Cuba: The Queen of the Antilles

Cuba, in the heart of the Caribbean, is an island republic of heavenly beauty. Rainforests, islands off the coast – called Cayos – as well as more than 200 bays, 300 sandy beaches, crystal clear water and a dazzling underwater world with over 500 species of fish and 50 species of coral await the visitor. For Christopher Columbus, Cuba is said to have been the most beautiful country he has ever seen.

The cities with their nostalgic charm, rich in architecture from the colonial era, should also be visited on a shore excursion. Trinidad and the capital Havana have been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. The revolutionary Cuba with its good health system is a relatively poor country 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and decades of US embargoes. Nevertheless, the country and the people exude a great zest for life that rubs off on the visitor.

South coast of Cuba

Sailing into the Caribbean past

The yacht charter area along the south coast of Cuba is the perfect place for a wonderful sailing holiday with its crystal clear, warm water, pleasant air temperatures and good wind conditions. Hundreds of lonely bays and beaches of Caribbean beauty, the Bahia de Cienfuegos, the offshore small islands such as Cayo Largo, Isla de la Juventud, the Golfo de Ana Maria, the Archipielago de los Jardines de la Reina and the Bahia de Santiago form an enchanting backdrop with a length of approx. 2,500 km. At the Cayos you can admire flamingos, turtles, lobsters, hundreds of fish species and dozens of coral species in their natural habitat.

The marinas in Cuba always offer a place for your yacht, as the yacht charter area of ​​the south coast of Cuba is not yet as developed as the area of ​​the other Caribbean islands.

The region around the starting point of the yacht charter in Cienfuegos offers sailing vacationers well-equipped marinas as well as romantic anchorages on the Cayos. From Cienfuegos you can head for Cayo Largo and Isla de la Juventud in the north.

The Golfo de Ana Maria with its more than 900 small islands and the Archipielago Jardines de la Reina (Queen’s Gardens) is a journey into the past of the Caribbean. Bays and lagoons for swimming, white sandy beaches for sunbathing and enchanting landscapes, but also a gorgeous underwater world for divers and snorkelers are part of this trip far away from modern civilization.

For sailing trips in remote areas you should have stocked up on everything you need beforehand, as the possibilities on site are limited.

Territory properties

Cuba has a subtropical climate, the mean annual temperature is just under 25°C. The wind usually blows from an easterly to northeasterly direction at around 10 knots. In summer it is a little weaker. The trade wind blows a little more south in the winter months, so different wind systems can collide and the wind direction can then change to north or west. In summer, thunderstorms occur due to the high water vapor content of the air. There is a risk of hurricanes in late summer. The lighting is not always good.
The yacht charter area on the south coast of Cuba is moderately difficult to challenging.
The yacht charter area on the south coast of Cuba contains many coral reefs with shallow water. Reef passages are not always clearly marked. There are three easily navigable passages to access the Golfo de Ana Maria: Canal del Oeste, Canal de Breton and Canal Boca Grande. The twelve-mile zone should not be left. Despite GPS, you should always keep an eye out so as not to get too close to the many reefs.

Bahia de Cienfuegos

The city is located in the Bahia de Cienfuegos. The town on the south coast of Cuba is the yacht charter center of Cuba. Your sailing vacation in Cuba begins from here. The marina Marlin Cienfuegos is also located here, the largest marina on the Cuban south coast.

In this marina you can anchor in front of the marina or near the city at a depth of 5m. The anchorage is well-holding mud. A good, secluded anchorage can be found northeast of Cayo Carenas, where you lie at a depth of 12m. The Marina Marlin Cienfuegos offers sanitary facilities, electricity and water connections as well as repair and refueling facilities. The stay in Cienfuegos should definitely be used for shopping for your sailing trip, as this is the cheapest place to go shopping on the entire south coast of Cuba.

Cayo Largo and Isla de la Juventud

The islands of Cayo Largo and Isla de la Juventud offer a quiet sailing area. The area is better developed for tourism than the south coast of Cuba. There are two large marinas and wonderful anchorages here.

Marina Gran Caribe – Cayo Largo: The berths in this marina have space for 45 sailing yachts and catamarans. Dives and excursions can be booked at the marina and tourist office. The marina offers sanitary facilities and refueling facilities. You can also refill the gas bottle for cooking here. Food and water supplies should be replenished here, as the marina is the only option for shopping between Cienfuegos and Isla de la Juventud. Restaurants and bars are open sporadically – on request you can help yourself to the buffets in the large hotel complexes.

