You Can Travel to Cuba Legally

Some may believe it’s no longer legal to travel to Cuba. That’s not the case! Global Volunteers offers legal and deeply meaningful Cuba travel on carefully curated volunteer programs.

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“Global Volunteers will help us bring about the necessary changes our nation craves through friendship and support. We’re building bridges over which our governments will walk.”

Eduardo GonzalezPastor and community leader in Ciego de Avila

Cuba with Global Volunteers was rewarding, safe, fulfilling, and fun.  It was everything I hoped for!”

Keith KresgeGlobal Volunteer Alumnus of 24 Programs

“Now is the time to forge bonds with Cuba, not postpone or stop doing so.  Every Cuban I met, from the airport personnel upon arrival to host families, the Cuban Program partners, and the people we met on the streets were helpful, friendly, curious, and open.”

Sally Nist3-Time Global Volunteer Cuba Alumnus

“When I’m in Cuba, this time I think I’m going to feel it’s even more important to show that I’m there to help – and volunteer in any way I can to show by example the better side of Americans.”

Joel FuentesGlobal Volunteers Cuba Alumnus

“Indeed, the trip was a remarkable opportunity to connect with the Cuban people – including the chance to stay with hosts in comfortable casas.  If you stayed in an expensive hotel, and only visited Old Havana and beaches, you’d miss out on a really valuable slice of Cuban life!”

Michael TormeyGlobal Volunteer Cuba Alumnus from Northeastern University

“It was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. Spending hours and hours with the same students, practicing English, allowed us to develop deep friendships with the people of Cuba. I was even able to visit one of my students in her home.  I highly recommend this program.”

Carolin KeutzerGlobal Volunteer Cuba Alumnus

“This was heart-to-heart service. We connected with all sectors of society – farmers, bee-keepers, maids, students, church-goers, and everyone on the street. What united us was work, laughter, and music. Regardless of governments, people will still connect.”

Randy QuinbyGlobal Volunteer Cuba Alumnus

“I’m humbled by these all-too-brief two weeks in Ciego de Avila. There may be economic hardships here, but there is also much generosity, love, kindness, goodness, and oh yes, unbridled happiness! It has been in the volunteer work that we have really come to know and, to some degree, understand the Cuban soul.”

Sieja WebbGlobal Volunteer Cuba Alumnus

“Cuba has an essence that stirs the heart and soul.  We worked with our Cuban ‘brothers and sisters’ pulling weeds, carrying water, painting walls, sanding ceramics and tutoring children. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Add it to your bucket list, and then go now!” 

Tom McMahonGlobal Volunteer Cuba Alumnus

“I’m amazed at the generosity of the people…and the richness of their souls. It was such a privilege just to be standing among them at a church service – and to work with them every day. The trip made me realize how precious people are.”

Holly DollGlobal Volunteer Alumnus of 6 Programs

“What a wonderful experience we had in Cuba. I’m convinced that the only way to really learn about Cuba – the old and the new – is through Global Volunteers. For Shirley and me, it was the trip of a lifetime.

Jim HermanGlobal Volunteer Cuba Alumnus

“We felt part of the community. The farmers at the organic garden were a delight to work with. One of them approached us in town on Sunday morning with a big smile of recognition. Another brought us fruit for our lunch. Their openness was heart-warming.

Ellen HolzschuhGlobal Volunteer Alumnus of 13 Programs

“This trip met my expectations and even more! Experiencing the way the Cuban people live is amazing, and I felt like I learned so much in this trip. It was rewarding in so many ways. I hope I made an impact on my new friends as much as they have left an impact on me.” 

Hannah QuickStudent Global Volunteer in Cuba

Global Volunteers service programs fulfill the requirements of US law as legal travel to Cuba under a general license because you:

  • Devote a full-time schedule (40 hours per week) of meaningful service alongside Cubans
  • Support the Cuban people through activities such as teaching conversational English, working with a woman’s craft cooperative, providing elder support, gardening, and engaging in light construction and painting, all of which promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba;
  • Stay at private residents (casa particulars – Cubans equivalent to B&Bs);
  • Eat in privately owned restaurants (meals at paladares are delicious and authentic Cuban cuisine);
  • Shop at privately-owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (during free time);
  • Visit private theaters, art museums, nonprofit foundations (during free time);
  • Keep a full and accurate record of your daily activities.

However, US law does not permit you to spend just some of the day involved in authorized activities.  Every traveler to Cuba must individually qualify for the general license by maintaining a full time schedule of legal activities.  The law continues to prohibit “tourist” pursuits, for example, going to the beach, spending an afternoon at a pub, or visiting a government owned cigar shop.  Additional legal information here.

Programs are scheduled every month.  Service programs alternate monthly between Havana and Ciego de Ávila. You will be engaged in a full-time schedule of community work projects as required by US government regulations.

Free timeDuring non-work hours, you are free to participate in other authorized activities at your own expense. There is no service work during the middle weekend of a 2-week program, and we provide you a list of optional free time activities that meet the requirements of a full-time schedule.  Those who serve in Ciego de Avila may want to go to Havana for the weekend or Moron on Saturday.

Help advance mutual understanding and respect as a volunteer in Cuba! Learn and serve in Havana and Ciego de Ávila – where you’re fully immersed in Cuban daily life.  Show the Cuban people that Americans care about their future.  Our community service projects support the Cuban people, help advance their vision and promote civil society – all in one or two weeks!  Is Cuba safe?  Absolutely!  Listen to our host partner here.

