The opinions of all the yacht sailors who comes to Cuba, and those who always want to come back to enjoy once more of the good things about the island are enough reasons to have Cuba among the main sun and sand destinations in the Caribbean and a great yacht charter destination.
Noted by its clean condition, the Cuban coasts feature marvelous ecosystems easily notice through the high level of conservation of its more than 300 beaches.
You can add to that the wonderful weather, privileged by the geographical location of the country, the constant refreshing effect of the winds and the warm water temperature (24º -29° C)
Cuba features virgin beaches in isolated keys all along the north and south coasts. Either long or short, anonymous or unknown at all, they can be found in the Guanahacabibe Peninsula, Biosphere Reserve, in the central part of Cuba or in the peaceful Baracoa, the first villa founded in the easternmost part of the country.
But if you really want to know the truth, visitors prefer Varadero, Guardalavaca, Esmeralda, Santa María del Mar, Santa Lucía or Ancón. When it comes to keys with your yacht you have visit Cayo Coco, Guillermo, Largo del Sur, Santa María, Las Brujas or Levisa and you won’t regret your choice, whatever it is.
Cuba features an average of 330 sunny days a year.
To the sailor, the whole coast and off-lying islands are fully accessible with the only exception of one prohibited area in the vicinity of the infamous "Bay of Pigs", or Playa Girón.
For the own security – and the safety of the yacht – is not allowed for guests to sail at night within the reef areas. However, there is no objection to go for a longer distance in deep waters in the dark or leave early from port or anchor to make a favorable landfall. Who can bring enough time is even invited to circumnavigate the island of Cuba – which would amount to some one and a half thousand nautical miles.
Climate: Cuba lies at the rim of the tropics and therefore has only two "seasons": the (comparatively) drier and cooler between November and April and the (comparatively) warmer and more humid between May and Ocotober, which has dry and paticularly hot stretches in July and August. For our standards, it is always warm with an average January minimum of not less than 18°C and far more than 30°C in August; the sea temperature is never below 24°C – all these being the statistical values of Havana at the "cool" north coast.
Wind: The reliable trade winds are blowing constantly from easterly directions with a tendency to the north in winter and to the south in summer. Wind speed averages at 10 to 15 knots in winter and 5 to 10 knots in summer, when calm times are also possible. Especially where the mountains reach close to the coastline, catabatic effects can be observed to influence the prevailing easterlies. This weather system is subject to two main disturbances: the nortes or northers in winter, violent intrusions of cold air, which affect the nort coast with nominable drops of temperature that cause all Havana to catch a cold and make many harbour entrances virtually impassable. Hurricanes can only arise at water temperatures of more than 27°C in the Atlantic and are therefore limited to the late summer months with a peak in September and October. Modern meteorology is able to predict these tropical storms very reliably.
Tides: Along the whole Cuban coast there are only minor tides which reach a maximum of 0,6 m at he northwest coast. At the south coast we have an irregular semidiurnal tide of less than half a meter, which, however, should be taken into account in island passages and shallow areas. Currents are, except in very narrow passages, very moderate.
Magnetic variation: The local magnetic variation increases from west (Cabo San Antonio in 2000: ca. 1°W) to east (Punta Maisí: ca. 8°W) with an annual increase of ca. 8’W.
Coastal Formation: Even in the age of GPS and chart plotters, the sharp eye of the skipper remains the most important navigational instrument. "Eyeball Navigation" is madatory, most of all the correct recognition and interpretation of the colour shades of the water. An elevated position and polarizing sunglasses are very useful at this "living" coast: coral and mangroves don't stick to navigational mapping and have certainly developed on since the last survey! Outside protected lagoons there can also be a significant movement of the sea in shallow waters. The bottom of the sea rises more or less vertically from a depth of more than a thousand meters to close beyond the surface. The most significant gradient on the whole earth is near the southeast coast of Cuba: from Pico Turquino (1972 m) in the Sierra Maestra down to a depth of more than 7000 m below sea level.
Cuba is a travel destination which many guests find surprisingly uncomplicated. No visa or vaccinations are required, so that a trip to Cuba can be started very spontaneously. Who has US dollars in small denominations will be able to solve most problems very quickly. Cubans are champions in replacing organization by improvisation and perfection by helpfulness every day. The traveller should bring some understanding for this and that the verdes, the green dollar bills, are a bare necessity for survival.
Documents: A passport, which must be valid for at least six more months, plus a tourist card (25 Euros, sold by our charter partner) is sufficient for a stay of up to 30 days and can be prolonged once inside Cuba.
Immigration/Customs: Border clearance combines iron curtain procedures with Carribean charme, quite a change for guests from the "Schengen countries". Your baggage will be X-rayed by Cuban customs at entry and departure, so better observe regulations and allowances, which are within international rules anyway. If one of of the officers - usually directed from the background - searches your bags, he or she will do this with selected friendliness and apologize several times for the inconvenience. Importation of GPS devices, wireless phones, shortwave radios and any satellite equipment is prohibited.
Money: Cuba has three currencies. As a tourist you are most likely to use only one of them: the US dollar, which buys virtually everything, including foreign products. The local equivalent is the "peso convertible", a sort of monopoly money, which is used when there are not enough US dollar bills available and can even be changed back into dollars. The value of the Cuban peso ("moneda nacional") officially is also 1:1 to the dollar, but the actual exchange rate moves around 27:1. In this currency Cubans receive their small salaries of ten to twenty dollars per month. Foreigners can use it when shopping for fruit and vegetables in farmer's markerts. Attention: the "$"-symbol is being used for all three sorts of money.
Change: Cash can be easily changed at banks. Traveller's cheques and credit cards issued by American banks cannot be used because of the Amrican blockade, so don't bring American Express, Diners etc. A network of ATMs/cash dispensers is developing.
Blockade“: The American trade embargo very effectively keeps Cuban goods out of the US, thus causing a severe lack of hard currency in Cuba. However, via Canada and Mexico, Cuba's most important trading partners, all western goods and even original American brands like Coca Cola come into the country. By the way, Americans are under their present law actually allowed to travel to Cuba, but not to spend money there... so don't be surprised to find lots of yachts flying the star-spangled banner in the marinas.
Health/Vaccinations: To enter Cuba, no immunizations are necessary when coming from Europe or North America. Generally recommended protection against tetanus, diphtheria and polio should be renewed. Cuba is malaria-free. Despite a severe lack of imported medicine, the health system enjoys an excellent reputation, hotels have treatment rooms with nurses and doctors. Foreigners have to pay for medical treatment in hard currency, so don't forget insurance. Avoid tap water and uncooked and unpeeled food, and bring sun and mosquito protection and your personal medicine!
Photo and Film: Cuba is a photographer's dream, and Cubans are talented and open-minded "actors". Rule of thumb: estimate your need of films, then bring at least twice as much.
Travelling Individually: by renting cars, which are expensive and not always very well maintained, sleeping in private homes (casas particulares) and eating in private restaurants (paladares) this is no problem - you can move around freely and will always meet helpful Cubans. Bring a good guidebook and road map.