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By No owner — last modified Jan 04, 2018 05:58 PM

 Cuba - Profile


  • Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet.
  • The total population of Cuba is 11.5 million.
  • Cuba has two official currencies. The CUP (Cuban Peso) and the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso). For details see General Info.
  • The country operates on Cuba Standard Time. For specifics see General Info.
  • Cuba has a Caribbean sub-tropical climate with a rainy hot and humid weather in summer, and mild weather in winter. See Weather section for more details.
  • 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. Some of the designated stops are: Puerto VitaCayo Coco, VaraderoMarina HemingwayCayo Largo, Cienfuegos, and Santiago.
  • 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. For more details on yachting services see Yachting Essentials.
  • 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 Cienfuegos and Trinidad, where there are large charter boat operations.
  • Although not officially permitted, gifts of clothes, shoes, eye glasses or household items are very welcome by the Cuban people.


Overall Crime and Security

Most crime can be associated with pickpocketing, purse snatching, fraud schemes, and thefts from unoccupied cars, hotel rooms, and dwellings. Visitors are generally perceived to be more affluent than Cubans  presenting them as attractive targets. Most offences take place in areas frequented by foreigners.

For travel advisories see the following websites:

Specific Areas of Concern:

Road Safety:

Accidents involving motor vehicles are the leading cause of accidental deaths in Cuba. The roads are often dangerous due to lack of road maintenance. Potholes and a lack of proper lighting make driving at night particularly dangerous. Cuban drivers tend to place large sticks or rocks in the road to indicate a hazard or broken down vehicle ahead. It is often difficult to see these accident markers until one has hit them.

Maritime Issues

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.

Reprted Incidents

May 2018: Dinghy and outboard thefts (and night boardings) continue to be reported from Cienfuegos. Be sure to lift and lock your dinghy at night, secure your outboard and carry a minimum amount of gas in your dinghy tank.

June 2016: A yacht anchored at Isla de la Juventud reported deck gear (cockpit cushions, sunglasses, dock lines, life sling etc.) stolen 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 and follow on facebook and twitter.

Also be sure to check the Noonsite Piracy & Safety Pages

Emergency Numbers:

See General Info for more details.

Last updated:  October 2018


The climate is sub-tropical 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. The climate is fairly uniform from one area to the other.

Instituto de Meteorologia de la Republica de Cuba (in Spanish)

See the Caribbean National, Regional and Island Weather Websites report for more.

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page

Main Ports

Rommelbee says:
Apr 23, 2019 04:54 AM


Visited the southern coast of Cuba in April 2019. Regrettably, once cleared in we were advised by the Guarda Costera that there is no visiting allowed to this area, which was our main interest for visiting Cuba. They do not know when they will reopen for foreign yachts.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 05, 2017 07:42 PM

Reported May 24th on Cuba Land & Sea Facebook Group:
We are currently in Cienfuegos and are sadly reporting that a dinghy raised on the davits at night on a Catamaran at anchor was cut away. The dinghy was not locked but found the next day with its 15hp outboard missing.
We stopped locking our dinghy in Grand Cayman after a month there and it was stolen. Just a reminder to lock lock and lock your dinghy.

sailingforfun says:
Mar 27, 2017 03:26 PM

February 2017. Cienfuego is a small marina and very active with two charter companies operating there, one being Dream Yacht Charters. Customs and Immigration were very friendly. They recently added some new floating docks, but they are already being used by Dream Yacht Charters. If you want a dock space it's best to avoid the weekends. Saturday the charters return and Sundays they go back out. The docks are usually empty during the weekdays. We asked for space from the charter company, not the marina, and they accommodated us.

