This article covers the four (4) most important mobile applications to have on your phone when you visit Cuba.
Click here for a detailed explanation of how to get a mobile SIM card and phone number in Cuba.
The applications covered below are:
4 Most Important Mobile Apps
Without a VPN in Cuba you will not be able to access the Apple App Store or Google Play, Netflix or most other mobile applications as Cuba is under US sanctions.
If you do not arrive with a VPN pre-loaded onto your phone you will likely need to pay someone to put a VPN onto your phone.
A VPN can be loaded onto a phone in Cuba without paying for a service though it is quite challenging and it took this author 2-3hrs to work it out. Expect a high degree of difficulty to do it yourself in Cuba if you do not load one onto your phone before travelling to Cuba.
An article outlining the process for downloading a VPN in Cuba or any other blocked country can be found here.
You should also turn off all automatic software or app updates to avoid losing your VPN while in Cuba.
With that said, I’ve personally used NordVPN for 5 years both at home and while travelling through the Middle East including Iran, Eastern Europe and Latin America including Cuba and most recently, Argentina.
NordVPN worked flawlessly in Cuba and allowed me to access my bank accounts, the Apple App Store and even watch US Netflix while in Cuba because Cuban television programs are awful.
Unlike other VPN’s I can confirm NordVPN works both on wifi and the cuban mobile phone network. Some of my Cuba based foreign friends found that their VPN’s worked perfectly on wifi but would fail on the mobile phone network.
With NordVPN I had a strong, fast and secure connection on both wifi and cellular services in Cuba. And we are now using NordVPN to upload videos to Youtube from Cuba.
La Nave is Cuba’s answer to Uber Ride sharing. Uber will not work in Cuba and Cuba has zero Uber drivers.
In order to get around you can either flag down a marked taxi, ask your host or hotel to call you a taxi using WhatsApp or you can use La Nave. In all cases La Nave will be cheaper and more efficient.
With La Nave the price is displayed on the screen before you accept the ride, the location of the vehicles and the time to pickup is displayed and you can choose one of four (4) vehicle types.
The options are basic, comfort, basic XL and comfort XL. The prices will reflect the vehicle type and category with a standard ‘Basic’ vehicle choice being the cheapest option.
The ‘basics’ vary between soviet era Lada’s and the cool old cars Cuba is known for. I always select basic when using La Nave.
For a longer explanation of La Nave check out our article here.
If Bajanda is Cuba’s answer to Uber ride sharing, Mandao is Cuba’s answer to Uber Eats. Like conventional Uber, Uber Eats will not work in Cuba.
With the Mandao app you can order food, drinks or groceries from almost any restaurant or store in Cuba.
For those times when you’re using NordVPN to watch Netflix at home on your couch in Havana, Mandao is a lifesaver and allows you to order food from your favourite restaurant.
Maps.Me is exactly what it sounds like – a mobile map application.
Google maps is pretty much useless in Cuba. If you want decent street directions and want to be able to find places quickly and easily, maps.me should be your go to app.
Google would continually send us the wrong way down one way streets or would be completely missing streets altogether. Maps.Me doesn’t have that problem and gives the best directions of all the navigational aids I’ve used in Cuba.
Use Maps.Me for directions and Google or Apple Maps for looking at reviews of restaurants and other establishments.
Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?
I’ve made a Cuba Frequently Asked Questions Page (FAQ) available on this website. And I would strongly advise you to read it before travelling to Cuba.
My Cuba FAQ page will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Cuba. Cuba is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the Cuba FAQ Page here.