I recently returned from a two week visit to Cuba. This was my second visit to cuba, my first being four years ago. With the introduction of the new Cuban currency a few years ago Cuba is no longer a viable economic vacation spot for Americans. Since the introduction of the CUC, american visitors have fallen from 160,000 a year to about 60,000 a year. To answer a few questions I see floating about,
Yes, american currency is accepted in Cuba. It will be discounted by 20%. Anyone will accept american currency, even cab drivers. But they will always discount it by 20%. The dollar is longer king of the hill in Cuba.
The best place to exchange money would be at the airport or at any bank. Even most hotels will give you a good rate. Some of the larger hotels have rates that are not very good.
It is not really worth changing american dollars into another currency before arriving in Cuba and then changing it again into CUC's. The amount saved if any is minimal.
The best way for an American traveling to Cuba to save money would be to prepay for as much as possible in american dollars before arriving in Cuba. This can be done by going thru a Canadian travel agency. Prepay for all hotels and intra country air travel beforehand.
Finally. Yes, go to Cuba. It is indeed a great country to experience.