Feb 10th, 2015
Like many of you, all of us here at Fly Water are quite interested in the prospect of traveling and fishing in Cuba. For years a select brave few have been traveling and fishing down there illegally. Most have accomplished this by traveling through Mexico and making sure their travel documents were not stamped. While this was an option for some, most of us have not been willing to take the risk.
Now times have changed. The administration has made significant changes in its policy towards Cuba and fishing operations have taken steps to allow Americans traveling to Cuba for fly fishing purposes completely legal. Although restrictions are easing, travel to Cuba is still limited to traveling with companies and organizations that are licensed to grant group permits through People to People Cuba. Avalon Fishing Centers and Bonefish Tarpon Trust have teamed up to make this educational licensing possible. Also airline ticketing capabilities is limited to a very few U.S. and Canadian travel agents. Additionally all anglers must travel in groups and all members must arrive and depart Havana on the same day. Also due to travel restrictions, flights that enter or exit Havana will be issued separate tickets from the domestic or connecting flights. This means you will have to collect your bags and recheck in for your final leg to Havana.
Documentation Requirements: To enter and depart Cuba, you are required to have a U.S. passport valid for at least six months from the return date of your proposed travel.
Licenses: You must purchase an educational license through People to People to enter Cuba. This can be done by making a donation to the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.
To test out the new rules Fly Water sent our northwest dealer representative Jon Covich down for a multiple week tour of the country. Jon had made prior trips on a journalism permit but this time he secured his permit by making a donation with the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. His travels went smoothly all the way down. On the way back he was questioned when he was going through customs. He let officials know he was in Cuba on an educational People to People permit. They checked his paperwork and asked if he had a good time, then sent him on his way.
For more information please refer to the following articles:
Where do we go from here? We go fishing in Cuba!
Unlike most of the areas we fish in the world today where free enterprise leads to multiple operators competing in a region, the vast waters of Cuba are a bit different. Currently there is one major outfitter, Avalon Cuban Fishing Centers, which has multiple operations across the country. There are also a few other smaller operators including Solid Adventures.
Located in the Greater Antilles group and encompassing some 4,194 various islets and cayes, the archipelago of Cuba offers an incredibly rich and dynamic saltwater angling locale. This well manged and pristine resource gives fly anglers a wide range of trip options across a massive area to target permit, bonefish, and both migratory and resident tarpon. Let Fly Water Travel seamlessly help you experience some out-of-this-world fishing, the time-capsuled beauty of Havana and perhaps even a Cuban cigar or two.
Getting to Cuba:
All standard trips to Cuba start and end in Havana. There are direct flights to Havana from Miami, Vancouver, Calgary, Mexico City, Cancun, or the Cayman Islands. Most trips include one or two nights in Havana as part of the package. From Havana you will be transferred to/from the fishing areas. Rates below are based on 7 night/6 day fishing packages. They do not include the mandatory donations ($500 USD) or additional nights in Havana.
Avalon Fishing Centers is far and away the biggest game in town when it comes to fishing in Cuba. They have exclusive permits to four different regions, a massive guide staff, and the on ground personnel to help make for a smooth trip. The regions they offer trips are:
Jardines De La Reina
With an area bigger in size then the entirety of the Florida Keys, Jardines De La Reina which translates to the “Gardens of the Queen”, is a vast and prolific marine sanctuary offering world class saltwater fly fishing for a variety of species. Both migratory and baby tarpon, permit, bonefish, jacks and barracuda are all available in this pristine ecosystem.
Lodging: Numerous live aboard boats.
Rate (based on La Tortuga): €3,40 – €4,950
Commercial fishing in this massive area of flats, cayes and estuaries is strictly forbidden and meticuluously enforced. Featuring one of the most biologically healthy, untouched and pristine environments in all of Cuba, this destination is only entering it’s fourth season ever of recreational fishing. With much still left to explore, this fishery is defined by great wading opportunities and fantastic fishing for large bonefish, permit and migratory tarpon in season. Specially reserved areas with aggressive resident tarpon are left untouched by the guides except for anglers attempting to complete the third catch in a grand slam bid.
Lodging: Casona de Romano or Numerous live aboard boats
Hotel Casona de Romano (an old colonial style sugar-plantation house)
The former residence of a sugar cane plot owner, La Casona De Romano was originally built in 1919 and then fully renovated two years ago specifically for travelling anglers. This simple and classically Cuban estate features eight double rooms to deliver a very unique lodging experience and a beautiful basecamp from which to launch your Cayo Cruz exploration. It’s important to remember that the lodge is about an hour drive away from the boat launch each day.
