Visit Cuba, and you’ll experience sun, sand, beach, and…oh yeah, mosquitoes and sand fleas.
Although Cuba is generally a safe country to visit, mosquitoes in Cuba still represent a health hazard for travelers. Cuba’s year-round heat and humidity, the poor infrastructure and waste management practices, and the Government’s lack of access to newer mosquito control tools all contribute to frequent mosquito-borne disease outbreaks.
If you’re planning a trip to Cuba, you probably wonder whether mosquitoes or sand fleas in Cuba may ruin your vacation. That’s a legit question that we thoroughly answer in this article. We put together a handy guide to help you stay safe from mosquitoes and sand fleas.
- How Bad Are Mosquitoes in Cuba?
- Mosquito Season in Cuba: The Worst Time for Mosquitoes in Cuba
- Diseases You Can Get From Mosquitoes in Cuba
- How to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Cuba
- Bring mosquito repellent
- Consider using natural mosquito repellents
- Bring electric mosquito coils
- Spray permethrin on clothing and gear
- If you do wild camping, sleep in a mosquito bed
- Stay indoors during dusk and dawn
- If you go out during peak times, wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
- Close all doors and windows when going to bed
- Treat the symptoms if you get bit
- Sand Fleas in Cuba: How to Avoid Them
- Staying Bug-Bite Free in Cuba
How Bad Are Mosquitoes in Cuba?
Mosquito bites may be pretty bad in Cuba. But how many mosquitoes you encounter depends on when you travel to Cuba and what parts of Cuba you visit.
Although the government has stepped up its efforts to fight mosquitoes in Cuba recently, mosquito-borne illness outbreaks are still common.
As a visitor, mosquitoes and sand fleas can also be especially annoying in Cuban resorts!
Mosquito Season in Cuba: The Worst Time for Mosquitoes in Cuba
Cuba is home to a year-round mosquito community, but mosquitoes worsen during the rainy season. The wet season in Cuba runs from May to October when the island gets most of its annual rainfall. Since mosquitoes love damp weather, you’ll see way more of them during the wet season.
Diseases You Can Get From Mosquitoes in Cuba
Itchy, annoying bumps aren’t the only thing that mosquitoes leave behind. They’re also vectors for some serious blood-borne diseases. While these diseases aren’t unique to Cuba, you should be aware of them and their symptoms if you get sick while traveling.
Zika in Cuba
There’s no doubt that Zika is a scary virus. Still, there’s some good news for travelers to Cuba. Although sporadic cases of Zika pop up, there is no evidence of a current Zika outbreak in Cuba. The last reported case was way back in December 2018.
Dengue Virus in Cuba
The risk of catching the Dengue Virus in Cuba is much higher than catching Zika. Cuba experiences yearly outbreaks of Dengue, so we recommend taking precautions against mosquito bites.
But don’t lose it! Later in this article, we discuss all you can do to prevent mosquito bites in Cuba without ruining your vacations.
Chikungunya Virus in Cuba
While there’s never been a Chikungunya outbreak in Cuba, isolated cases occasionally crop up, so we recommend taking precautions.
Symptoms of Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Since you’re traveling to Cuba, it’s smart to be aware of the symptoms of common mosquito-borne illnesses. That said, remember that most mosquito bites in Cuba won’t lead to a virus.
Zika virus symptoms: Symptoms of Zika are usually fairly mild and last about a week. Fever, joint pain, red eyes, and rash are all common symptoms. Some people also experience fatigue, appetite loss, headache, and vomiting.
Dengue virus symptoms: Symptoms of Dengue vary a lot. Some people are asymptomatic (no symptoms), while others experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, body aches, and rash.
Chikungunya virus symptoms: If you get bit by a Chikungunya-carrying mosquito, you’ll start noticing symptoms within a week of getting bit. Symptoms include sudden joint aches followed by fever, fatigue, and headache.
Dengue and Chikungunya are both dangerous viruses! If you suspect you contracted one, we recommend seeking medical treatment immediately. Take advantage of your travel insurance for Cuba and let the country’s doctors help you recover!
How to Avoid Mosquito Bites in Cuba
Fun fact about Cuba: 100% of travelers to Cuba want to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes – just kidding, that’s not an official statistic, but I think we can agree that nobody enjoys getting bit!
Luckily, there are a few strategies you can take advantage of to keep mosquitoes away during your trip.
