Everything You Need To Know About WiFi In Cuba 2018
Most people travelling to Cuba wonder whether ‘Do they have internet in Cuba’? ‘Can you get any internet access in Cuba?’ ‘Do most resorts have WiFi in Cuba?’.
We travelled to Cuba in November for a few weeks and could find little to no information about the WiFi in Cuba.
Most posts had vague details about the WiFi in Cuba, how and where to connect, if there is free WiFi in Cuba or what is the internet speed in Cuba.
Since we travelled to the country, we realised that although at times it can get tricky to connect, the WiFi in Cuba isn’t as bad as many would say.
We decided to put together the most comprehensive Cuba wifi guide to help other backpackers travelling to Cuba.
Do they have internet in Cuba?
The internet in Cuba was introduced in the late 90’s but because of government restrictions, lack of funding and many other factors, it didn’t improve until 2007.
Even then the internet was barely existent in Cuba.
In 2015 the first WiFi hotspot in Cuba was introduced to 35 public locations. As of 2016, almost 40% of the Cuban population was using WiFi.
By January 2018 there were approx. 500 hotspots scattered across the island providing internet access.
Can you get internet access in Cuba?
Yes, there is internet available in Cuba. The internet speed is nowhere near to the one you are used to at home, but you can connect to the network and browse the web which is most important.
Websites, emails, and other apps like WhatsApp usually load fine, but YouTube videos and other multimedia take forever.
We had no issues accessing Facebook or Instagram, the e-mail, however, was a bit trickier with trying to view our Gmail accounts.
How to get internet and WiFi in Cuba?
You can connect to the wifi in Cuba ETECSA (Cuba’s government-owned telecommunications provider) hotspot in almost every place you go to in Cuba.
Originally the WiFi in Cuba was available only in major cities such as Havana, but eventually, they expanded, and now you can connect from almost every location you are in.
There are over 700 WiFi hotspots in Cuba.
Although the internet speed has a lot to improve, the internet in Cuba has become more accessible to locals and travellers and is continually growing.
To access the ETECSA hotspot, you will need to purchase a prepaid internet card.
Where to buy ETECSA prepaid hotspot card?
There are several options to purchase ETECSA hotspot card.
There are three different card options available to purchase at this moment:
- 1 hour of internet
- 3 hours of internet
- 5 hours of internet
To get the card, head to the nearest ETSECA office. You will usually find one next to the WiFi hotspot and purchase one of the Nauta internet cards.
You can easily spot the ETECSA centre because there will be a line of locals and tourists queuing or leaning against the wall.
Here’s how Cuba Natura WiFi cards look like
You can also purchase these cards at most 4* + hotel lobbies. They don’t generally advertise it as you need to be hotel guest to be able to get it.
In most cases, however, we were able to purchase the cards without any questions asked.
Sometimes you might be asked to purchase something from lobby bar to be able to buy ETECSA card from them.
The last option is to purchase it from locals on the street.
The last two options are usually more expensive, but you are avoiding the queues.
We paid anywhere from CUC 1.50 to CUC 3 for 1 hour of internet.
How to connect to ETECSA hotspot with Natura scratchcard?
Each ETECSA card has a unique username (Spanish: Usario) and password (Spanish: Contraseña), which you will need to log into the ETECSA internet service.
We used these scratchcards on our phones and laptops without any problem. Keep in mind that you can use the same login details only on one device at a time.
If you are using your Natura card on the phone, you have to disconnect and wait one or two minutes before you can connect on your laptop with the same login details.
How to log in to ETECSA WiFi in Cuba:
- Connect to the ETECSA wifi hotspot on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop
- Wait for the login window to pop up
- Type in your username and password
- Hit “Accept” button.
The page will refresh, and a timer will come on showing you how much browsing time you have left.
If the popup window won’t come up directly go to your web browser and type in 126.96.36.199
How to log off with ETECSA WiFi in Cuba:
- Type 188.8.131.52 into the search browser
- Click ‘cerrar sesión’
If you have not used your time, then the credit will be available for you to use again.
Make sure always to log off or go on aeroplane mode as otherwise, you will lose your unused credit.
If you purchased wifi card from a hotel and it doesn’t say Natura on it, you might have limited time frame to use your credit.
We purchased one hour of the internet from Hotel Nacional Hotel lobby. After we finished, we logged off and returned the next day to find out we can’t use our remaining 30 minutes as the cards are valid only for 24 hrs from activating.
