Internet Access in Cuba

Internet Access in Cuba – Where to Find Cuban Wifi

It may be the first thing you question about travelling to Cuba.  Is there Internet in Cuba for tourists? Is there wifi in Cuba?   The good news is that there are at least 1095 public places you can get internet and wifi in Cuba in 2021.  The bad news – it’s still government run, it’s not free and there are a few hoops that you need to jump through to get online in Cuba.  This guide will explain all about Internet access in Cuba.  You can access the internet via terminals in ETECSA Cuba offices or you can more commonly get wifi in Cuba.  There is no such thing as the internet cafe in Cuba.

In this guide we’ll answer all the questions you have about internet access in Cuba

  • Can you get internet in Cuba?
  • Can you get wifi in Cuba?
  • Where to buy internet access in Cuba?
  • How to logon to wifi in Cuba
  • Do I need to logout of Cuba internet access?
  • Where are the wifi hotspots in Cuba?
  • Can I get mobile internet in Cuba?

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED AND AFFILIATE LINKS. MORE INFORMATION IN OUR DISCLAIMER

TLDR:  WiFi in Cuba

It’s available.  For a cost.  You can easily buy access to get on the Internet.  It’s not fast, you shouldn’t rely on it (but heck it was like that for us New Zealand too!).   You will find internet access points in most towns and cities in Cuba now.  You should make sure you get yourself a VPN before you get to the country – to protect your personal data and ensure you can access all the sites that you want to:

  • Don’t know what a VPN is?  Read more in our Common Sense Guide to find out how it helps you.
  • Get the best VPN  – that we’ve found – that works very well in China, Turkmenistan & Cuba.  This link gives you up to 49% off RRP as you’re a reader of ASocialNomad.

ETESCA Cuba

Internet access in Cubais provided by a Government owned telecommunications company called ETECSA   (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A).  ETECSA strictly controls where you can access the internet, although the number of locations is increasing quickly.

There are two types of service provided for Cuban internet access.  ETESCA provides for internet access ‘ temporary and permanent accounts.  Permanent accounts are only available to Cuban residents. However, you might end up using one (read on for more on this).  Temporary accounts are what the vast majority of Cubans and all tourists end up using.

Temporary Internet Access in Cuba for Tourists

A temporary internet account allows access to the internet through pre-paid non rechargeable cards.  You might hear these referred to as the Cuba Internet Card.  Cuba tourists need to use one to access the internet.  These are valid for 30 days from the first date of use. You do not have to use all the time purchased at one time.  This is the only legal way to get on the internet for tourists in Cuba.

Permanent Internet Access in Cuba

A permanent internet account isn’t really a permanent account, it’s an annual contract.  It gives access to SIGNIFICANTLY better rates for access than the temporary account.  However, that said, it won’t be available to you as a tourist unless you seek it out on the black market.  (see more below).

What’s the difference between ETECSA and NAUTA

You may hear others using the terms ETECSA and NAUTA interchangeably.  ETESCA is the company that provides Internet access in Cuba.  NAUTA is the name of both the permanent account and the temporary card that you buy to give you access to the Internet.

Where to Buy your NAUTA Cuba Internet Card

There are FOUR primary places to buy a NAUTA Cuba internet access card.

Buying Cuban internet in ETECSA Offices

This is where the Nauta internet cards will be the cheapest.  They will be the standard government listed price.  The Cuban Government listed prices are here. You will pay the same price in these offices as Cubans do.   There will always be a line to buy your cards here.  Mostly the line will be outside the office, as only a few people are allowed in at a time.   You WILL need your passport in order to buy the card.

Most ETECSA offices are open 7 days a week from 0830 until 1900, although there may be some differences as you move across the country.  You can find an up to date list of ETECSA offices locations on their website here.  There are several offices of ETESCA Havana and Varadero.  Note that while many ETECSA offices have PC’s where you can access the internet and many have wifi access at the office, not all of them do!  You can ask for a NAUTA internet access card, or NAUTA wifi card – it’s the same thing

We bought Nauta wifi cards from the ETECSA Varadero office and queued for 5 minutes.  Unfortunately they did not have wifi.  Varadero wifi spots included the Complejo Todo por Uno shopping mall.

