Famous actors on the stage of the impressive Terry Theatre and the worldwide biggest sugar exporting trade in the port – Cienfuegos is still keeping in mind these glorious times…
For the regulars out there that also speak a bit of Spanish, Cienfuegos translates to “Hundred Fires” and it’s a lovely town on the southern coast of Cuba, in the province with the same name. 250 km from Havana, the city stands near the Bay of Cienfuegos being an important trade center for the sugar, coffee and tobacco exports from the early 1800s.
The town has a lot of old colonial buildings giving it that Old World feel and earning it the nickname “La Perla del Sur” – The Pearl of the South among circles but also with locals. It’s also worth noting that Cienfuegos has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means that here you’ll be able to see things unique to this part of the world.
As your vessel cuts through the azure waters of the Caribbean, the sun-dappled shores of Cuba beckon you to a world where time seems to have stood still. The yacht charter base at Cienfuegos, known as the Pearl of the South, is your portal to a voyage marked by untouched coral reefs, vibrant marine life, and sun-kissed islands, each boasting a unique allure.
A two-week yacht charter from Cienfuegos presents an incredible opportunity to embark on a nautical adventure, revealing the many jewels of the Cuban Archipelago. To the south, the shimmering shores of the Canarreos Archipelago invite you to discover a trove of hidden bays, secluded beaches, and extraordinary snorkeling sites. On Cayo Largo, you'll find not only tranquil azure waters but also a Turtle Farm, a fascinating eco-park that offers a peek into the lives of these gentle marine creatures.
Set your compass westwards to navigate the vibrant waters around the Isle of Youth, the second largest Cuban island. Besides a stunning coastline, the island boasts a lush landscape with national parks and numerous archaeological sites. Adventure awaits under the sea as well; the marine environment teems with diverse aquatic life, creating a snorkeling and diving paradise.
An integral part of the Cuban experience is immersing in the local culture and lifestyle, and there's no better place than Cienfuegos to do so. This charming city enchants visitors with its vibrant music scene, colonial architecture, and gastronomic delights. As you relish the local cuisine, indulge in Ropa Vieja, a shredded beef dish steeped in a tomato-based sauce, or savor the unique taste of Moros y Cristianos, a classic Cuban dish of black beans and rice.
Travel & Arrival
Getting into Cienfuegos isn’t easy, as Cuba hasn’t the most open borders in the world, especially to American citizens. As usual, we’ll start with the air travel, provided by the Jaime Gonzales Airport which has three charter flights a week from Miami. For European travelers, an easier way would be to get to Abel Santa Maria Airport in Santa Clara and then catch a bus.
There are several busses that travel between Havana and Trinidad and also stop in Cienfuegos, and a couple that travel between Varadero and Santa Clara. Basically, a group can either catch the morning run or the afternoon one.
The most popular way of getting to Cienfuegos by foreign parties is by train from Havana with two trips every day, one in the morning and one in the late evening. Be prepared for a long trip though as the trains move notoriously slow.
Avant & Après Sail
Once in Cienfuegos the fun can begin, as most visitors are simply entranced by its old aristocratic feel and lovely neoclassical style buildings, Among the most important are the Government Palace (City Hall), San Lorenzo School, the Bishopric, the Ferrer Palace, the former lyceum and even some of the residential houses in the town’s center. You might also want to check out the Tomas terry theater and the Museo Historico.
Another lovely tourist attraction is the way to get around town in coches or horse-drawn carriages which are cheap but very picturesque. Most of the rides follow the famous Boulevard Paseo del Prado which is also the commercial center, with a lot of shops.
A sensory overload, Cienfuegos will also appeal to your taste buds, as the Cuban cuisine is an eclectic mix of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines, with the spices and techniques that were made popular by Creole cooks. Local restaurants come to meet the guests’ preferences with a wide assortment of recipes that include local dishes but also international too. You can choose to dine at the restaurant of a fancy hotel downtown or simply hangout at one of the pizzerias or bodegas scattered throughout the city.
And when the sun sets of the Bahia del Cienfuegos, the fun begins at any of the venues specialized in entertaining the crowds. Nightclubs and bars feature live salsa music and of course plenty of dancing as real Cubans do it.
Events & Actions
In and around the city, the locals made sure that any visitor won’t get bored while in Cienfuegos. Among the most popular activities are freshwater fishing, trips by the harbor in a boat and a walk on the seafront (malecon) at dusk. Of course, sailing is also a favorite pastime as is walking about the center of the old town admiring the various buildings and people.
As far as events go, the most well-known are the Festival de Camaron (shrimp festival) in April, the celebration of the city’s foundation (also in April) and in August, the Carnival (an event inherited from the Caribberean culture) as well as the Beny More Festival which goes on every other year.
What are some unmissable destinations when sailing from Cienfuegos?
The Canarreos Archipelago and the Isle of Youth are must-visit destinations, offering exquisite anchorages, pristine beaches, and ample opportunities for snorkeling and diving.
What is the best time to sail in this region?
The dry season from November to April is the best time to sail in this region, with ideal sailing conditions and an abundance of marine life.
Can I engage in water activities during my sailing trip?
Absolutely! Cuba's marine environment is a paradise for snorkelers and divers, with vibrant coral reefs and a rich diversity of sea life. Kayaking and fishing are also popular activities.
Which local dishes should I try in Cuba?
Try the traditional Cuban dishes such as Ropa Vieja, Moros y Cristianos, and Cubano sandwich. Also, don't forget to savor the local rum and the famous Cuban cigars.
What kind of marine life can I expect to encounter in the Cuban waters?
Cuba's waters are home to a rich marine ecosystem, including colorful tropical fish, turtles, stingrays, lobsters, and an occasional dolphin.
Are there any notable cultural or historical sites in Cienfuegos?
Yes, the city of Cienfuegos itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famed for its colonial architecture. Don't miss the opportunity to explore José Martí Park, the Terry Theatre, and the beautiful Palacio de Valle.
What facilities can I expect at the Cienfuegos marina?
Cienfuegos marina offers a range of facilities including a ship chandler, repair services, fuel, water and electricity supply, Wi-Fi, restrooms, and nearby restaurants.
Can I rent a yacht with a crew from Cienfuegos?
Yes, most yacht charter companies in Cienfuegos offer the option to charter a yacht with a crew, which usually includes a skipper and potentially a cook, allowing you to relax and fully enjoy your sailing vacation.
Set sail from Cienfuegos and let the Caribbean winds guide you to captivating landscapes, underwater wonders, and the warm hospitality of the Cuban people. Embark on a sailing journey that promises not just relaxation and adventure, but a vivid insight into a culture that is as rhythmic and vibrant as the seas that surround it.