How to Volunteer in Cuba

Cuba is one of the largest islands in the world and has a population of around 11 million people but around 40% of the population live in inadequate conditions. Cuba is a very unique destination to volunteer abroad, this country has had a turbulent political past with a Revolution taking place in 1959.

Due to an economic embargo by the USA, the country suffers from a lack of investment and infrastructure resulting in high unemployment and widespread poverty. You will also get a very authentic experience as Cuba isn't as developed or touristy as other countries in the region, another benefit of choosing this destination is the warm tropical climate with sun almost all year round!

This is a less visited destination than others and it can be quite difficult to find volunteer opportunities but with our website you can find international and local organisations who offer placements.

Working in Cuba allows you to do more than just sit on a beach. Usually you will work around 6 hours per day and 5 days per week but this depends on the project. If you are short on time and would like to volunteer in Cuba for a day some local operators offer these types of experiences.

In your spare time you will get to relax or join an excursion visiting places like the Bay of Pigs, Trinidad, Bayamo and Veradero. A shared guesthouse is usually provided for participants but homestays are also available. You can stay legally with Cubans at private houses which is a unique experience. Local food is very tasty, expect healthy things like rice, vegetables and meat. 


Location of Projects

Most people volunteer in Havana but there are also more remote regions of the country, sometimes you will get to work in outreach teams going direct to communities in need in rural areas. Other places outside of Havana where you might get to help include:

  • Santiago de Cuba
  • Camagüey
  • Holguín
  • Guantánamo
  • Santa Clara
  • Arroyo Naranjo
  • Las Tunas
  • Bayamo
  • Pinar del Río

Where you are based though really depends on the project/organisation.


How You Can Help

There are government run local programs and also independent organisations who you can apply to, most people participate during summer but there are also year round placements in locations like Havana and more rural areas. Local volunteer brigades are based in Cuba who work with the government bringing foreign helpers into the country every year, these are structured trips with cultural excursions included. On the majority of placements you will work alongside local staff and experienced international volunteers. 


Community Volunteer Programs in Cuba

Most opportunities in Cuba have a focus on social work which has a lasting benefit to the communities, this can involve helping elderly, disabled and young people. Applying to join a building and construction program in Cuba can be very rewarding, you will get to work in groups helping build infrastructure for communities.


Medical Volunteer Placements in Cuba

There is free healthcare and social programs available to Cuban citizens and also education is free to all children in Cuba but a lot of local people need assistance. You might be surprised that Cuba has one of the most advanced healthcare systems on the planet but finding medical projects can be difficult.


Wildlife & Conservation Projects in Cuba

Cuba is located in a spectacular region of the world and has lots of Nationals Parks and beauty spots, there are lots of local organisations who work to protect nature and animal species. Due to increased numbers of tourists visiting every year this has a negative effect on local biodiversity and nature and you can join sustainable projects which aim to keep a healthy balance preserving the beautiful scenery around the island.


Requirements & How to Apply

You will need to check to see if you are applicable for a tourist visa - this is the most important thing to consider before applying. Some organisations will require you know Spanish, you might want to book a Spanish language course in Cuba. People from all over the world travel to Cuba with the aim of volunteering, no previous experience is needed to apply for most positions but you will need a positive, flexible and adaptable attitude. You might also need to pay for flights and a joining fee to participate - this usually includes food, accommodation and a donation to worthwhile local causes.

Please note Cuba is a very undeveloped country and living conditions might be a little rustic compared to what you are used to. If you learn Spanish this will be of great benefit, most of the population do not speak English so communication can be difficult. If you have specific skills like teaching experience this can help too, summer volunteer programs in Cuba are very popular so get your application in early for these positions.


Volunteer in Cuba for Americans

Are you a U.S. citizen wonderng if you can volunteer in Cuba and how to do it? The US and Cuba has a fractious relationship in recent decades and tourism has been restrictied but you might not realise that volunteering is one way you can legally enter Cuba as an American. It can be difficult though and if you are an American seeking a volunteer vacation in Cuba you might want to consider a different destination, gaining a visa can be really difficult (view our South America volunteer programs for alternatives). 


How to Apply

You can search our featured opportunities above. There is the option to apply solo and then join a program which are usually arranged in groups with participants from all over the world. You might also want to check out all of our volunteer programs in Central America.