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By No owner — last modified May 16, 2016 11:52 AM

 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. Cruisers should take basic safety precautions and use common sense when leaving the boat or going ashore at night. Dinghy thieves operate throughout the Caribbean and best advice is to place your dinghy on deck and chain it overnight.

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net ( 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, follow on facebook and twitter and listen to the SSB Voice Service.

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 October 2015.


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

Main Ports

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 16, 2016 11:52 AM

Cuba Dockage Costs - from Sailing & Cruising Cuba Facebook Page:
As expected, dockage all along the north coast is going up, even at Marina Darsena in Varadero. For boats from 30 - 44 feet it's .70 CUC per foot per day, 44 - 70 is $1CUC per foot per day, from 74 to 89 feet it's $1.80 CUC per foot per day and for greater than 89 feet it's $2.50 CUC daily.
The balance of the pricing is on par with Gaviota Marina.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 21, 2016 09:32 AM

Useful information re. Insurance for Cuba - from Sailing and Cruising Cuba Facebook Page:
We are travelling to Havana in February aboard our Tayana 42. I have finally found some references who are willing to underwrite for a smaller boat
Kevin Severance Insurance
Rachel Sloan
International Marine Insurance Services (IMIS)
Ingrid Anglin
Smith Merritt Insurance, Inc.

Canucksailor says:
Oct 30, 2015 02:28 AM

Once again things have changed for Americans going to Cuba. This is as of September 21, 2015 - if all on the boat are entering Cuba under one of the 12 'exceptions' - general license provisions - then the boat may ALSO enter Cuba, with the only document required being a USCG form 3300, which takes about three weeks to procure. Time of stay for the vessel is a maximum of two weeks. For those wanting specific details, contact me via my facebook page, Sailing and Cruising: Cuba -

Christine Myers
Christine Myers says:
Sep 30, 2015 12:13 AM

Hi all. Things keep changing in Cuba, so I'm replying to lots of outdated info and old posts.

As of May, when I was last there, Cuba had 8 ports of entry and two ports of exit-only. Entry/exit = Hemingway, Chapelin (Varadero), Darsena (Varadero), Vita, Santiago, Cienfuegos, Cayo Largo and Los Morros (Cabo San Antonio). Exit only ports = Baracoa and Coco-Guillermo.

Nueva Gerona is prohibited to private craft, but you can take a bus from El Colony (Siguanea) in the southwest corner of La Isla.

Sue and Cruisers Network are correct that a license from Treasury is not sufficient to take a private US-flagged vessel to Cuba. It also requires the BOAT to obtain permission from Commerce (through the link above). It does NOT replace the OFAC license, which is what the AMERICANS on board still need.

As far as marine parts go, facilities are limited. There is an abundant supply of well-trained marine diesel mechanics and electricians. And don't underestimate the ability of Cubans to fabricate necessary parts. Parts can be shipped duty free to Grand Cayman, as well.

If you approach Guantanamo, you will receive an escort out of the prohibited area by the US Coast Guard.

I disagree with the above note about yachting being in its infancy. Cubans are not allowed to own boats over about 10 feet long. Cienfuegos is a charter center with three companies doing a very good business, but not with Cubans. There's hope, though. Cienfuegos also has a sailing school and Cuban kids are out in optimists every afternoon.

I have never heard that sailing against the wind (counterclockwise, above) was a good way to cruise Cuba. While there are countercurrents and the Gulf Stream to take into consideration, life is usually better downwind (clockwise).

As far as Cuban law goes, you CAN fly out of the country and leave your boat, AFTER you pay your marina bill in advance, up to the date you intend to return. Otherwise, it can be declared "abandoned" and confiscated. I would not rely on someone's word. In my experience of Cuba, there is always paperwork if it's legit.

I believe that you can land a dinghy on any of the cayos that is not in a prohibited zone. Certainly that is true in the south, where here are hundreds of empty cayos and inviting beaches. Otherwise, it's still true that you cannot land a dinghy apart from a marina, where Customs and the COast Guard can keep an eye on them.

