Pull into whatever hole in the wall you see and order food. You won’t regret it. We stopped into a tiny restaurant that felt like a relatives living room and I had the best beef tips. My only regret is not bringing my own hot sauce LOL.

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel Guide

That night we got dressed up and went to Margaritaville in Montego Bay, which turns into a huge night club. We were all drained from staying out late, being up early and then in the sun all day but forced it anyway. This particular Margaritaville seemed to be a tourist stop with tour buses lined up on the curb loading them inside. The music was top 40 from the 2000’s and the vibe was nothing like what we had encountered the night before at Pier One so we decided to head home early for some much needed sleep.

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Sunday morning we woke up knowing that we wanted to head to the beach, but also knew to expect rain eventually. We enjoyed more pancakes at our house then drove about 20 minutes to Doctor’s Cave Beach. It’s a beautiful beach so they charge you $6 to enter and another $6 for a beach chair. Unfortunately it was too gloomy for us so of course Jamesy Boy agreed to drive us back to Negril. We stopped along the road about halfway there for more Red Stripe and some Rum Punches while we all took photos. Of course when we attempted to get back into the car the battery was dead LOL only us! James came to our rescue again (you see a theme here?) and found someone to jump our car. We made it to Negril and went to a bar called Woodstock that ended up being the highlight of our trip. There were only about 20 people there and the DJ played whatever we wanted. For $2 each, we kept the Red Stripe coming for hours and had an entire day party. It rained for about 45 minutes and we all hung out under the covered bar dancing until it cleared. It was the perfect day.

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMe & CookieMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideTop | ShortsMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideBikini | ScarfMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel Guide

We had to head home around 6 pm because we had asked James to make us a big traditional Jamaican meal for our last night in Montego Bay. We all got dressed for dinner and were really blown away at what he prepared. It was by far the best food we had during our stay. Jack fish, jerk chicken, zucchini, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, festivals, cole slaw, green beans and carrots, chard and rice and peas. We asked both James’ and D to join us for dinner and we sat around enjoying wine and had a cigar in front of the fire before calling it an early night.

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMeat patties, yes Lord!Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideShowing Jamesy Boy how we do it in TexasMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel Guide

One of the girls we were with had to head to the airport at 5 a.m. Monday morning so I got up when she did. The sunrise was beyond words. I sat by the pool with a cup of coffee and watched it come over the top of the mountains. Sights like that make me so grateful that I’m in a position to even experience views like that, especially with my sister. Once the sun came up, I went for a swim, had my final order of pancakes (James if you’re reading this, send more) and enjoyed the last few hours of Jamaican sun before having to head to the airport. The hardest part was leaving Jamesy boy behind. We would not have had a good time if it wasn’t for him hosting us and showing us around. We had formed a little family, even with the pups Vybez and Cookie.

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideJumpsuitMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel Guide

Everything in Jamaica is inexpensive. I used American money the entire time and outside of the food ordered at our house, I spent less than $150. Nonetheless, bargain everything. I talked down beers, cigars and souvenirs instead of giving in the first time. Call your banks prior to arriving and let them know you’ll be in Jamaica. You’re able to use the ATM’s there to pull out both American and Jamaican dollars but I suggest downloading a money conversion app onto your phone because the numbers do get tricky.

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Had we not rented a car we would have spent a few hundred dollars getting around with drivers, so that saved us a lot of money. Being able to drive an hour to a different beach or make as many stops as we wanted was really helpful. Keep in mind that they drive on the opposite side of the road and the drivers seat is on the right hand side, so be up for the challenge. While there are so many beautiful things to do in Jamaica like jump off of the cliff at Rick’s Cafe, swim in a blue hole and see a waterfall, or float down the Martha Brae River, we didn’t get around to doing any tourist activities due to the weather which is honestly what I prefer. I hate that I waited so long to visit Jamaica but will definitely be back.

Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideThis view though… seriously unreal.Montego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideDressMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideMe & VybezMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel GuideOne-PieceMontego Bay, Jamaica | Travel Guide

Things I Packed but Didn’t Get to Wear: 

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide

First things first, Cuba was beyond words. It was easily my favorite destination since Canada, for much different reason. I celebrated my recent birthday in Havana with six of my friends. Prior to leaving, I had major anxiety about being disconnected for 5 days since the wi-fi in Havana is few and far between. American travel is still fairly new to Cuba so there are several things you need to before traveling there, but don’t worry – I covered all of that in this post. I wasn’t sure I was 100% prepared, but we showed up and wished we could’ve stayed longer. The culture hasn’t been watered down in any way, very little about it feels touristy and it’s incredibly vibrant. I hope it remains exactly the way that it is because that’s what makes it so unique.

