What is covered by the expedition costs?
The expedition costs paid to Operation Wallacea cover virtually everything from the start point of the expedition to the finish point of the expedition. This includes all accommodation, food, transfers between sites, all on-site training courses (except optional additional courses), diving, $1.5 million medical and evacuation insurance, academic supervision, provision of all the support and medical staff and participation in any of the research projects being offered. The whole science programme and subsequent reporting is supported by the expedition costs.
The only exception is the one off park entrance fee payment of 10 CUC which is paid in cash on-site (all currencies accepted).
Optional training courses and equipment hire
If you have opted to do the PADI Open Water dive training course the training and diving is included in the expedition costs but you have to bring with you a PADI Open Water Manual with PIC card (this is approximately $75 – $125 depending on the country from which you are obtaining these Manuals and the contents of the packs). You can order the correct items from our dive partners Coral View online.
If you are diving and have your own dive equipment bring it with you, but if not there is equipment available to rent; mask (2CUC per day), snorkel (1CUC per day), fins (2CUC per day), BCD (5CUC per day) and regulator (5CUC per day). This works out at 90CUC per week for a full set of dive kit hire, but please note after your first week on site you will not be diving every day as you rotate between different projects. Weights, dive belts and full dive tanks are provided free of charge. These rental costs will need to be paid in cash on-site (all currencies accepted).
Travel, airport tax and visa costs
You are responsible for your own travel costs to and from the start and finish points of the expedition (see travel advice page).
All volunteers on the Operation Wallacea project in Cuba will need to enter the country on a Tourist Visa which you will need to get in advance. For UK citizens the easiest way to do this is by booking it on line at the Visa Cuba website at a cost of £26 plus postage. For those that will be travelling to Cuba via Canada, please check with your airline regarding the tourist card. Some airlines, such as Air Canada, distribute Tourist Cards on the flight. Please check wih your arline to see if you will receive a tourist card on the flight from Toronto to Havana. For UK citizens this visa is valid for 30 days whilst for Canadians the visa lasts 90 days. For Canadian and American citizens please see the information on our travel advice page.
Money to bring with you
You will need enough spending money to cover personal on-site expenditure only. This may include snack and souvenir purchases made at local shops and dive equipment hire.
There are two main currencies in use in Cuba, the Cuban Peso (CUP) and Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC). You will only be able to spend Cuban Convertible Pesos, not Cuban Pesos, but it is impossible to obtain these before travelling. The best way to take spending money is in £ sterling, € or $ Canadian. Do not bring US$, as these are difficult to exchange and you will be charged an extremely high exchange rate. There are money changers in the airport and you can change money in Havana (at the official Exchange offices called CADECA which are easily located). It is strongly recommended that you change your money at the Havana Airport when you arrive in Cuba.
Here are some examples of the costs you may incur to help you estimate the money required; meals in Havana cost 10-20CUC (depending on where you eat and your meal choice) and a can of drink or chocolate bar will cost 1CUC.
Payments for dive hire and additional courses at the site can only be made in cash, card payments cannot be accepted.
Please also consider arranging a contingency fund to cover any emergencies, and check with your bank that your card will work in Cuba if you plan on using it.