Cuba - Profile
- With improvements in relations between the USA and Cuba, numbers of visiting yachts have increased greatly. With this prices have risen (but standard of facilities remain the same) and the popular anchorages on the south coast of Cuba are no longer empty.
- Yachts may now only clear in at a port of entry that also has a marina facility.
- In any northern Cuban marina other than Marina Darsena in Varadero, a berth is usually available upon arrival, space permitting. However the heightened interest and relaxed travel rules may change that situation.
On the south coast the marinas are smaller and busier, so it is not uncommon to have a waiting list for berths. This is particularly true in Marina Jagua Cienfuegos and Marina Cayo Blanco in Trinidad, where there are large charter boat operations.
- Yachts can anchor out for $.20/ft per day.
- Whilst the cruising area is vast, there are restrictions on where you can go. All the small bays on the north coast are closed to yachts and throughout the country it is only possible to go ashore at designated ports where there is a marina or tourist facility. It is still possible however to anchor in remote areas where there are no settlements. The few designated stops are: Puerto Vita, Cayo Coco, Varadero, Marina Hemingway, Cayo Levisa, Marina Cabo San Antonio, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, and Santiago.
- US yachts are not forbidden from cruising in Cuba, but if they do not obtain a licence from the US Treasury Department and permission from the US Coast Guard, they may experience difficulties when returning to the USA (see further details under USA Clearance). This situation may change now that relations between the two countries are improving.
- Whilst it is perfectly legal for foreign yachts to go directly from Cuba to the USA, if clearing in at Key West it is possible you will experience problems on arrival where immigration officials are said to be "difficult", (reports have been received of cruising permits being denied or taken away). See USA Clearance for further details.
- Cubans are still restricted to only being allowed to own small boats, so there are very few locally owned sailing boats. Repair facilities are limited, but engine and mechanical repairs well understood. It is advisable to be independent if cruising here and bring all marine supplies with you.
- The US still maintains a military base at Guantanamo Bay on the SE extremity of the island. This port should only be entered in an absolute emergency.
- Although not officially permitted, gifts of clothes, shoes, eye glasses or household items are very welcome by the Cuban people.
- Recent changes mean that Cubans are now free to travel within their own country, however the cost of transportation for most remains high. On the positive side, any Cuban who has a car is now permitted to drive it as a private taxi.
Based on reports to Noonsite from cruisers, petty theft from yachts is on the rise in the Caribbean in general. Sadly, this also now relates to Cuba as more cruising boats are visiting and opportunist theft is targeted at yachts.
Local advice is to be extremely vigilant when anchoring near populated areas. Cruisers should take basic safety precautions and use common sense when leaving the boat or going ashore at night. Be sure to conceal below any loose deck items and follow the cruisers' mantra of "lock it or lose it". Dinghy & ouboard thieves operate throughout the Caribbean and best advice is to place your dinghy on deck and chain it overnight.
In June 2016 a yacht anchored at Isla de la Juventud reported deck gear (cockpit cushions, sunglasses, dock lines, life sling etc.) stolen overnight.
Dinghy and outboard theft (both locked to the yacht) was reported from Cienfuegos in May 2016 (see report adjacent).
The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (firstname.lastname@example.org) provides information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behaviour and precautions wherever they decide to go. Should you have suffered a boarding, robbery or attack on your yacht or have information about a yachting-related security incident, go to the CSSN homepage and click on the "Report an Incident" icon. The associated form is quick and simple to complete and ensures that all the necessary details are reported. The CSSN is the most comprehensive source of Caribbean security incidents against sailors. Remember, it is every cruiser's responsibility to ensure that incidents are reported. Also cruisers can subscribe to e-mail alerts and follow on facebook and twitter.
The Caribbean Security Index (CSI) is a a tool to assist cruisers in assessing the probability of crime at ports and anchorages throughout the Caribbean. The CSI provides a means of assessing risk in a given area.
Also be sure to check the noonsite Piracy & Safety Pages
Last updated June 2016.
The climate is subtropical with November to April, the cooler dry season, being the most pleasant. The rest of the year is often humid, rainy and very hot and the hurricane season is from June to November.
Instituto de Meteorologia de la Republica de Cuba (in Spanish)
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page