Cuba Travel Advice - Operation Wallacea

Expedition Information

Cuba Travel Advice


Please read each of the sections below carefully. They provide important information relevant to your Operation Wallacea expedition in Cuba, including travel recommendations prior to your expedition commencing. Of course, should you require further assistance please do not hesitate to contact your nearest Operation Wallacea office.

School groups that have chosen a fully inclusive expedition package do not need to book their own flights or in-country travel as these will be provided by Operation Wallacea.

Updated: February 2017

Start and  Finish Times

For groups or individuals joining our marine expedition on the Isle of Youth, the expeditions start on a Friday at 08:00 hrs at the Colony Hotel, Isla de la Juventud, and finish on a Thursday at 08:00 hrs at the same location.

For school groups joining our terrestrial only expedition to Baracoa, the expeditions start on a Friday at 08:00 hrs at the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park Field Centre, and finish on a Thursday at 08:00 hrs at the same location.

Booking International Flights

Groups and individuals joining an Isle of Youth expedition need to book international flights to arrive into Havana at the latest on the Wednesday before the expedition starts and to depart Havana at the earliest on the Friday after the expedition finishes.

School groups joining a Baracoa expedition need to book international flights to arrive into Holguin at the latest on the Wednesday before the expedition starts and to depart Holguin at the earliest on the Friday after the expedition finishes.

Packaged School Groups

Operation Wallacea will be in contact with the group leader directly and will provide you with a fully inclusive quote for your international flights, internal travel and expedition costs.

Non-Packaged School Groups (booking your own international flights)

If you are booking your own international flights departing from a country other than the US, then we recommend that you contact the following air suppliers who are all familiar with the Operation Wallacea expedition programme and will be able to provide you with a competitive quote.

Travel Nation
Tel: 01273 964 034

STA Travel
Tel: 0161 667 0065

For those booking flights from the US please email their preferred travel partner

When you have booked and confirmed your flights you should enter all the details through the Opwall portal and email a copy of your itinerary or E-ticket to


Once you have booked your expedition with us you will be contacted by our preferred travel partner Travel Nation who will provide you with competitive quotes for your international flights.

Travel Nation
Tel: 01273 947 313
International Contact: +44 (0) 1273 947 313

When you have booked and confirmed your flights you should enter all the details through the Opwall portal and email a copy of your itinerary or E-ticket to

Booking In-Country Travel

The internal travel package* between your international arrival point (Havana Airport for Isle of Youth expeditions, Holguin Airport for Baracoa expeditions) and the expedition start and end points will be arranged by our Internal Travel team and is not included in the expedition cost, unless you have chosen a fully inclusive expedition package. Additional guided excursions and day trips to be taken prior to and after your expedition are available upon request.

*Includes airport meet & greet, any required travel and accommodation and full representation.

Cuba internal travel packages start at £200 depending on your particular requirements.

Medical and Travel Insurance

Opwall has insurance in place to provide medical and repatriation cover up to £1 million for all participants on the expedition.  We do this through Cover-More who are a global insurance company covering in excess of a million travellers every year. Detailed medical and evacuation plans are sent to Cover-More’s medical emergency team in advance of the expeditions.  If there are any medical issues on the expeditions all plans have been agreed in advance so there are no delays in providing any medical support that might be needed.  The medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall also covers travel to and from the site.

In addition to this medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall, it is strongly recommended that you have top-up insurance (which can also be provided by Cover-More) to cover the following items:

  • If you have an existing medical condition that may be exacerbated by the expedition and require additional medical treatment in hospital other than that provided by the Opwall medical staff in the field at each site, or may even require repatriation in severe cases, then the Opwall medical and evacuation cover will not cover the costs of this additional medical treatment and evacuation. For pre-existing medical conditions then specialist insurance cover can be obtained from Cover-More.
  • Need to cancel the expedition and flights because of illness to you or a close family member, call for jury duty or other insured conditions making it impossible to reach the departure point for the trip.
  • Costs of re-booking connecting flights, boat or overland transfers to the start and from the finish points of the expedition in the event of delays caused in connecting flights or overland transfers due to delayed flights, ferries or buses because of mechanical breakdown of transport or adverse weather conditions, strikes, industrial action, riot or civil commotion, bomb scares, criminal or terrorist acts, etc.
  • Loss of personal baggage, clothing or items such as cameras or electronic items or the costs of having to buy replacement items if baggage is delayed.