Bring mosquito repellent
Bug spray should be your weapon of choice when protecting yourself from mosquitoes. We recommend carrying a can of DEET repellent with you at all times.
Apply a generous amount of mosquito repellent to your skin and clothing before you head outside, and be sure to re-apply it a few times throughout the day. Consult the EPA guide to using insect repellents safely for more tips.
Consider using natural mosquito repellents
If you’re not a fan of chemical-based repellents, you can choose an eco-friendly alternative. We recommend using a lemon eucalyptus insect repellent since lemon eucalyptus oil is an effective natural insect repellent. Choose a high-concentration variety for long-lasting results.
Bring electric mosquito coils
A mosquito coil is a portable device that attracts mosquitoes and zaps them to death.
When mosquito repellent alone isn’t enough to keep the critters at bay, you may want to add a mosquito coil to your arsenal. If you plan to venture away from the coast and into the muggy countryside, a mosquito coil should be on your list of things to bring to Cuba.
Spray permethrin on clothing and gear
You can supplement your DEET or eucalyptus oil with a permethrin insect repellent. This is a powerful synthetic repellent, so avoid contact with the skin and use it on your clothing or gear.
If you do wild camping, sleep in a mosquito bed
Wild camping in Cuba is an unforgettable way to experience the island but prepare for a shocking amount of mosquitoes in Cuba’s rugged countryside. A nighttime mosquito net is an absolute must.
Stay indoors during dusk and dawn
Mosquitoes are most active at sunrise and sunset. If it’s feasible, stay indoors until the sun has fully risen or gone before heading out.
If you go out during peak times, wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
Despite your best efforts, there may be times when you have to venture out during peak mosquito hours. The best way to protect yourself is by covering up with long sleeves, pants, and shoes instead of sandals.
Close all doors and windows when going to bed
You might be tempted to leave your windows open at night to soak up the cool, breezy Cuban nights. Unfortunately, doing this means you’ll probably wake up with unwanted guests in your room: mosquitoes! Close your doors and windows before you go to sleep to keep the bugs outside where they belong.
Treat the symptoms if you get bit
Even if you take every precaution, you’ll probably still end up with a couple of mosquito bites. When that happens, you can soothe the symptoms with Tylenol and Hydrocortisone Cream. Don’t take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)! If you come down with Dengue fever, aspirin can worsen your symptoms.
Sand Fleas in Cuba: How to Avoid Them
Mosquitoes aren’t the only pesky insect to watch out for in Cuba. There are also sand fleas! True to their name, sand fleas thrive on Cuba’s sandy, warm-weather beaches. Avoiding sand fleas and their itchy bites means following a few golden rules while on the beach.
Go to the beach at mid-day
Sand fleas are most active during the cooler times of the day, like early morning and twilight. You have the best odds of avoiding sand fleas by hitting the beach midday or after sundown.
Don’t sit directly on the sand
Putting a beach blanket between yourself and the sand is an easy way to keep sand fleas away. Since sand fleas are mixed in with the sand itself, sand-proof beach blankets are best at keeping fleas away.
Cover your arms and legs whenever possible
The more barriers you have between your skin and the sand, the better protected you’ll be from sand fleas. Using a sand-proof beach blanket is a great start, but you can go further by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants on the beach. A long-sleeved swim shirt or rash guard is perfect for beach-goers.
Stay off the beach after the rain
Rain drives sand fleas out of the sand and onto any climbable surfaces, including people! Avoid the beaches for a few hours after it rains to allow the sand to dry out and the fleas to return home. This is especially important if you’re visiting during Cuba’s rainy season.
Don’t scratch the itches
Like mosquito bites, sand flea bites are itchy. If you get bit by a sand flea, you will have a powerful urge to scratch the itch. Don’t do it! Scratching sand flea bites makes the itch worse and takes longer to heal.
Instead of scratching, lather on some soothing aloe vera gel. It’s the only way to soothe the burn without making it worse.
Staying Bug-Bite Free in Cuba
Do you feel better about avoiding mosquitoes and sand fleas in Cuba? While there’s no way to avoid all mosquitoes in Cuba, the tips explored in this article should help you avoid most bug bites in Cuba.
Do you have any experience with bugs in Cuba? Let us know in the comments!