In the vicinity of Cayo Largo you can find small secluded anchorages in charming surroundings. These include Cayo Rico, Cayería los Majáes, Cayos Hijos de los Ballenatos, Cayo los Ballenatos and Cayo Piedra. Important to note: If you want to stay overnight in the Cayos, you have to clear your yacht in Cayo Largo beforehand.

Isla de la Juventud

Caleta Puerto Francés: The first anchorages on the west coast of Isla de la Juventud are in Caleta Puerto Francés. Here you anchor the yacht at a depth of 2.7 to 3.5 m.

Marina Siguanea: In the bay Ensenada de la Siguanea, you tie up at the pier next to the diving ships. This marina provides water and electricity supplies as well as tank facilities. There are no shopping opportunities for groceries here.

Ensenado los Barcos: This mangrove-lined bay in the north of the island offers well-protected anchorages.

Further anchorages for yachts can be found in Nueva Gerona. Numerous cayos (e.g. Cayo Quitasol, Cayo el Ingles, Cayo el Navio and Cayo de a Cruz) off the northeast coast of Isla de la Juventud offer quiet anchorages with a typical Caribbean look.

Bahia Casilda and Trinidad

Marina Marlin – Ancon Peninsula: The marina is located on the Ancón Peninsula, opposite the town of Casilda, not far from Trinidad. The marina has 26 berths with a water depth of 2.10 meters. This marina offers sanitary facilities, a bar and a 24-hour security service.

Other anchorages near Casilda can be found in Bahia de Casilda, west of the unfired red buoy. Here you anchor at a depth of 6 to 7 meters, the anchorage is silt. There are also anchorages around the island of Cayo Blanco.

Archipielago de los Jardines de la Reina / Golfo de Ana Maria

Cayo Bretón: On the westernmost island of the “Queen’s Gardens” you can anchor well protected near Punta Bretón. Anchoring is done on sand, at a water depth of 5 meters. To the south of the lighthouse, the lagoon also offers safe, beautiful anchorages for yachts.

Cayos de Cinco Balas: On the flat archipelago, only the Estero Inglés anchorage is suitable for yachts. The cayos and the reef provide good protection. When entering the lagoon, caution and precise maneuvering is required. Only the southern entrance passage is recommended for access.

Cayos Cuervo: In the middle of the atoll Cayos Cuervo is the well protected anchorage. The water depth here is between 6 and 8 meters.

Cayo Algodón Grande: The best anchorage in the Golfo de Ana Maria is located in the southwest of the island of Cayo Algodón Grande. Yachts are anchored here on a sandy bottom at a water depth of 4 meters. Towards the inner part of the lagoon the water depth decreases to two meters. The best way to get to the lagoon is through the Canal de Caballones.

Bahia de Santiago de Cuba

Marina Marlin – Punta Gorda: This relatively new marina is located on Punta Gorda in the large Bahia de Santiago de Cuba bay.

When entering Cuba, the passport must be valid for another 6 months. In addition, a “tourist card” is required for a stay of a maximum of 30 days. For sailing trips in Cuba a “cruising permit” is required. This can be obtained from the “Guarda Frontera” upon arrival at the port of entry.

There are various options for getting here: First travel to Paris and then on with Air France directly to Havana. Alternatively, travel to Amsterdam and from there take a direct flight with Martin Air to Havana. Iberia flies to Havana via Madrid. Condor offers direct flights from German airports to Havana and Varadero. The Marina Cienfuegos is about three hours by car (approx. 250 km) from Havana. A stop-over in Havana is highly recommended.
It is not allowed to sail outside the specified sailing area or to go ashore outside the marinas. Night sailing is prohibited in the reef area. Locals should never be invited on board.
A visit to the capital Havana. Experience the lively metropolis of revolutionary Cuba, with its many bars with live music, cozy old street cafes and the artisan markets. Explore the historic streets of the city of Trinidad. Enjoy the Caribbean on the white sandy beaches of Cayo Largo. For smokers, enjoying a hand-rolled Cuban cigar is a must. Don’t miss an original “Cuba libre” either.