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B Werd

We arrived into the Havana airport at about 5 p.m. on a Thursday evening and went straight to the money exchange counter once we got through TSA. The line was lengthy and exchanging our money took us about an hour and a half. Luckily we didn’t check any bags because we would’ve been in that airport even longer. We took a taxi to our AirBNB where we were met by our host and greeted with mojitos. The home itself was beautiful, but was in a residential area about a 15 minute drive from downtown Havana. It felt like a luxurious villa and was decorated beautifully. Having a host helped us tremendously. Ludmilla and her husband were able to give us suggestions on where to eat, where to go in the evenings and what places were a must-see. This house like any other house in Havana didn’t have wi-fi, but our host walked us about six blocks to the nearest hotel where we were able to connect. Wi-fi in Havana is generally about $1.50 CUC an hour and is pretty decent. Whether you’re staying in a hotel or a rental home, I suggest getting with either the front desk clerk or your host in order to get neighborhood suggestions regarding where to eat, what to see and how to get around.

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdOff the Shoulder Dress | Ray-Bans (on sale)

One of our friends wasn’t flying in until Friday evening, and our other two friends went on an all-day excursion; so me, Jeanette and Anais ate a full breakfast prepared by our house-lady Sonia and got dressed to head out for the day. I have to brag about Sonia for a moment. For $10 per person, Sonia would make us a complete breakfast each morning. Fried eggs, bacon, ham, bread, butter, cheeses and salami, freshly squeezed juices, literally an entire spread. She’d even pack up and store the leftovers so that we could have them throughout the day. We walked to Hotel Kohly for wifi and then took a taxi into Old Havana. The weather was flawless and it was the perfect day to explore the city. The famous tourist bar El Floridita was our first stop but had a line out of the door. We quickly ran into a local Cuban (who I thought was American by his Ray-bans) and he led us to another bar.

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B Werd

Walking through Old Havana is pure magic. Everything is untouched and authentic but still so beautiful. Music flows from different restaurants and hotels into the streets and it’s a mix of natives and tourists. We danced inside of the bar while having drinks and took photos in the streets and quickly got our first dose of what a Cuban tour guide requires. When the check came for the drinks, the two gentleman who were walking us around expected us to cover theirs. When we separated our checks, the waitress asked them if they were Cuban and then charged them less for their drinks than she did for ours. Keep in mind Americans will likely be overcharged for everything because of the assumption that we have money, so negotiate everything.

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B Werd

Of course we had to get a photo in an old fashion car, so we found one that would take us on a city tour for $50 CUC. For an hour, they’ll drive you around to every landmark in the city. We stopped at major attractions like Havana’s Square of Revolution with famous artwork of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, The Malecon, The Capital building and Miramar, which is a beautiful neighborhood. We purchased individual cigars and enjoyed them at a rooftop restaurant we walked into. We finally ended up back at home and got ready to have dinner at Elite, an upscale black and white restaurant in an old home. The food was so, so good. Don Congrejo is a famous Friday spot known for it’s beautiful view that we didn’t get to enjoy after dinner due to rain, but I definitely suggest it for anyone else.

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdDinner at Elite | Similar dress here

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdMy favorite denim shorts of all time

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B Werd

The next day we set up a day-trip to Varadero, which is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen… and I’ve seen a lot of beaches. Luckily we had Sonia to set up car rides for us since Varadero is two hours away. The weather didn’t let us make it this day. It was a drizzling when we woke up but we still decided to go. It went from gloomy to consistent rain once we arrived, so we unfortunately only got to enjoy a few hours of the beach before heading back. We had originally planned to have dinner at La Guarida but didn’t realize we would need a reservation so far in advance. We ended up at Rio Mar, which is a beautiful restaurant up a hill overlooking water. We had a gooooood time. So good that management had to come over and ask us to be quiet lollll. After dinner we went to a reggaeton club called Bolabana, which was right up my alley but tiny. Not to mention we almost got into a fight with some Cuban girls. Little did they know we were from Houston and Dallas TX!

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The next morning it poured hard and that of course put a major damper on our plans for the day. I spent a couple of hours at the Hotel Kohly on wi-fi before the rain finally let up. We got dressed and had a family style meal at El Aljibe. We were starving but the food was incredible. We went back to Old Havana for a few hours for my friends who weren’t with us the day we explored. That evening Sonia gave us a grand finale meal of traditional Cuban food and rum. Chicken, rice and black beans, malanga, plantains, bread and cake. Leaving her was the hardest part. Keep in mind you will likely need to make your own Sunday plans in Cuba. It’s a very slow evening seeing as most restaurants and clubs close down early, so we ended up having a little party at home.

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdOveralls | Off the Shoulder Crop Top | Sam Edelman Tassle Sandal 

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdFloral bodysuit; similar here | Skater Skirt; similar here

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B Werd

In my opinion, nothing in Cuba other than the rum and cigars are worth bringing home as a souvenir. The majority of what you’ll find in souvenir shops will be t-shirts, handmade leather goods, and small items such as coffee mugs and shot glasses. Other things to do are cigar factory tours, a day trip to Trinidad, tour Ernest Hemingway’s house, the Museum of Revolution, and watch the sunset from El Morro. And last but not least, don’t drink the water.

Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B Werd

Jumpsuit | Espadrilles Havana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B WerdHavana, Cuba | Travel Guide | The B Werd

I tried my best to link as many items as I could from what I wore in Cuba. Some things sold out really quickly and others I had in my closet for years and can’t find online. If you have any other questions about traveling to Cuba, drop ’em below. I’m happy to help answer them.

