Cuba - Profile
- In recent years more yachts have begun to visit Cuba as the authorities have started to encourage tourism. Consequently the entry procedures have been modified and yachts may now only clear in at a port of entry that also has a marina facility.
- 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, Marina Darsena in 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.
- Because the island runs in a general SE-NW direction and the prevailing winds are easterly, ideally one should cruise along Cuba's coasts in a counterclockwise direction.
- Yachting is still in its infancy and as there are very few locally owned sailing boats, repair facilities are limited. Resources to assist yachtsmen are limited or non-existent in most of the country and as a result one must be fairly independent if cruising here.
- 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.
Tourists are regarded as valued guests for Cuba and the local people will do all they can to help you. There has been no serious crime reported against visiting cruising yachts, however, in Cabo Cruz (along the route to Cienfeugos), there have been several reports of theft from yachts in the anchorage. The anchorage is far from town and people do swim out to the boats.
The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (firstname.lastname@example.org) gather 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 on the net. Remember, it is every cruiser's responsibility to ensure that incidents are reported.
Free Cruising Guides have completed the Caribbean Security Index (CSI) review of 2013 and updated the country ratings. The latest update of the CSI contains new information that may be important to you to “route around crime.”
See this report at http://www.noonsite.com/General/Piracy/caribbean-crime-caribbean-security-index-csi-review-of-2013
Last updated April 2014.
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.
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page