Finally, good news. Non US-flagged vessels can request US visas and permission for the boat at the US Embassy in Havana.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 30, 2015 12:34 PM

No, it's not true. This was just confirmed by Wally Moran (Canucksailor - see above) who is in contact with cruisers in Cuba at this time and abreast of the changing situation in Cuba. Immigration will give you a tourist card on arrival. See the Formalities section on Noonsite/Cuba for full details. If you don't have a US visa already, you can get one at the American Interests Section in Havana before leaving there.

Newdawn says:
Mar 26, 2015 12:36 PM

I've heard that a visa card is now required to enter Cuba. We are South African and British. Is this true and if so must one be obtained before arrival? We will be sailing from St. Martin on our way to the States. Many thanks!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 25, 2015 03:56 PM

As reported on the Yahoo Group - Cruisers Network Online - 22 March, 2015
Taking a US flagged vessel to Cuba

For captains interested in taking their boats to Cuba with an OK from the U.S. Government, the place to start is here:

That URL will lead you to the Department of Commerce’s SNAP-R (Simplified Network Application Program-Redesign), a simplified process for getting the paperwork you need for permission to go to Cuba. There are a lot of wickets to navigate, but applications are typically approved or turned down 3-4 weeks after a SNAP-R form is submitted to Commerce. This apparently replaces the old requirements for getting a license to visit Cuba, something that took months.

Keep in mind that (unless I am mistaken) U.S. insurance companies are prohibited from writing insurance to cover U.S. flagged yachts in Cuba, so if you’re hoping to take your boat to Cuba and want it to be insured you’d best make the necessary arrangements.

Canucksailor says:
Mar 19, 2015 05:34 PM

fyi, as always, if you have questions, you can contact me directly at

Canucksailor says:
Mar 19, 2015 05:33 PM

It is perfectly permissible to leave your boat and fly out. Dozens of people do just that. No need to see Escritch, the dockmaster can deal with it. fyi, I've started a Facebook page about Cuba to provide accurate and up to date information on the country. It's Sailing and Cruising: Cuba. Just log into Facebook and search that title.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Dec 18, 2014 02:38 PM

I suggest you contact the Commodore of Marina Hemingway - Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich - yachtclub[at]cnih[dot]mh[dot]tur[dot]cu. He speaks English and can advise on security etc. There's no restriction on how long you can leave a boat in Cuba, so if the flights are reasonable it is probably a good option.

wapiti says:
Dec 14, 2014 02:09 PM

We have to leave our boat for about a month and fly to Australia. The best route is via London. It seems the cheapest option is to leave the boat in Hemingway Marina and fly to London. Can anyone comment if it is OK to leave boats in Cuba and travel overseas? Is there a better option in the Caribbean?

Canucksailor says:
Apr 01, 2014 07:10 PM

The above information regarding pets is incorrect. Provided you enter with the dog's rabies' form, and a certificate of good health within the past five days (ask the vet to not date it), you will have no problems bringing your pet to Cuba. There is NO quarantine, and no requirement for a permit in advance from the Filosanitario. You can tie to a dock. Where do people get this misinformation from anyhow? If you have further questions about Cuba, please contact me directly at

Daniel Baydreamer
Daniel Baydreamer says:
Mar 16, 2014 12:40 PM

We are in Miami and are planning to sail to Havana! We do have a dog onboard ! Does anyone have any experience with bringing a dog into Cuba? Anything else that is worth knowing about if you are planning to cruise around in Cuba?

Best regards


Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 07, 2014 02:55 PM

Baracoa is no longer a port of entry, but can still be visited once clearance has been done elsewhere.

yogi says:
Dec 19, 2013 05:21 PM

We are planning to sail from Port Antonio, Jamaica to Santiago to clear in. Do you know, Sue, is it possible to clear out from Baracoa by the way to Bermuda? Thanks

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 25, 2013 11:03 AM

There is a small marina and a coast guard station, but it is not an official port of entry.
Frank Virgintino

korand says:
Nov 20, 2013 10:08 PM

Port of Entry - Does anyone know if you can clear into Cuba at Nueva Gerona, on the isle of Youth. I will be sailing their directly from Cayman islands.

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