Can You See Cuba from Cancún?

cuban flag on a wall

Perhaps you have heard stories about people seeing the dancing lights across the water, displaying a lively city in another country. However, if you think you have seen an entirely different country from across the bay, you either have excellent eye-sight, or your eyes are playing tricks on you. 

Can you see Cuba from Cancún? It is highly unlikely that the naked eye can see Cuba from Cancún, with 140+ miles between Cancún and the tip of Cuba and 316+ miles between Cancún and Havana. 

If you have heard the myth of seeing the dancing lights of Cuba far off in the distance while standing on Cancún, you have been tricked. However, this guide will break down all of the transportation methods and hacks for getting the most out of these two getaway destinations! Just because you cannot see one from the other, does not mean that they’re not close enough to be simultaneously enjoyed. 

The Reasons You Cannot See Cuba From Cancún 

Not only is the distance between Cuba and Cancún too great for the naked eye to see one from the coast of another, but you are also combatting the curvature of the earth.

The main reasons you cannot see Cuba from Cancún are:

  • It is 143+ miles from coast to coast between the two.
  • Humans can see about 3-miles away on a clear and sunny day; however, they cannot see it in exceptional detail. For instance, you certainly wouldn’t notice a rabbit moving from 3-miles away, but you could easily see the foggy horizon in the distance.
  • The curvature of the earth is a significant factor here. The human eye could potentially see for dozens of miles – without the curvature of the earth. Since the world is round, it considerably hinders your viewing abilities. At a 5-mile distance, the earth would experience a curvature of about 16.67-feet. 
  • Don’t allow this to trick you into thinking that elevation is everything. Sadly, even if you were standing on the tallest building in Cancún, you still would not have the eye-strength to see 140+ miles. 

How to Get from Cancún to Cuba

You may assume that a ferry would be the most straightforward method for traveling between these two local countries. Unfortunately, there is no ferry service between these two countries. The roughly 100-mile distance between Cancún and Cuba may seem minuscule; however, it is too far for a ferry to travel on a single tank of gas. 

The only way to get from Cancún to Cuba is by air! Here’s what you need to know:

  • Interjet is a popular and affordable Spanish airline that offers several daily trips to Havana.
  • Your ticket will be roughly $100 one-way.
  • At the Mexican airport, you will need to get a tourist visa to visit Cuba. You can do this even if your plane tickets have already been purchased.
  • The visa will be around $15-$20 USD (300-350 pesos), and you can pay in cash. There will be a line for the visa nearby the airline you have selected to fly. You can also Apply Online with iVisa and have the option to pay $75-$95 for expedited shipping or rush order. 
  • You will then check-in for your flight as usual; however, you must show proof of your return flight or evidence for this being a round-trip. 
  • You will fill out a currency declaration form at the Mexican gate before you board your plane to Havana. You do not need to declare anything if you are carrying under $10,000 worth of goods.
  • Your flight will be about an hour. 

After Arriving in Cuba 

Once you have arrived in Havana (or wherever your desired Cuban destination is located), you will:

  1. Go through passport control. You may need to show evidence of health insurance or travel insurance at this point (a paper copy will work fine).
  2. Your passport will be stamped along with your tourist card.
  3. Pass through customs. There may be a customs form to fill out at this point or while you are standing in the baggage claim area. Since you are most likely on vacation, you will probably not have enough goods to declare anything to customs, which will spare you a painfully long line. 
  4. Now, you are officially in Cuba!

How to Exchange Currency 

You can exchange your currency at any:

  • Airport
  • Bank
  • Official Government Currency Exchange Houses (CADECA)

As well as most:

  • Hotels and resorts
  • Shopping centers

You will simply bring your currency to the representative at that establishment and let them know what currency you would like to exchange for. 

Important Currency Note – Cuba and Mexico both use pesos as their currency; however, they are distinct to their nation, and you cannot use Cuban pesos in Mexico or Mexican pesos in Cuba. 

Fun Things to Do in Cancún

While staying in Cancún, there are a plethora of fantastic activities that you and your travel group can enjoy! Just a few of the local favorites include:

  • The Cancún Underwater Museum – A once-in-a-lifetime experience to swim through 500 underwater sculptures. This museum is a diving experience that connects art to nature. 
  • The beach – Some of the best are:
    • Playa Caracol
    • Playa Langosta
    • Xcaret Park (eco-archaeological park and beach) 
    • Isla Contoy – A beach island known for its birds
    • Playa Tortugas
    • Xacel
    • Playa Delfines
  • Visit Chichen Itza – A UNESCO World Heritage site. This is an ancient Mayan city that dates back to the 15th century. 
  • Swim in a Cenote – With over 30,000 cenote oasis-pools in Cancún, these are crystal clear bodies of water, often hidden in a cave and tree-filled jungle. You can relax in the most serene cave swimming known to Mexico and combine this with your trip to Chichen Itza.
  • Ruins of Tulum – Tulum is only 81 miles from Cancún (about an hour and a half).
  • Enjoy the Nightlife – Cancún is a party-town, so enjoy it for what it is! Some of the best night clubs to check out are:
    • Coco Bongo
    • Cuncrawl
    • Cancún Vibes
    • Mandala Cancún
    • H Roof

Fun Things to Do Once You’ve Arrived in Cuba

Just to name a few ideas for your wanderlust adventures, the most popular activities in Cuba are:

  • Exploring Old Havana – Filled with unique architectures, beautiful colors, and enchanting smells.
  • Viñales Valley – A stunning valley near the mountains of Sierra de los Órganos.
  • El Malecón– A coastal city with an incredible seawall.
  • El Capitolio – A historical landmark and government building in the center of Havana. 
  • Take a Food Tour – Compare it to the flavors of Mexico! 
  • Museum of the Revolution – Located in Old Havana.
  • La Cabaña – An 18th-century fortress that is one of the largest in the Americas. 
  • Varadero beach – A paradise on earth. 
  • Try Cuban espresso – See what all the fuss is about!
  • Peninsula de Zapata National Park – If you need a taste of nature. 
  • Find the El Morro Castle – A 1590 castle worth exploring. Also, a beautiful place to begin your visit to Havana, located just along the coast. 
  • Enjoy a Tropicana Show – This is the cabaret of Cuba! Get a taste of the Cuban style for a post-dinner show. You can then dance the night away at a local club, using all of the Cuban dance moves you’ve just learned! 

Whether you are simply eye-balling Cuba from the coast of Cancún, (or you want to explore both destinations), the options are versatile and each worth experiencing. 

In Conclusion 

Sadly, you cannot see Cuba from Cancún. But that does not mean you cannot enjoy these destinations any less! In the scope of the entire world, 100-miles is incredibly nearby in proximity. If you are visiting one place, it is well worth considering a day-trip to the other!

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