When to go
The high season for visitors is Dec - Apr when the weather is usually sunny, mostly dry and not too humid, though there can be cool days. Hurricane and tropical storms are possible Aug - Nov and this is when most rain falls. Rainfall and cloud, attracted by the mountains, is more frequent here than in the areas to the east.
Getting local currency
You can use sterling cash to purchase Cuban Convertible Pesos at a couple of banks and money exchanges (cadecas
) in Viñales and Pinar del Rio but you might be better off getting them in advance in Havana. The rate of exchange for euros tends to be less favourable.
The more valuable convertible peso (CUC) has been reserved for use in the tourism sector and foreign trade. In October 2013, as part of a package of economic reforms its value will be gradually unified with the lower-value CUP, ending a system resented by ordinary Cubans.
GMT -5 hours; usually there is daylight saving in the summer but it is a moveable feast.
A journey by road from Havana to Pinar del Rio or Viñales (185 km) takes up to 2.5 hours.
Beach time on Cayo Levisa, a white sand beach-fringed island off the north coast with excellent diving and snorkelling.
Carnival: Viñales, March. 4 days in the middle of the month.
Beauty pageant: Viñales. Complete with parades and other festivities.