How to ask for the internet card in Cuba in Spanish?
Just ask “Tarjeta de internet” (Spanish for “internet card”) to get ETECSA internet card.
Can you connect to free WiFi in Cuba?
There is no free internet in Cuba, and although you might come across some hotels advertising ‘free WiFi’, they are most likely going to give you little to no free internet.
We stayed at a few high-end hotels and were unable to get any free WiFi.
As far as we know some hotels will give you 30 minutes to one hour of complimentary WiFi but that’s it. You will have to pay to use any more WiFi in Cuba.
Internet speed in Cuba
The internet speed in Cuba is nowhere near the fast internet you will get in the USA, Canada, UK or in fact most countries around the world.
The upload and download speeds are very low, but you are still able to browse the web.
Keep in mind that many websites don’t work in Cuba so do your research well in advance.
Why there is no free WiFi in Cuba?
Because WiFi in Cuba is owned by the government and there are no private telecommunication companies supplying internet to Cuban’s everyone has to pay for the internet.
Cuban government tracks every single wifi login, and many foreign websites do not work in Cuba (especially from the USA).
Do mobile phones work in Cuba or 3G mobile in Cuba?
You can rent a SIM card in Cuba.
If you have an unlocked mobile phone, you can rent a SIM card from Cubacel that will allow you to use your phone in Cuba.
The SIM cards are available in pre-paid minutes in the amount of CUC 10, 20 or 40. Additionally, you will be required to pay CUC 3 daily fee for the card rental.
You can also rent a mobile phone from Cubacel.
There are Cubacel offices in Terminal 2 and three at José Martí International Airport in Havana. The service is expensive, but it is a good option if you need to use a mobile phone in Cuba.
The telecommunications market in Cuba is changing fast, so before you travel, make sure to check with your phone provider for the latest updates.
WiFi in Cuba hotels
The internet in Cuba hotels is becoming more and more available. Many high-end hotels offer WiFi for their guests.
You can purchase the Natura WiFi card from them and connect to the hotspot. Some hotels such as Hotel Nacional sell one hour of internet usage for CUC 5.
The card is only valid for 24 hours though so if you don’t use all minutes, they will be deactivated after 24hrs.
Always make sure to check usage details when purchasing WiFi cards from hotels.
So far we found no hotels and resorts in Cuba with free WiFi.
Even all-inclusive resorts in Cuba with free WiFi are nonexistent. We stayed for a few nights at an all-inclusive resort in Varadero and still had to pay for WiFi.
The Natura WiFi cards were slightly more expensive there, and we paid CUC 2 for one hour of internet.
WiFi in Casa Particulares
Casas Particulares are very popular amongst backpackers travelling to Cuba. They are a cheaper alternative to hotels, and you get the chance to stay with the locals.
Some casa particulares now also offer WiFi to their guests. If you want to find out if a casa has a WiFi simply check out vacancies on Airbnb.
We booked fantastic accommodation in Cuba through Airbnb, and you can read the reviews and find out if the place has WiFi.
Cuba WiFi access and quality
The wifi in Cuba changes rapidly and the government seems to be doing a great job in improving the internet access in Cuba.
Although the internet speed in Cuba is nowhere near to what you are used to, you can still easily browse the web in Cuba.
Cuba WiFi hotspots are growing every year, and now there are hundreds of hotspots available across Cuba.
Here are some of the hotspots where tourists can connect to WiFi in Cuba:
- Ciego de Avila
- Santiago de Cuba
- Villa Clara
- La Habana
- Sancti Spiritus
For full details and map check this Cuba WiFi hotspots list.
Our Cuba WiFi tips before you get to Cuba
- Google places you want to see and make a list of the top attractions you don’t want to miss
- Find and save restaurants you want to eat at before travelling to Cuba
- Download offline maps like maps.me
- Download audiobooks, music and podcasts you want to listen to beforehand
Our Cuba WiFi tips when you are already in the country
- Type all your emails, messages and other important things you wish to share with your family, friends into your laptop or phone. When you connect to the WiFi copy and paste your content and you are done!
- Make a list of things you need to do online and follow it after you log in, so you don’t waste any time on Facebook or Instagram
- Edit your photos before you go online
- Keep an eye on the time you spend on the web or better yet set the timer
There is a lot to consider when you are visiting Cuba and we have much more covered in our ‘ 30 things you should know before visiting Cuba‘ guide.
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