Cuba - Facts

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  • 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 the Atlantic Ocean meet.
  • The total population of Cuba is 11.5 million.
  • From January 1st 2021 the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso) will no longer be in circulation. The CUP (Cuban Peso) will be the only official currency. For details see General Info.  (Note:  US Dollars are accepted and in many cases most welcome!)
  • The country operates on Cuba Standard Time. For specifics see General Info.
  • Spanish is the principal language of Cuba. Although many of the younger people speak some English almost none of the older people do, nor do most of the officials away from major towns.
  • 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 Vita, Cayo Coco, Varadero, Marina Hemingway, Cayo 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 the 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, eyeglasses or household items are very welcome by the Cuban people.

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  1. January 13, 2023 at 3:28 AM
    profile photo
    peterpbswhistler-com says:

    Cleared in from Isla Murjeres mexico at Hemingingway. Very professional and easy. All agents came aboard No food taken or equipment. Not much food to buy, and not much at the marina, so bring lots. Spent a week exploring Havana. Restaurants good but better in old Havana. Cubans want US dollars and are willing to give much higher exchange rates than the banks. US credit or atm cards not excepted. Tropicana show was amazing.
    Captain Pete, Northern Lynx, Canada 01/12 2023

    1. January 26, 2023 at 8:11 PM
      sallycurrin says:

      We can echo all that Captain Pete says about the welcome we received at Hemingway Marina and the cash economy in Havana. We are now in Cayo Largo on the south west coast and equally professional and friendly welcome but the only way to pay for anything here is with a non-US credit card. No cash is accepted anywhere here as it is a Government run resort island. Very limited supplies in marina store. Shoreside bar and restaurant does serve meals. When we were in Hemingway we did a land trip to Vinales and there we could only pay with cash as in Havana.

  2. January 27, 2021 at 9:52 PM
    klabautermann says:

    Cuba South Coast, I left Santiago de Cuba on the 16th of January 2021 to sail to the Bahamas. When I arrived I asked whether it is allowed to anchor and sail through the Jardin de la Reina. I was told by the Marina and the Port Captain that it would be no problem. Other sailors told me that you will have to sign a paper when you leave to sail West that you are not allowed to anchor anywhere or go ashore anywhere, except for the other Marina#s on the South Coast. This happened to two other yacht who left Santiago while I was there, that’s why I decided to sail to the Bahama’s. Havana was closed and the number of Covid cases were seriously on the rise. Jan S/Y AKASHA

  3. July 21, 2020 at 9:09 PM
    agmaube says:

    Marina Hemingway,
    The ship was moored in March, with a contracted sailor, as required by the marine authorities. Today they inform us that they have stolen a computer, satellite phone, binocular, tools, tablet, portable gps, etc etc. We cannot go to Cuba because of Covid, very disappointed with this expensive Marina and the lack of security.

  4. April 3, 2020 at 12:19 AM
    scrape says:

    Relayed from the crew of Mikhaya:

    “Today we woke up to some disturbing emails that turned out to be overly emotional reactions to the Cuban prime minister’s speech yesterday in which he addressed the situation where some foreign vessels remained in Cuban waters but were required to leave immediately. We presume that we are part of this group.

    Anyways, with that in mind, we initiated contact with some fishing boats that are now anchored in our harbour, gave them our details, and asked them to send a message to the port captain of Cienfuegos (our authorized destination). We asked them to relay that we are fully cooperative and intend to leave Cuba ASAP, but we need food and diesel in order to leave safely.

    They got word back from the port captain that they would send a boat from the guarda frontera to meet us on our boats and that we should stay put.

    ‪At about 4:30 pm, we were met by several Cuban officials, including a guarda frontera official, an immigration officer, and a doctor, amongst others. They again collected our details, and informed us that we need to proceed to Cienfuegos in order to get what we need to make the trip out of Cuba. ‬

    We asked if we could amend our destination to Cayo Largo which is more along our route, and we were told that that would not be possible.