9 Things You Need to Know Before Traveling to Cuba

9 Things to Know Before Traveling to Cuba | The B Werd

I intended on including all of this information in the Havana Travel Guide until I realized it was so much information. American travel to Cuba is relatively new and Cuban government plays a big role in your experience while you’re there. Cuba hasn’t changed much since the 1960’s so most visitors are very unaware of what to expect. Here are 9 things you absolutely need to know when you book a trip to Cuba.

Before you Travel

Get a Visa

A visa is required in order to visit Cuba. Tourist travel is not allowed, so there are 12 allowed travel categories you must fall under in order to apply. Once you book your flight, contact your airlines about purchasing a visa. Southwest sent me a simple link where I purchased one for $50.00 after filling out a quick online form. Your final ticket counter before flying into Cuba will hold your visa for you. For me, that was the Southwest counter in Ft. Lauderdale.

Don’t Flush the Toilet

The bathrooms are very different. By different, I mean… You can’t flush toilet paper or any other toiletries down the toilet. Their plumbing is incredibly sensitive and to be frank, old. When I first used the bathroom in the Havana airport, I thought maybe that one may have just been a little out-of-order. I was wrong. After you clean yourself, it must be thrown into the trash. Many of the restrooms only use bar soap to wash your hands (which isn’t antibacterial) and one went as far as only providing you a bucket of water to dip and rinse your hands in. Because they don’t want folks putting toilet paper in the toilet, some of them won’t even have any in the bathroom. Pack baby wipes or tissue with you and a lot of hand sanitizer. Even still, Cuba was amazing.

Transportation is Tricky

Cuba isn’t an expensive place to visit, but it isn’t necessarily cheap. The majority of our money went to transportation. Only four people are allowed in most cars and because there were six of us, we had to take two cars almost everywhere. A 10 or 15 minute cab ride was costing us between $8 to $20 each time. If you’re planning to walk more than you take taxis, you’ll be fine. There are bus routes, the T1, T2, and T3, that allow you to make several different stops around the city depending on where you’re wanting to go. Here’s a map of every stop each route provides. The most popular route is the T3, that you can catch right outside the front entrance to Tropicoco. It costs 10 CUC but always you to hop off and on and any stop you’d like. You pay when you first get on and show your receipt each time you need to go to a new destination.

Leave your Cards at Home

You can’t use a debit or credit card anywhere in Cuba, cash only. I took $800 cash and converted $500 of that to Euros to be exchanged into CUC (Cuban currency) upon arrival. The Euro gave me better conversion rates than a dollar would have. If at any time I ran out of CUC, I could then exchange more Euros at local banks or most major hotels. I wanted to avoided bringing any type of currency back home that wasn’t US dollars, but I’ve still got 5 Euros in my purse. Cubans without a doubt take advantage of Americans when it comes to money. We had drinks with two Cubans and the waitress charged us 10 CUC, while theirs were 5. They assume we have the money to spend, so I advise you haggle everything. I spent $500 in five days, even with Spanish negotiations.

Don’t Check Bags

The Havana airport is like the rest of the city, outdated; which means there is no automatic baggage claim. All checked luggage is manually taken off the plane and brought to baggage claim. It could hold you up hours once you land. I flew Southwest, so I was able to take a carry-on luggage as well as a large duffel on the plane with me. Whatever you do, keep your luggage with you or you’ll miss out on several hours of actually enjoying Cuba.

Screenshot What you’ll Need

Screenshot all of your important information. You won’t have the luxury of pulling up whatever you need off of your phone at any time. I advise you to screenshot everything you’ll need prior to arriving in Cuba. For example, the location of your hotel and the phone number, the names of landmarks and restaurants you’d like to visit and anything else that will help you navigate more easily. We made the mistake of only screenshotting the address of our AirBNB, but cut off the phone number. That could’ve went really bad. Luckily I was able to load an email AirBNB had sent that had the number included.

Take Snacks

Cuba does not import many things, certainly not Doritos and Capri Suns. Don’t expect to walk into a corner store and pick up your favorites from 711. Luckily I packed a huge bag full of chips, granola bars, oatmeal, gold fish and other bagged items. Outside of our meals, we didn’t eat so all of us were really thankful for those snacks LOL. In most “corner stores” you’ll find mostly beverages and rum.

Questions costs

Our first day in the city, we met two Cuban gentleman who walked us around the city. They took us to several bars, a restaurant with a nice rooftop and even helped us find cigars. We were thankful, but when it was all said it done they had asked for a meal at the restaurant, had drank some of our rum and then asked for a tip. Be mindful that when you stop someone to ask where something is or where something can be found, they’ll gladly show you for a fee.

Translating is Necessary

Havana wasn’t as English savvy as we were expecting it to be. Luckily I was able to ask all the necessary questions we needed in order to get around the city, find the food we like and whatever activities we were interested in. In this post, I mentioned a language phrasebook app that you’re able to use without wifi that allows you to look up familiar phrases regarding eating, greetings, emergencies or everyday common dialogue in whatever language you need. You will need it, believe me.