Is Uber finally in Cuba?

No, but with its own twist of Cubaneo, “SUBE” is. With the arrival of 3g technology and a group of millennials who’s office is a WiFi Park, Sube Cuba is officially the country’s first ride sharing app! 

And to that I say: Hallelujah! 

The app came just in time. The Transportation Issue.

New constitutional provisions that prohibited many private taxis to operate was introduced around the same time mobile data was announced to the public.  

But before these changes were happening, the group of 4 20-something’s were already trying to solve an endless problem Cubans are confronted with everyday: transportation. 

That problem has been a major issue in this county for decades. The combination of the US embargo alongside domestic economic and political issues has damaged public transportation and the buy and sell of vehicles. 

This is especially true in Havana, Cuba’s capital.  With a population of 2 million people, the bus system is minimal and leaves many riders jam packed (unsafely I might add) in busses. 

Now with the new constitution crusading against unlicensed (untaxed) private taxi drivers, the problem got exponentially worse. 

Before, Many Cubans use “colectivos” as an option of public transportation. These private cars pick people up on a certain route and drop them off for a set price (usually around 10 pesos cubanos or 50 cents cuc per person).

Now after the provision, taxi drivers are required to have a license from the state, pay monthly taxes, forced to buy a quota of state gasoline (previously bought more frequently on the black market), and mandated to lower the prices of their services at the same time. 

So it’s only natural to know what comes next: very little taxis. 

That’s where Sube comes in. Before the announcement of mobile data, the group was already implementing the app via email service. But once the mobile data services were announced, it changed the entire game. 

How SUBE is Changing the Game

With Sube, Cubans and tourists can now upload the app and ask for direct taxis. Drivers have the option to charge their prices and accept rides. 

It works similar to Uber though not as advanced. There’s no “uber pool” or options of cars. 

But it resolves many issues people face on the island. Now with just an app you can have your ride waiting for you without standing on the corner forever. 

The app is completely free to download and use for both the rider and the taxi. 

Uber in Cuba: Sube Cuban app
Sube Cuba platform

An App with 0 Funding

The founders, Claudia, Darien, Damian,  and Luis Alberto sit in the WiFi Park everyday coding and designing the app. They have yet to monetize the app (a very legally tricky thing to in Cuba) so they make absolutely no money off creating the app. 

As of now they are just trying to perfect the app so it works perfectly and get the word out. They have about 3,000 users and the number is rising everyday. 

Claudia hopes that the app “resolves both Cuban problems and tourists problems.

Tourist App

Many times as a tourist you don’t know how much transportation is and you get ripped off just because you’re a tourist”. With the app, the price is confirmed before hand without the driver knowing country of origin a rider is from. 

Transportation is already tricky for tourist. But with Sube this makes it even better!

The app is only available through Android but they are quickly working on releasing it for iPhone. 

Just another amazing story of Cuban strength despite the technological and financial challenges. 

While many news publications will compare Sube to Uber, perhaps Uber might learn something from a group of four techies in a country where tech is far from modern. 

You can download Sube here and check out their Instagram and Website

Coming to Cuba as an American (or from an American city) under the Support the Cuban people visa category and wondering what the “f” does that mean? Don’t worry, I got you.

As you might already know, visiting Cuba is completely LEGAL under this visa category.  While in Cuba, you’ll quickly discover no undercover American patrol unit is following you around making sure you’re behaving and not drinking the communist kool-aid.

But, legally speaking, what does “Support the Cuban People” actually mean? Well according to the law, Americans are required to participate in activities that support independent institutions.

The Office of Foreign Asset Control, the US department that regulates these laws, gives Americans some examples: “Staying at a casa particular” or “eating at a paladar (restaurant)” are some of the things Americans can do.

They go on to state that you’ll need to provide a full-day itinerary of activities that support the Cuban people on the VERY EXTREMELY RARE chance they question you.

Need not fear, my American dears! Here’s a list of suggested activities Americans can do that also do something pretty cool…. actually, support the Cuban people.

Hey, if you’re in Cuba you might as well give back to the many thousands of entrepreneurs, local taxi drivers, and everyday hustlers trying to make a life on an island that’s experiencing a pretty hard economic situation.

 

  1. Take a Day Tour of Havana!

    • You can take a tour of the beautiful Old Havana with a local guide (me hehe) that takes you through the many historical parts of the city and gives you a local perspective of how many Cubans live.
    • If interested in this tour, shoot me an email!

