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Cuba: cruise the legend!

Published on 01 february 2017 at 0h00

From Christopher Columbus to Ernest Hemingway, via the most famous pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries, the island of Cuba has always attracted sailors. From the end of the 50s and Castro’s revolution, it had become difficult, or even impossible, to cruise there. Over the last few years, the destination has opened up, with a few catamarans available for charter. Now’s the time to go cruising there!

LOGBOOK

For over 50 years, the island of Cuba remained turned in on itself, and almost cut off from the rest of the world. Even today, arriving at this island is still like a step back in time. Cuba has an antiquated feel, as well as some remarkable things to its credit and an incomparable diversity. From its towns with very varied architecture to its moving, grandiose history and culture, via its perfect anchorages, its underwater life and its famous lobsters, the beauty of its archipelagos bordered by white sand beaches and coral reefs, bathed in clear turquoise waters, everything in Cuba is worth the visit! But with the predicted end of the end of the American embargo and the death of Fidel Castro, the opening-up much-awaited by the Cubans is today really happening. There’s now a reliable nautical infrastructure, and around twenty marinas and nautical centers which welcome passing boats, while offering all the essential services for boaters. Today, the whole of the Cuban coastline and the surrounding islands are accessible and open to visitors, with the notable exception of the famous Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron), where Cuban exiles from Miami, supported by the United States, were heavily defeated during their 1961 attempt to land on the island, to try and overthrow Castro. At the time, the world was within a hair’s breadth of a third world war... Cuba, beyond the myths and colorful images we’ve seen, is first and foremost a wonderful island, with a dignified, proud and welcoming people, like nowhere else in the world. In Cuba welcome is not just a hollow word, it’s a real way of life, and you can be certain that, as long as you make an effort, you will have some genuine, sincere encounters which will remain engraved in your memory for ever... With five centuries of rich, eventful history, Cuba will delight you. Here every event is celebrated with dancing. The best tobaccos grow on the land, and the most famous of all cocktails was invented here. And what can we say about the music, which has everyone dancing, from salsa to the mambo, the rumba to the chachacha... In fact you’ll quickly realize that more than visiting Cuba, you will live Cuba. And by boat, it’s even better, because with 4,000 km of coastline, the island offers some of the best beaches in the world, from Varadero to Playa Santa Lucía, via Guardalavaca and a whole series of small islands (cayos), each more wonderful than the last. A cruising paradise. The unique opportunity to visit this magical island via roundabout routes... The charter companies are based in Cienfuegos, in the south-west of the island; a charming harbor town, with a nice marina. Cienfuegos is situated at the end of one of the most beautiful bays in the Caribbean, which has earned it the nickname ‘Pearl of the South’. A well-deserved title, as this town, which has kept an old-fashioned but charming colonial aspect, is very pleasant. From here, you can leave to discover not just one island, but a multitude of cayos and small islands – there are exactly 4,195 of them. Enough to spend some quality cruising time!

Destination Cuba

The flora and fauna in Cuba are incredible: expect numerous visits both in the anchorages and on the beaches!

TYPICAL ITINERARY

The charter companies present in Cuba are mainly in Cienfuegos, and offer two major cruising areas, according to the weather, the time you have available and of course what you want to see. By sailing west from Cienfuegos, you have the Los Canarreos archipelago and the Isla de la Juventud ahead of you. On the itinerary, 50 miles of islands and perfect anchorages. The charter company Ocean Evasion is really enthusiastic about ‘Cayo del Rosario and its incredible species of fish, Cayo Cantilles (inhabited by monkeys and numerous birds) and Cayo Campo, all renowned for the beauty of their white sand beaches, the splendor of their coral and the richness of their underwater life...’ In the Canarreos, don’t miss dropping the hook at Cayo Avalos, a beach bordered by coconut trees, worthy of a postcard, and one of the most beautiful in the area. And then there is also Cayo Rico, inhabited by iguanas, turtles and pelicans, whose green waters are just wonderful. Finally, 20 miles further west, you will discover the Isla de la Juventud, the biggest of the islands belonging to Cuba, and a former hideout for pirates, who found shelter there: the shallows surrounding the area being the best protection against the heavy galleons of the Spanish fleet. Today, these same shallows offer one of the best dive locations in the whole of the Caribbean... Those of you who don’t mind sailing a few miles should head towards the famous Jardines de la Reina. A destination which has to be earned, as it is situated almost three days’ sail east, leaving from the base at Cienfuegos. But here...600 large and small islands, all uninhabited, await you, protected by a coral reef. This is a protected natural area, and one of Fidel Castro’s favorite fishing spots... Imagine, then, the richness of the underwater life and the beauty of the scenery that await you! In this world-renowned dive spot, just below the surface you’ll encounter sharks, giant grouper, shoals of tarpon, and...crocodiles in the mangroves! Dream Yacht Charter has been based in Cienfuegos for a long time, and offers a full fleet of catamarans. Here are the itineraries the company offers, according to the length of your cruise, to enjoy this island and its countless riches to the full. But note that at the end, you’ll always find that your stay was too short, and you will have just one wish – to return... 