Siguania Marina, Isla de Juventud. The entrance to the marina is very shallow, however we draft 4'3" and were able to enter without touching the bottom. You must stay to the right side of the channel to avoid running aground. They have some very small bamboo'ish sticks splitting the channel. You want to keep them to port. There are only 2 power stands of which one has a resident boat always hooked up to it. We hooked to the other one and had power and water while there. They run dive trips from here. The Hotel Colony is within walking distance. Strange place that is lost in time. The place is fully staffed but virtually no guests there. It's worth the walk.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 13, 2017 03:44 PM

Posted on Cuba, Land & Sea Facebook page:
After a 3 month cruise starting in Varadero, counter clockwise to Cayo Largo on the south shore then returning to Hemingway, I thought about sending out a few tips. Water is good at Hemingway and Varadero, and ok at Cabo San Antonio, after that it's a long way to Cienfuegos for drinking water. Cayo Largo does not have potable water, but you can buy bottles to use...
Diesel at all Marinas was good.
On the north coast a stop at Cayo Levisa is recommended, safe anchorages with a beautiful beach in the north.. the small resort has an internet cafe, bar and restaurant. Guardia were friendly.
The south coast has many more beaches to explore, Cayo Juan Garcia, Punta Frances, Cayo Campos (Monkey Island!) and Cayo Largo to name a few..
Going ashore on the south coast at remote stops is no problem, on the north coast at La Esperanza we could not land and go ashore as the guide books suggest..

Rommelbee says:
Apr 23, 2019 04:56 AM

Visited Maria La Gorda in April 2019. Now mooring balls installed and were allowed to visit. Nice scuba area.

DRoss says:
Feb 08, 2017 03:58 PM

We were on the Southern Coast of Cuba throughout Jan 2017. We found the following that might be of interest. La Coloma and Maria LaGorda no longer allow transient vessels. Both of these are stated as places you can visit in Cheryl Barr's pilot book from 2013.But I was told La Coloma has been closed to transients for a long while.We visited Maria LaGorda in 2014 and this time actually had a despacho from Marina Cayo Largo for there but were told by the dockmaster that it is now closed. You can neither anchor nor take a mooring anywhere in Bahia de Corrientes. We proceeded to the Marina at Los Morros on Cabo San Antonio. The dockmaster there told us that new mooring balls were going to be installed at Maria LaGorda and transients would again be allowed. He said that Cuba now was only allowing vessels to stay at "International Marinas". On the South Coast that would be Los Morros, Sigunea on Isla Juventude(which is too shallow to enter), Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos,Casilda-Trinidad area and Santiago de Cuba. In general the various cayos are exempt from that ruling.

Canucksailor says:
Oct 25, 2016 06:41 PM

Contrary to the text here, US companies are now allowed to write vessel insurance for Cuba. Pantaenius is one, and IMIS Insurance services is another source.

Canucksailor says:
Oct 11, 2016 04:29 PM

Some corrections are required. Pets require ONLY a rabies vaccination and a vet health certificate. There is no quarantine requirement.
An exit zarpe is NOT required. Given that the majority of vessels coming to Cuba come from the US and Bahamas, neither of which issue exit zarpes, you can see why.
Key West is no longer to be feared as a port of entry when coming from Cuba - they are now quite friendly. Return to the US via a third country is not necessary.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jun 21, 2016 12:11 PM

Useful Information for US Cruisers wanting to visit Cuba - by Addison Chan of Cuba, Land & Sea Facebook Group:

There are three US Departments that need to be satisfied before you can go to Cuba in a private vessel. If you are going by air the rules are different and much easier to follow.

Firstly you need to have a license from the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control. To obtain the license you need to qualify under one of 12 categories of licenses. Since September 21, 2015 you no longer have to apply and be granted a license prior to travel. You are now permitted to self-declare under which of the 12 categories you qualify, with the caveat that you must retain justifying documents, receipts, itineraries etc. for up to 5 years for examination if challenged.

Secondly if you are planning on taking your vessel into Cuban waters for a period greater than 14 days then you must apply for an export permit from the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security. If you are planning on spending 14 days or less then the export permit requirement is waived by BIS, provided you qualify under one of the 12 OFAC license categories.

Finally you need to obtain permission to enter Cuban waters from the Department of Homeland Security. The permission is administered by the United States Coast Guard and is commonly known as the form CG3300.

Despite the involvement of 3 government departments, if your intention is to remain in Cuba for 14 days or less, the only document that you must have physically in your possession prior to traveling to Cuba is the CG 3300.

Note: Apply well in advance of your intended departure date - it can take 3-4 weeks to get this document processed and returned to you.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 16, 2016 10:52 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 29, 2015 11:13 PM

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 11:34 AM

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 06:10 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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