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

      • Walk the streets of Habana Vieja with a local who gives you a different perspective

 

  1. Ride an American Classic Convertible

    • What is Cuba without the classic American cars? You can ride one as well around the city and its COMPLETELY LEGAL! The classic cars are owned by private citizens and help support the local economy.  Yes, its super touristy but it’s an absolute must DO!
    • 10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

      Whitney Riding The Malecon!

  1. Learn how to make Cuban food and eat some!

    • You can just eat at a local restaurant, but why don’t you learn how to make a Cuban dish prepared by a local chef!? That why you are taking an “educational class” and filling your belly at the same time! Plus you’ll learn how restaurants in socialist Cuba are adjusting to the everyday struggles of getting more supplies, the right amounts of food, and searching how to make their new client bases happy.. tourists!
    • Want 10% off every reservation for this experience? Click here and book with jLeL-o7wr code to ALAMESA, a Cuban app that cultivates these experiences and more

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

A typical Cuban meal: Rice, Beans, Meat and Veggies

  1. Drink cocktails with a Cuban mixologist

    • Learn how to make the classic Cuba Libre, Daiquairi, and Mojitos with a mixologist! Our friends at Jibarao in Old Havana are trained doctors of Nuclear Physics turned restaurant owners so they know how to mix REALLY well.
    • Want 10% off every reservation for this experience? Click here and book with jLeL-o7wr code to ALAMESA, a Cuban app that cultivates these experiences and more

    • 10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

      Learning how to Make Cocktails at Jibarao with our friends from New York!

 

  1. Smoke some Cubans in the Heart of Tobacco Country

    • Cuban cigars are infamous all over the world. I mean, if you’re coming to Cuba and NOT smoking a Cuban cigar, what are you even doing here?
    • Pinar del Rio, Cuba Is famous for growing Cuba’s best cigars and in the heart of the region stands Vinales, a small farming town. We take you there to meet our family friends who own a tobacco farm. Leo, Domingo, and Mingo will show you how to roll a cigar, educate you on how tobacco is run, and show you around our beautiful land!
    • Take this experience with me on my Vinales/Pinar del Rio tour!
    • 10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

      See a Tobacco House where they grow the tobacco for the famous Cuban Cigar!

 

  1. Have dinner in the Cuban countryside

    • Homemade Cuban dinner in the countryside is the epitome of heaven. Seriously….we aren’t joking. Cuba has 100% organic food, but it taste even better prepared by guajiros (Cuba’s countryside people) and farm fresh.
    • Get an intimate view on how most Cubans live outside of tourism in the countryside with my FAMILY! <3
    • Take this experience with me on my Vinales/Pinar del Rio tour

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

My beautiful Norwegian friends escaping the cold winters and eating at our families home in Pinar del Rio!

  1. Stay at a Casa Particular

    • Mentioned above, but Casa particulares (“private homes”) are a great way to support the Cuban people. Since the liberalization of small businesses, the island has boomed with casa particulares tourist can rent.
    • Tip: In many cases, casa particulares are much nicer than hotels run by government conglomerates. They pay special attention to their clients and cleanliness is a priority.
    • Interested in staying in a Casa particular in Cuba? Email me here!

 

  1. Learn how to Dance Salsa with a Salsero!

    • If its not the rum, the cigars, or the cars that bring you to Cuba, you need to add DANCING SALSA to that itinerary.. NOW! Cuban music is recognizable all over the world and salsa dance is something every tourist should experience!
    • Learn how to dance salsa with a professional. Honestly, I cant even dance that well and he taught me SO much in less than an hour!
    • Get your rumba on, here!
    • 10 Activities that Support the Cuban People

      Alyssa and Megan getting their rumba on with our friend Carlos!

 

  1. Explore Cuba’s Nature

  • Cuba is a gigantic island with many parts still left unconstructed and untouched. See the lush tropics and almost Jurassic park-ish feeling the island has.
  • Whether its waterfalls in Artemisa (1 hour outside Havana) and in Cienfuegos or cascading rivers in Trinidad, Cuba has something to offer everyone
  • Click here for more information on Cuba’s nature!

10 Activities that Support the Cuban People!

Me walking through the countryside!

 

  1. Go to the Beach

    • Now this one might seem that it isn’t part of “activities Supporting the Cuban people” but who says!? You can hire a private driver that can take you there, eat at a local restaurant, and go to a local beach!
    • There are beautiful beaches near Havana and all around the island.. you can take a tour there with us or stay at a casa particular if far that supports the Cuban people with some pretty amazing views!