Don’t forget to get the best VPN that we’ve found – that works very well in China, Turkmenistan & Cuba

Buying Cuban internet access in Hotels

Many hotels will sell you a NAUTA internet access card, simply ask the concierge.  You will NOT need your passport to buy a card.    The Hotel Seville sells NAUTA Cards. The hotel also has wifi access and their lounge is generally full of tourists accessing the internet.  The wifi here at the Hotel Sevilla can be accessed with ANY NAUTA card, not just one bought from the hotel itself.

Buying Cuba Wifi Access in ETESCA outlets

You’ll also find some ETECSA outlets, where customers can buy recharge for their mobile phones.  These places also sell NAUTA cards.  They will be more than the 25 CUP per hour, but usually not a great deal more.  

Buying a NAUTA Card onThe Black Market – i.e. buying a NAUTA card in the park

You’ll always be able to find someone willing to sell you a price marked up NAUTA card.  Cubans will go to the ETECSA store, buy their allowance of cards and then come to a wifi hotspot and look for tourists to sell them to.  It’s certainly simpler than finding an ETECSA store, and likely cheaper than the seriously marked up hotel prices.

You may also be able to buy Cuban internet access WITHOUT a NAUTA card.  This means accessing someone’s permanent account.  The cost differential between temporary internet access accounts and permanent internet access accounts is HUGE.  An hour of internet access with a temporary NAUTA card costs 25 CUP from an ETECSA office.  An hour of internet access with a permanent account costs 2.50 CUP to view local content.  It costs 17.50 CUP to view international content.   Yes.  You read that right.  So if you’re offered internet access at a public wifi spot and the “vendor” needs to input a user name and password into your device, then you’re accessing their permanent account.  They’re paying 17.50 for the hour they’ll sell you.  And you’re paying whatever you negotiate.

The choice is obviously yours as to where you buy from and whether you want cheap or quick.

What does a NAUTA Cuba Internet Access Card look like?

There are two types of cards sold.  The first and older type looks like this.  There is a scratch off on the reverse of the card which contains your user name and password.

Internet Access in Cuba NAUTA card (1)

The newer Cuban Internet access card is similar to the way in which you receive a new PIN number for your debit/credit card.    You rip open the card – carefully – and your username and password are on a separate slip inside.

Internet Access in Cuba NAUTA card (2)

Cost of Internet Access in Cuba

To get on the internet in Cuba you need to buy an ETECSA Cuba internet access card – the NAUTA card.  These cost

  • 30 minutes:  12.50 CUP
  • 1 hour : 25 CUP
  • 5 hours: 125 CUP

These are the prices from an ETECSA office.  Other locations, such as hotels, outlets and Cubans selling them on the black market will charge more.

Some hotels, especially in tourist areas will charge up to 10 times the cost of the ETECSA fee to get online.  In most hotels, you will be able to use the NAUTA card that you have purchased elsewhere.

Where to get Wifi & Internet Access in Cuba

As 2021, there are 1095 wifi hotspots to get Internet Access n Cuba.  In September 2016 there were 200 locations.   Some ETECSA offices also provide “internet terminals” where you can log on using your NAUTA card and access the internet.  You can find locations of these rooms here. Be very wary about inputting your personal details into these PCs.

The ETECSA navigation/surfing rooms that are in telepuntos and service centres are open seven days a week from 0830 until 1900.  Other surfing rooms may have different opening hours that are displayed locally.

Increasingly as Cuba gets online internet access is being provided in hotels (and some Casa Particulars – although these are few and far between).  If you’re looking for Havana hotels with wifi then the Hotel Seville is a good place to start.

Where are Cuban Wifi Hotspots?

  1. Airports – Havana, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Varadero now provide internet access
  2. Hotels and Resorts – you can find wifi in Havana or Varadero in higher end resorts and hotels.
  3. Parks
  4. At ETECSA offices/stores.

In some locations, you can sit in a café or a bar and access the Internet.  After you’ve squatted in a public park trying to get your email this feels incredibly civilised.   The further away from Havana and Varadero, we got the more pleasant the access got.

Great places to access the internet that we visited included

  • Matanzas Wifi Hotspot – Plaza La Vigia cafe in the square of the same name
  • Baracoa Wifi Hotspot– Cafeteria El Parque
  • Sancti Spitirus Wifi Hotspot – the Taverna Yayabo, overlooking the bridge of the same name and the river
  • Santiago de Cuba  Wifi Hotspot – Cerveceria Puerto Del Rey on the river

Where to get Internet Access in Cuba

The most accurate and up to date location to find details of where you can get Internet access in Cuba is the ETECSA website. 

