When you are in Havana, you have several different types of taxis to choose from. Most tourists only get CUC as currency and miss out on one of the coolest experiences of being in Havana which taking a taxi colectivo.
What’s that? It’s a taxi where the ride can be shared by others and it is extremely cheap. I have heard some say that foreigners can’t use Cubans pesos but that wasn’t my experience at all. I used that currency often in the places it was allowed with no issues.
If you take a normal taxi (one that is officially recognized by the state) you will have to pay in CUC. From my apartment to the center of town it cost 5 CUC which isn’t bad. However, when I took the same taxi ride and used Cuban pesos I paid about .30 cents. Yep. THIRTY CENTS for all three of us (I was traveling with my mother and her nephew).
Why the difference? The currency and the taxi. Don’t get me wrong, the taxis that are all fixed up and amazingly beautiful are fun to ride in but those aren’t the ones that Cubans get around in on a daily basis. Cubans take colectivos and it’s a special kind of awesome to be riding around in an old American car that was made in the 40’s and still running. If you want an authentic Cuban experience I suggest taking one at least once or twice while you visit.
There is also an art to catching a colectivo. I kept seeing people with their hands out making different gestures and I didn’t know what that meant. I asked a taxi driver and he said the following:
” There is a way passengers communicate with drivers before they even get in the car. When they have their hands out they are telling me how many people that need a ride by the number of fingers they hold up and the direction they need to go. If they are pointing their hands one way I know they want to go to a different part of town. If they have their hand pointing straight I know they want to continue on the road we’re on. That way I can decide if they are going in the direction I want to go and if I have enough space.”
So when I wanted a taxi and I was alone I held up 1 finger and pointed straight cause I was going into town. That trip in a colectivo barely cost me 5 pesos. It takes 26 pesos to equal 1 CUC. Cheap, right?
More than likely the colectivo isn’t going to have air conditioning but a taxi may. But the fact that you can get around town so cheaply and safely is worth a little sweat, don’t you think?
The pics below are some of the taxi options you have in Havana. These all take CUC.
The colectivo are all of the older American cars that aren’t necessarily fixed up but are still beautiful.
We hopped in a taxi with another Cuban woman and she agreed to a selfie. We had a lovely conversation and she helped me navigate the city! These are the kinds of experiences you get when you take a colectivo. I was sweating cause it was all kinds of hot. But amazing!