    We advised the Cubans that we don’t have enough fuel to motor direct to Cienfuegos, and with the very light winds in Thursday’s forecast, we would need a few days to make the 110 nm trip to Cienfuegos. They had no problem with this.

    So tomorrow, we plan to motor to Cayo Cinco Balas where we will be well positioned to depart for Cienfuegos when the winds shift.

    That’s the update for now. All the officials are being very reasonable and respectful.

    We don’t expect any major changes or updates until our next official contact in Cienfuegos a couple days from now.

    Hope all is well at home,

    Further to this- the Guarda Frontera boat that checked on us spend the night in the same harbour as us. They trailed us for a few miles as we made our way towards Cinco Balas which we had already informed them we would do until the winds filled in enough for us to make our trip to Cienfuegos.

    After following us for about half an hour, they peeled off to the southeast and we haven’t seen them since.

    All is well.

    Largely based on the info you sent yesterday about east coast port tightenings, we’re not so sure we’ll race north just yet. We are thinking we’ll make the short crossing over to Mexico where we can at least get connected again and be self-informed. I agree 100% with your assessment that Mexico will go off in a bad way, when it does. We don’t plan to do much (if anything) off the boat or outside the group of our flotilla. “

  5. March 26, 2020 at 12:48 PM
    todd says:

    I landed in Puerto Vita March 15th, and was evicted from the country March 22nd with three hours notice due to covid 19 panic. They informed my I was not being targeted, and not to attempt entry in Varadaro or Havana. I had a three day sail to West Palm Beach, USA. No issue clearing into USA.

  6. May 30, 2019 at 9:14 PM
    Bondar132 says:

    Just cleared into and out of Hemmingway Marina. Very expensive and not a good experience. Understanding that they are having serious issues now, I was disappointed in how much kickback was expected by everyone except the officials. Harbour master to dock help all were looking for Money. No access to any other marinas allowed. Told no anchoring out on the south side.. Too bad Cuba is now on the blacklist for myself and friends

  7. May 1, 2019 at 4:00 PM
    danalevinson says:

    In Hemingway Marina very professional paint job in good price was done on our boat.
    Contact: [email protected]
    You have to provide all matetial needed for the job.

  8. April 23, 2019 at 4:56 AM
    Lynda Lim says:

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

  9. April 23, 2019 at 4:54 AM
    Lynda Lim 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.

  10. June 5, 2017 at 7:42 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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 and lock your dinghy.

  11. March 27, 2017 at 3:26 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    February 2017. Cienfuegos 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 on 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.

  12. March 13, 2017 at 3:44 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Posted on Cuba, Land & Sea Facebook page:
    After a 3-month cruise starting in Varadero, counterclockwise 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 was 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..

  13. February 8, 2017 at 3:58 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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 was 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.

  14. October 25, 2016 at 6:41 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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.

  15. October 11, 2016 at 4:29 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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.

  16. June 21, 2016 at 12:11 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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 of 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 travelling 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.

  17. May 16, 2016 at 10:52 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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.

  18. January 21, 2016 at 9:32 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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.

  19. October 30, 2015 at 2:28 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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 –

  20. September 29, 2015 at 11:13 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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, Chaplin (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 centre 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 there 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.

  21. March 30, 2015 at 11:34 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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.

  22. March 26, 2015 at 12:36 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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!

  23. March 25, 2015 at 3:56 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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.

  24. March 19, 2015 at 5:34 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    FYI, as always, if you have questions, you can contact me directly at [email protected]

  25. March 19, 2015 at 5:33 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    It is perfectly permissible to leave your boat and fly out. Dozens of people do just that. No need to see Eschrich, 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.

  26. December 18, 2014 at 2:38 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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.

  27. December 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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?

  28. April 1, 2014 at 6:10 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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 [email protected]

  29. March 16, 2014 at 12:40 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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


  30. January 7, 2014 at 2:55 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

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

  31. December 19, 2013 at 5:21 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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

  32. November 25, 2013 at 11:03 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

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

  33. November 20, 2013 at 10:08 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

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

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