Tourist travel to Cuba to ease, but restrictions remain

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Many in the Bay Area have been working in Cuba and traveling to the country for years. New openness with the country will soon make that easier. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

There are many images of Cuba, some not always seen by tourists. In eastern Cuba, water and other resources are scarce.

"There's one well and people walk 5 or 6 kilometers to get water," said Nina Basker.

Basker and her husband, Felix Torres, who is a Cuban native, started the nonprofit, BACA, the Bay Area Cuba Alliance. They are helping bring clean water and energy to Cuba.

PHOTOS: President Obama and family visit Cuba

The group has already installed water filtration systems in several towns, called colonies. New openness between the U.S. and Cuba will make the job easier.

Basker says some new changes have already been implemented.

"We can send things and have a bank account and work with the people," said Basker, which before they couldn't do.

As for tourism, restrictions are easing.

RELATED: Obama's historic trip to Cuba rife with risk opportunity

"The announcement has been made to re-establish direct flights within a year," said Manny Kopstein with Cuba Travel Adventures Group in Tiburon.

You can fly through Mexico or Canada under certain criteria but sanctions and travel restrictions are still in place.

Charter flights are available for travel groups, but they sellout fast, so book in advance.

Group travel will allow you unrestricted access to much of Havana, including beaches, often reserved for locals.

Kopstein says Cuba is safe for tourists because crimes against tourists is punished severely.

RELATED: President Obama's trip to Cuba: What you need to know

Experts say don't expect your tablet or smart phone to work well in Cuba. Wi-Fi is spotty. And bring cash because U.S. credit cards are still not widely accepted.

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