Essential Travel Logistics For Cuba
Cuban Tourist Card – If your Cuban Tourist Card (a.k.a Cuban Tourist Visa) isn’t bundled into your airline ticket or travel package, buy it only through EasyTouristCard.
Travel Health Insurance – Travel medical insurance is an entry requirement for Cuba, so you can’t skip it. Travelers can get travel health insurance for Cuba via Insubuy. Travel protection benefits such as trip interruption and cancellation, baggage delay insurance, etc., are not required.
Essential Items to Pack – Bring the essential travel necessities that you may not be able to get in Cuba:
- First aid kit
- Hand sanitizer
- Face masks
- Water bottle with filter
- Mosquito repellent
- Pin adapter (for Europeans)
- Travel guide
- Spanish-English phrasebook
- Suggested Reading: The Cubans: Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times
Read our complete packing list for Cuba.
Find Accommodations – Find hotels or casas particulares (private accommodations) on Skyscanner, which lists thousands of accommodations available in Cuba.
Book Your Flight – Book cheap flights to Cuba on Skyscanner, our favorite flight search engine to find deals on flights to Cuba.
I had to have 30 bites on my legs feet and arms after 2 days, and some are still itchy 12 days later. My wife had none and we were together all the time. The Air Transat employee said that some people are particularly attractive to them. He suggested gin & tonic as a repellent. I didn’t try it because the resort was short on gin.
For this reason alone, I will not go back to Cuba. Never had this issue in Mexico, Bahamas, Dominican. etc.
Just came back from Cayo Coco (August 2022). I have a nasty case of sand flea bites all over my body. Legs, arms, back. The itch is unbearable. I used deet containing bug repellant but it did not prevent the bites. The lesions from the bites did not come out until a few days after so it was hard to identify what caused it. I thought it was bed bugs at first but our room and bed was clean. In hindsight, we should’ve hung out at the pool. But the beach was so beautiful that we foolishly just stayed there “surviving the bites” until it got too hot for the fleas midday. I’ve never experienced sand fleas before and I’ve been to many beaches. Wish that something could be done about it because as much as I loved the resort and Cayo Coco, I don’t think I’d go back.
Years ago on a boat trip in Belize I learned that the fleas bite bad in the evening and we covered our legs with baby oil in the evening and went to the beach and ate at outside restaurants and I was not bothered by the sand fleas. First time ever😳😜
Just came back from Cuba may 14 to may20 2022 and lots of bites from mosquito and I think sand fleas very annoying I don’t think bug repellent helped .
I have traveled to Cuba many times and have been literally attacked by sand fleas constantly to the point where the itching was unbearable. At the time I wasn’t prepared to deal with it as I had no repellent or after bite. I finally asked one of the hotel workers what I could do to stop the itching. His reply shocked me, he said senior you must take rum. I was rather upset at his answer and said am I supposed to get drunk to stop the itching? He said no senior, put the rum on the bite’s. Well to my surprise it worked, the alcohol seems to temporarily stop the itching. After traveling to several Caribbean islands Cuba is the only place where I have trouble with insect bites. I now go with bug spray and wear long pants in the evening. Good luck
I didn’t experienced any send fleas in Varadero Paradisus Cuba.
I was few times early morning on the beach and we had two night parties and evening show.
But I was “attacked to the bone” by fleas in Dominican Republic in Puerto Plata🤦🏼😩
I enjoyed reading your tips. I am a bug magnet and I can be eaten by mosquitoes while my husband doesn’t have one near him! One year in Cayo Coco I had a nasty case of sand flea bites and the one thing that worked for me was lathering on coconut oil. It gave relief from the itching. Worth a thought for your readers.
Thank you for the tips. We are headed to Cuba for the first time in April. I have not had a twinrix shot and I worry a little about this. We have been to Jamaica twice and no shots were needed to go there. We were planning to go back again this year and then decided to try Cuba. Now, I don’t think I can get the shot. Do you happen to have any tips to share as to what I need to avoid. Thank you
I was told to not touch raw veggies and fruits. My all reason to go to tropics is only warm water in ocean and fresh fruits🤦🏼
But Cuba is Cuba.
I was only eating hot and cooked food. Lots of fried fish, shrimps, fries, pasta, rice with meat and cooked veggies, coffee, wine, booze🤣
I didn’t touch cakes or ice cream.
For delicious food I go to Cozumel Mexico 😋
Oh and I washed my teeth with Mouthwash instead of water.