For participants who depart from and return to the UK, a special policy which dovetails into the medical and repatriation cover provided by Opwall can be obtained from Cover-More. If you wish to purchase a ‘Top-Up’ travel insurance policy to cover additional benefits such as cancellation and baggage please contact the Customer Service team at Cover-More Insurance Services on 01245 272408 quoting reference CMU0009.

Note for Canadian volunteers joining the expeditions all the travel insurance elements described above are included in the package provided by Victor Travel.



Please be aware that your passport must have at least 6 months validity (period before expiry) at the time of your arrival into Cuba. Failure to have at least 6 months validity on your passport will ensure denial of entry into Cuba.

All volunteers on the Operation Wallacea project in Cuba will need to enter the country on a Tourist Visa, valid for 30 days, which you will need to get in advance. The easiest way to do this is by booking it online at the Visa Cuba website at a cost of £26 plus postage. On the first page of the form you need to click that you have hotel accommodation booked for 3 nights or more. You can then fill in the details for just yourself or if you are part of a group you can complete the details for up to 10 people at a time. For Isle of Youth expeditions the address of the hotel you need to fill in is Colony Hotel, Carr De La Siguanea, Km 41, Isla de la Juventud. If you need a visa for longer than 30 days you will be able to extend your visa in offices in Nueva Gerona, on the Isle of Youth. A member of staff will be able to help you organize this on-site, and you should allow around $1 for the bus and $25 for the visa extension. For the Baracoa expedition the address you need to fill in is Alejandro de Holboldt Field Centre, Baracoa. Please note that some airlines (i.e. Air Canada) distribute tourist cards on the flight to Cuba free of charge, so please check with your airline before you apply for a tourist card.

IMPORTANT for Canadians:
The first thing you should do is ask the airline/travel agent if your flight to Cuba includes the cost of a tourist card. Some airlines, specifically Air Canada, include a tourist card with a ticket to Cuba. In this case, you do not need to apply for a Tourist Card in advance. If this is not the case for your airline ticket, you will need to apply for a Tourist Card.

Please visit this link for more information regarding obtaining a tourist card: and scroll down to “Tourist Card”. The application form can be found on the left column. Depending on your province of residence, you will apply at the Toronto or Montreal consulates. If applying in person, the cost for a tourist card is CAD$ 24. If mailed in, the cost is CAD$ 54. You do NOT need to mail in your passport; a legible photocopy is required. Please contact the Canadian Opwall office for assistance.

IMPORTANT for Americans:

In general, the vast majority of passengers get the tourist card near the departure gate of the airport that connects directly to Cuba, for example MIA or LAX. The cost of the tourist card itself is $50, but may have an additional processing fee of $35. Most airlines have a partnership with Cuba Travel Service, which processes and issues the tourist card, but this is where the cost varies.

If any traveler would prefer to get their tourist card in advance, say because of a tight connection or for general peace of mind, then they can do so through Cuba Travel Services, but have to pay an additional $25 for shipping.

When you have booked your flights, please check with your airline to identify their agreement with the Cuba Travel Service. Please contact our American Office for assistance.

Cultural Advice

Operation Wallacea operates in very remote parts of Cuba and you will find nothing but a very warm welcome from the local people. The research is run in conjunction with the University of Havana. Operation Wallacea have staff in their UK office who have first hand experience of the Cuba expeditions and they are happy to discuss any concerns you might have in advance of the expeditions. Alternatively Dr Jorge Angulo, Director of the Marine Research Centre at the University, would also be happy to discuss any issues you might have and we can put you in touch with him directly.

Alcohol; Though alcohol is widely available in Cuba, drunkenness is not acceptable. Though beer is available in the village, you will be asked to limit your consumption, both out of respect to the community in which you will be living, but also because of the dangers posed by consuming alcohol prior to SCUBA diving and undertaking other potentially risky activities. It is also important to remember that drunkenness poses a serious risk to health and safety. For this reason spirits are not permitted on any of our sites.