Cuba’s pretty famous for being off the grid. In fact, I was convinced i’d be treated to a week of no connectivity and complete digital separation from the outside world. Not so, I realised upon arriving in Cuba when I spotted groups of young people gathered together, heads and shoulder bent in the familiar hunched social-media browsing pose we are so used to seeing in the UK.
Yep, you CAN get wifi in Cuba in 2017.
You can even get 3G signal on your phone – if you fancy paying £6 per MB that is. Just to put that into context; loading Facebook on your phone just to see your newsfeed (without scrolling) is 500kb – so that’s basically £6 to look at two scrolls worth of dumb status updates and click bait articles.
If you have US cell service provider, I’m not sure it works at all – but for that price, I think you’re far better off not touching it!
Safe to say, I was limiting my online activity to one hour a day in a wifi zone as and where I could find it.
How To Find WIFI in Cuba
As with all things and businesses in Cuba, the Wifi connection is owned and controlled by the Cuban government. The WIFI is run by their network called ETESCA and allow you to buy scratch cards that give you a WIFI username and password that you can log in and out of. Basically, you can buy a 1 hour or 5 hour WIFI card – but you don’t have to use it in a 1 hour or 5 hour block. You could for example, go on for 15 minutes then sign out and sign back in again later that day or that week.
The Cuban government are rolling out WIFI quite slowly so at the moment, so only certain places have connections and this can be very slow. I think, to make Cuba more of an attractive place for foreigners to visit, they’ve allocated WIFI to pretty much all the big hotel complexes – especially in Varadero and Havana anyway.
Here, you can use the WIFI in a certain area of the hotel – for example the lobby or bar area buy purchasing a card and connecting up.
If you’re staying in a Casa Particulares however, look out for the ETESCA WIFI shops as you can buy cards and use the Wifi here.
Cuba WIFI Tip:
Buy your ETESCA cards directly from the shops as they are much cheaper than buying them in hotels.
E.g. 1 hour is 1.50 CUC and 5 hours is 7.50 CUC from the ETESCA shops, however in hotels we saw prices ranging from 2CUC to 4.50 CUC for 1 hour!
Where Do I Connect To WIFI in Cuba?
WIFI points are also available in public parks (e.g Parque Centrale in Havana) and anywhere where you spot lots of Cubans all sat on their phones.
I was actually surprised to see how many locals had smartphones here, but they do. Cubans are keen to be connected and everyone we met had social media accounts that they regularly updated.
The best place for tourists to connect to WIFI however is in your hotel lobby. I found the connection is generally faster and better here. Places like El Floridita having WIFI too – as they are popular tourist spots and the Government is keen for toursits to have internet access it seems.
One thing to note; we bought a 5 hour card in Havana – however it did not work in Varadero. I think that WIFI cards work for certain districts, so if you’re in the Havana area your card works there, but if you’re in Holguin, Varadero or Santiago De Cuba then they have different WIFI IPs.
How Do I Log In And Out?
When you’ve entered your user name and password into the pop up, you’ll be free to use the internet. It’s a little temperamental and might take you a couple of attempts, but this is just Cuba time!
To log out of your card, so you can keep remaining time for later on you need to type 126.96.36.199 into your browser. This will bring up a page that lets you select a Log Out of session option. If it’s in Spanish and you can’t understand, simply switch to English by tapping EN at the top of the page.
You’ll get a confirmation message saying you’ve logged out and telling you how much time you have left of your WIFI.
See the list of WIFI spots in Havana and Havana Hotels below. For Cuba pictures visit my Cuba blog.
Public WIFI spots in Havana (For a full list check out the list on TripAdvisor)
- All international Airports (Havana, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Holguin, Santiago, Varadero)
- Parque Central, Havana
- El Floridita, Havana
- Parque Linea y L in Habana Vedado
- Balneario Universitario 1ra y 42 in Habana Miramar/Playa,
- Parque 13 y 76 in Habana Miramar/Playa
- Pabellones Central and 14 at Expocuba (Parque Lenin)
- Parque de Campo Florido in Habana del Este,
- Parque de Calabazar in Boyeros
- Parque de 51 + Punta Brava in La Lisa,
- Parque 51 y 76 + El Anfiteatro de Marianao
- El Paseo de la Villa Panamericana
- Parque 9 de Abril + Parque de Santa Maria del Rosario in Cotorro
- Parque Mónaco + Parque Cordoba in 10 de Octubre
- Parque Jose Marti in San Antonio de las Vegas
- Parque Santa Amalia in Arroyo Naranjo
- Parque las Madres in Regla
- Parque José Martin San Miguel del Padro
- Parque Hanoi + Centro Cultural in Alama
- Parque Central + Parque Viondi in Guanabacoa
Hotels With WIFI in Havana
Hotel Nacional de Cuba
NH Capri La Habana
Memories Miramar Habana
Hotel San Miguel
El Meson De La Flota
Hotel Habana Peseo
Iberostar Parque Central
H10 Habana Panorama
Hotel Mercure Sevilla Havane
Hotel Ambos Mundos
Armadores de Santander Hotel
Be Live Havana City Copacabana
Hotel Roc Presidente
Hotel Beltran de Santa Cruz
Gran Caribe Club Atlantico
Hotel del Tejadillo
Hotel Club Acuario
Hotel Santa Isabel
Cubanacan Boutique Chateau Miramar
Hotel Marques de Prado Ameno
Park View Hotel
Hotel Palacio O’Farrill
Hotel Saint John’s
Islazul Terrazas Las Aparthotel
Hotel Bella Habana Aeropuerto
Islazul Hotel Lincoln
See more hotels on TripAdvisor