Cuba has landscapes of untold beauty and great cultural heritage to offer. And on a yacht charter around its stunning coral reefs and white bays you will forget completely about your everyday life at home…
With so many legends surrounding Cuba, the best thing you could do is to head there yourself on a yacht charter to see what it really is like. When people think of Cuba they just refer to the one big island, but Cuba is actually made up of the Cuban Island, Isla de la Juventud and a few more archipelagos.
Though just 145 km off the coast of Florida, there’s nothing American about this place, except maybe the old cars (Yank Tanks) that have been running on Cuban streets since the 50s. The rest of Cuba very much has a Spanish influence, with lots of colonial style buildings that you can admire when you come here on a sailing holiday.
Before Columbus claimed the island for the Spanish in 1492, Cuba was inhabited by Native American people. But they were enslaved by the arriving Europeans to help with the building of cities and with gold mining. Also a lot of African slaves were brought to the island to work on the sugar, coffee and tobacco plantations. After 400 years of Spanish rule Cuba got its independence in 1868.
Being part of the Caribbean, Cuba is just a wonderful place to visit on a boat rental. It has an abundance of coastline and the numerous islands that make up the neighbouring archipelagos are a stunning yacht charter destination to explore. After all, these are the shores that the famous writer Ernest Hemingway chose as his place to live, and there’s even a local marina named after him.
Law & Order
Other than Cuban rum, cigars and great music you’ll encounter warm and welcoming people - even if the country is in need of a make-over after all the years under communist rule. All tourists are expected to hold a visa but don’t worry, you can get one at the airport on arrival for your skippered or bareboat charter in Cuba. However, some airlines won’t let you board without one so make sure to get one in advance.
This visa is valid for 30 days and it can be extended for another 30 days at any Cuban immigration office but you will have to pay a fee for that. Something that’s particular to Cuba is the departure tax, paid when leaving the country by airplane. This doesn’t however apply when leaving by boat, a hint to all you sailors out there.
Even though the political climate might change now, a very important issue to remember is not to take your charter yacht over to the neighbouring US. You might be tempted to sail to Florida just because it’s close but boat travel between the two countries is a very touchy subject and should be avoided due to the current embargo by US authorities. American citizens and American-registered boats in particular are targeted by the authorities and they might go as far as confiscating the boat if they feel something isn’t right. The best thing to do is not travel directly from Cuba to America. Most yacht charterers travel to the Bahamas first and then to either of the countries.