Live Aboard Boats – Multiple options.
Rate (based on Casa de Romano): €1,990 – €2,990
Rate (based on Avalon fleet 1 & groups of up to 10): €31,200 – €45,600
Avalon offers exlusive access to this meticulously managed marine park. Absent of any commercial fishing pressure, nets, or competing fishing companies Cayo Largo (Long Cay) is a precisely managed biosphere preserve and designated fly fishing only. This area is a paradise for fly anglers seeking unpressured fish and a prisitine environment. Fantastic opportunities for large bonefish and an abundant permit are the norm, with a few opportunities for resident tarpon as well. Trips to Cayo Largo avoid the confines of a liveaboard and gives anglers fantastic opportunities to explore the island’s incredible beaches, tours and dynamic eco-system.
Lodging: The Sol Club
The Sol Club is a large (296 room) all-inclusive resort offering a broad array of restaurants, swimming pools, classes, services, activities, eco-excursions and amenities. Suitable for families, couples and non-fishing friends, the resort is a perfect luxurious home base for anglers keen on fishing hard or those wanting to combine a fishing trip with non-fishing companions.
Rate: €3,750 – €5,250
Isla De La Juventud (isle of the youth)
The Isla de la Juventud has recently been established as a sister operation to the Jardines de la Reina. Renowned initially for its superb and large bonefish, it has quickly become a mecca for tarpon fly fishing due to the large numbers of mature 80lb+ tarpon that migrate to the fishing area each summer. A location for trophy tarpon & bonefish
Live Aboard Boats – Multiple options.
Rate (based on La Tortuga): €3,400 – €4,950
Avalon Live aboard boats:
This large double decker floating hotel operates as the perfect basecamp to access some of the most remote portions of the Jardines De La Reina (JDR). With seven separate staterooms, a secure and protected anchorage and a 1.5 million dollar renovation in 2008, the 110 foot long La Tortuga provides all the comforts of home while giving you prime access to the remote JDR wilderness.
The 75 foot Halcon is a recently remodeled luxury yacht with six cabins, three heads and is suitable for groups of eight anglers. The Halcon gives anglers unparalleled access to some of the most remote portions of the Jardines De La Reina. With simple surroundings and ultimate flexibility, a trip aboard the Halcon easily provides guests the ability to fish long days within very close proximity to the fishing grounds (sometimes only a 10 minute run).
Avalon Fleet 1:
The Avalon Fleet 1 offers guests the chance to experience Cayo Cruz from a liveaboard. Suitable for groups of up to 10 anglers, this spacious and large modern yacht offers comfortable accomodations with all the amenities of an upscale hotel on the water. A trip to Cayo Cruz on the liveaboard avoids the drive time each day as experienced on the land based trip.
Avalon Fleet II:
This new and state-of-the-art vessel gives groups of 12 a refined platform from which to experience the incredible beauty of the Jardines De La Reina environment. For groups looking for deluxe accommodations, stylish comfort and a plush exploration through the JDR, look no further than the Avalon Fleet II for your Cuban adventure.
Solid Adventures is run by Christer Sjoberg. Christer was the founder of Loop Tackle Design and his many contributions to our sport speak for themselves. He has been in the industry for more than 35 years and was one of the pioneers in opening up Russia to the sport fishing world back in the early 1990’s. He was also one of the first to offer fly fishing in Cuba and now has 2 unique operations in the country.
Cayo Santa Maria:
If you want to experience the full might of the most powerful fish on the flats, live in total comfort at the 5 star Hotel Sol Melia Santa Maria and travel knowing that the lodge will have a complete range of the latest saltwater fly fishing gear for you to borrow free of charge, then look no further than the Casa Batida Fishing Club. This location is know first and foremost as arguably the most consistent tarpon location in Cuba, with lots of fish in the 20-80 pound class. In addition the region offers flats for bonefish & barracuda, reef fishing for jacks, and blue water fishing for dorado, tuna and wahoo. All of this takes place out of a large resort with excellent accommodation suitable for both anglers and non-fishing partners.
Rate: $4,490 – $4,950.00
Las Salinas / San Lazaro:
If you are looking for a chance to experience some of Cuba’s newest and most diverse saltwater fishing without breaking the bank, this is the place. This is a simple operation that accesses a vast and varied saltwater sanctuary through a long mangrove channel. At the end of the channel, anglers arrive at an enormous bay with endless water and habitat types. This region offer great bonefish and permit flats as well as mangrove habitat for juvenile tarpon. Not only is this location easy to reach from Havana, it is also the best deal in of Cuba!
Rate: $2,600 – $2,990