When you’re in Cuba, we highly recommend that you take a full download of the Cuban maps on maps.me. They’re excellent for finding your way around and they do mark SOME wifi hotspots (simply search for WIFI and you’ll get a list of places). We found it about 70% accurate.

You will generally get wifi access at the main park in each town or city.

Read our NEW Common Sense Guide to VPNS here – or get a VPN with ExpressVPN

How to get Wifi in Cuba.  Getting Online.

Getting online is simple

The screens are available in English and Spanish.

  1. Turn on Wifi on your device.
  2. Connect to the ETECSA wifi network, this will force open a browser window on your device and direct you to the login screen.
  3. If it does not then you can open a browser and attempt to search for anything, it will force a redirect to the above page.
  4. Input the username and then password from your NAUTA card.

Note that as soon as you logon, your one hour access starts counting down.  Your card is valid for 30 days from the first use.   When you disconnect the clock stops.  It only starts again when you log on again.

Each time you logon on the browser window will advise you as to how many minutes you have remaining on your card.

Using ETECSA.  Logout. 1.1.1.1. Logout

There is now no requirement (there hasn’t been since 2017 onwards) from ETECSA to logout.  Simply shut down your ETESCA wifi connection.  (It will save your battery anyways)  The clock will stop.  You will read many articles suggesting that you type in 1.1.1.1 to logout Etecsa into your browser window and then press the logout button.  If this is only in Spanish, then it will say CERRAR.  (close).  ETECSA’s own advice on their website also says, JUST DISCONNECT FROM THE WIFI SIGNAL.

We did NOT have to logout at all during our Cuban travels, and we tested it several times.  We simply disconnected and had no problems.  The time remained the same on our cards.

Internet Speed in Cuba

We found Cuban wifi signal strength to be reasonably good in all locations.  We found internet speed in Cuba variable in different locations and also different times of the day.  Sometimes we were online and it disconnected and we could not reconnect.  Other times we simply could not connect.

We were able to use Skype.  Especially in Santa Clara, we saw many Cubans using Skype for voice communications and some video communications.

ETECSA says that each location, depending on the size of the connection should allow 50 consecutive users for smaller locations and 100 consecutive users for the larger locations.  It gives no details as to which locations are large and which are small.

The speed of connection in ETECSA offices, where you access via a cabled connection using one of their PC’s is up to 2MBps.  We found the connections over wifi in all locations to be slow but steady.

Security on the Internet in Cuba

On some occasions, we could NOT access sites with HTTPS enabled.  On other occasions, we could.  We were able to utilise our VPN > read more here about why you should use a VPN on public wifi networks.  The internet service is provided by a government organisation in Cuba.  I preferred that my content was not visible to them.  I would always use a VPN in Cuba.

Tips for Internet Usage in Cuba

Before you Arrive in Cuba…

  1. Don’t rely on getting internet service in Cuba.  Al sorts of things could go wrong.
  2. Prior to arrival in Cuba do all your research. Download Maps.Me and Cuban maps.
  3. If you use Tripadvisor, get the offline version of Havana.
  4. Print the list of locations where wifi is available if you know you’re going to need to connect – as a reminder you can download it from our subscriber content page.
  5. Get a VPN before you arrive in Cuba -Read our NEW Common Sense Guide to VPNS here – or get a VPN from ExpressVPN

Wifi Access in Cuba

  1. Make a list of what you need to do online.  Be ruthless
  2. If you need to send information, then draft the information in a notes app, ready to cut and paste it into the relevant application.
  3. Immediately on connecting, set off the download for your email/documents you might need.
  4. DISCONNECT
  5. Read what you need to read offline, draft replies in a notes app.
  6. Log back on. Copy and paste your responses.

The Internet in Cuba isn’t as bad as you think it’s going to be.  So long as you go in with the attitude that it’s going to be bad.  (she writes shrugging sitting here now with good, fast internet access).  You just need to plan ahead.  And assume that you won’t have any access at all, but we hope we’ve managed to outline the how, where and when of internet access in Cuba.

Internet Access & WiFi in Cuba Resources:

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