Destination Cuba

The famous lobsters are not just in the advertisements: they really exist!

PRACTICAL CUBA

  • Getting there: Numerous direct flights from the main European capitals, and soon even from the United States, with the predicted end of the American embargo...
  • Weather: Cuba benefits from a subtropical climate, with 330 days of sunshine per year. Two seasons dominate: the dry season (from November to May) and the wet season (from June to October). The temperature is relatively constant: an annual average of 25°C. You can sail here all the year round...but it is best to avoid the hurricane season!
  • Formalities: To enter Cuba as a tourist, you must be in possession of a valid passport and a visa known as the tourist card. This is a compulsory form for entering Cuba, to be bought (for around 25 euros) in the consulates. Note that this card is only valid for a month. If you wish to stay longer you must renew it locally. In addition, you must have a travel insurance policy with medical expenses coverage.
  • Official language: Spanish, tinted with an absolutely charming accent. English is understood almost everywhere.
  • Currency: The currency in use is the Peso Cubano Convertible (CUC). The Euro is accepted for day to day spending in hotels and in all the island’s major tourist areas. 1 Euro is worth around 1.03 CUC. For a long time, the US dollar was not accepted for exchange, and Visa and Mastercard were only accepted if they hadn’t been issued by an American bank. Since the end of the blockade, things have changed, but not necessarily as quickly as tourists would like...
  • Not to be missed: Jardines de la Reina, Cayo Largo, and the sumptuous town of Trinidad, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site...
  • The local charter companies: Dream Yacht Charter, The Moorings, Ocean Evasion, Voile Evasion…
7-day itinerary: Cayo Largo 

Day 1

Cienfuegos - Guano del Este

Day 2

Playa Sirena - Cayo Largo

Day 3

Cayo Largo - Ballanetos - Quinto Canal

Day 4

Quinto Canal - Cayo Rosario

Day 5

Cayo Rosario – Cayo Estopa - Cayo Rico

Day 6

Cayo Rico - Cayo Largo - Cayo Sal

Day 7

Cayo Sal – Cienfuegos
10-day itinerary: Jardines de la Reina 

Day 1

Cienfuegos

Day 2

Visit to Trinidad

Day 3

Marina Trinidad – Cayo Zaza de Afuera

Day 4

Cayo Zaza de Afuera - Cayo Breton

Day 5

Cayo Breton – Cayo Casimba - Punta de Boca Grande

Day 6

Punta de Boca Grande – Cayo Caballones

Day 7

Cayo Caballones – Cayo Cuervo

Day 8

Cayo Cuervo Canal - Boca Grande

Day 9

Boca Grande - Cayo Blanco de Casilda

Day 10

Return to the marina before 10 am.

Debriefing. Disembarkation at 12 am. 

14-day itinerary: Jardines de la Reina / Cayo Largo 

Day 1

Cienfuegos

Day 2

Visit to Trinidad

Day 3

Marina Trinidad – Cayo Zaza de Afuera

Day 4

Cayo Zaza de Afuera - Cayo Breton

Day 5

Cayo Breton – Cayo Casimba - Punta de Boca Grande

Day 6

Punta de Boca Grande – Cayo Caballones

Day 7

Cayo Caballones - Cayo Largo

Day 8

Cayo Largo (island visit)

Day 9

Cayo Largo – Playa Sirena

Day 10

Playa Sirena - Ballanetos - Quinto Canal

Day 11

Quinto Canal - Cayo Rosario

Day 12

Cayo Rosario – Cayo Estopa - Cayo Rico

Day 13

Cayo Rico - Cayo Largo - Cayo Sal

Day 14

Cayo Sal – Cienfuegos

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