  • English Conversation

    English is the international language of opportunity.  Young Cubans want to improve their English proficiency because they must speak English to get good private sector jobs.  Practice English with teens and adults using Global Volunteers tried and proven Conversational English Teaching Guide. Help students attain confidence and fluency through lively conversations. Meet in small groups to practice vocabulary, pronunciation, idioms and common phrases. Use music, games, and your own creativity – no formal teaching experience is required.  Every native English speaker can do this!

  • WOMEN’S CRAFTS COOPERATIVE

    Work alongside local women sewing and/or knitting baby clothes, aprons, crafts, etc. which are sold to benefit the women’s cooperative interests. If you can bring fabric, thread, buttons, needles, etc., it is of great help because those items are difficult to find on the island.  Share your skills; make new friends; help women become self reliant. You’ll have the time of your life!

  • COMMUNITY GARDENING (Ciego de Ávila only)

    Throughout the island, community gardens supply produce for preschools, senior centers and markets for local residents. Help plant, weed, and harvest fruits and vegetables with seniors who maintain the gardens on behalf of their community.

  • ELDER SUPPORT (Havana only)

    The Cuban government is ill-equipped to provide meaningful services and engagement to the high percentage of seniors in Havana. The Cuban Council of Churches helps by conducting programs for the elderly at church facilities, where volunteers converse in English, play games, offer physical therapy, and engage seniors in other ways as requested.

  • PAINT AND REPAIR

    Most buildings require repair and maintenance.  The trade embargo has deprived Cubans of resources, and lack of materials makes repair and maintenance extremely difficult. Help update and improve community buildings by scraping, sanding, and painting, and provide plumbing, carpentry, and electrical maintenance assistance.

Volunteer in Havana, Cuba

Program Snapshot: Volunteer in Cuba

1 & 2 weeks year-round

Countribution:
$2,362* – $2,995

* with qualifying discounts.

Community Projects Include:
English Conversation, Women’s Craft Co-op, Light Labor, Senior Care, Community Gardens and More

Local time:





Meaningful Community Service.

Local leaders, in consultation with community members, decide what they need and how each volunteer can be most helpful.  Based upon your skills and interests, you’ll be assigned to one or more service projects – ranging from practicing conversational English with students and youth; working in community gardens;  supporting and assisting seniors; creating crafts with a local women’s cooperative; to helping with light construction and/or painting.  Our local partners consider your skills and interests, and the current community needs.  Everyone is needed; everyone can be meaningfully engaged.

volunteer in Cuba

FAQs: How to Volunteer in Cuba

Your contribution to Global Volunteers to volunteer in Cuba is tax-deductible. Select either Havana or Ciego de Ávila below to see available dates. Select a specific date, and register to volunteer in Cuba with your $350 deposit. Applicable discounts are explained here.  If you prefer, you may print a text registration form and submit it by mail or fax.

Children under age 18 must register as a minor and travel with a parent or adult legal guardian.  Please call a volunteer coordinator at (651 )407-6100 for help if needed for any of these steps.

Lodging is double-occupancy, with a single room option for an additional fee. See single room fees here.

Note: Those who register six months (180 days) in advance for international programs, receive a $233 discount (one per family or group). Register early and help us confirm our commitment to the communities we serve.

Upcoming Volunteer Dates in Cuba

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Food and Lodging

Volunteers stay in very comfortable, family owned casas particulares (B&Bs) – double occupancy (singles available for an additional fee).  Located in safe residential neighborhoods, you’ll enjoy the hospitality of your hosts, the ambiance of the community, and the way the city comes to life at night!  Homemade breakfast is served every morning.  All rooms in Havana and Ciego de Ávila include:

  • Private bathroom with shower
  • Air conditioning
  • In-room television (Cuban channels)
  • 110 volt electrical outlets
  • Single rooms available for an extra fee

Breakfast typically consists of fresh fruit, cereal, eggs, juice, toast, and coffee or tea. Lunch is most often sandwiches and fresh fruit. Dinner at local private restaurants features Cuban delights of seafood, beef, chicken, pork, fresh vegetables and breads served “family style”. Purified water is provided. Vegetarian options are limited, but can generally be arranged.

Volunteer in Cuba: Overview by Community

HavanaCiego de Ávila
Flights:Commercial Commercial
LodgingB&B-style lodgingB&B-style lodging
Community  Projects
English conversationYesYes
Light laborYesYes
Sewing/knittingYesYes
Community gardensN/AYes
Senior meal preparationN/AYes
Elder supportYesN/A

Ciego de Ávila volunteers fly in and out of Santa Clara where you will be met by Global Volunteers’ team leader. Two-week volunteers in Ciego de Ávila can visit Havana during the middle weekend at your own expense.  Havana Volunteers fly in and out of Havana. Review a standard volunteer program schedule here.

 

Be The Change.

Through full-day volunteer assignments, you’ll learn from and about the Cuban people and their culture. Our volunteer program model and time-tested and proven philosophy of service (since 1984) ensures your efforts help advance the host community’s development vision and goals. You contribute to genuine community projects, and in doing so, you’re accepted as family. Our commitment to work in partnership on long-term community projects enables you, in just a short time, to serve as a critical link in a long chain of volunteer support spanning three decades.

Volunteer Voices:

Read more about what to expect as a volunteer in Cuba on our program blog or in the posts below.  Note: some blogs may reference People to People programs; however, US law no longer permits these programs.  They are mentioned here simply to offer a flavor of the incredible Cuban travel experience.

Request a Volunteer in Cuba Program Fact Sheet







Single Room Fees and Availability