Travel Cuba in Style - Yachting!
Discover a Caribbean paradise on this Cuba yacht tour on the islands of southern Cuba, far from any crowds but rich in learning and discovery! Sail with us aboard an exclusive Cuban catamaran to the Canarreos Archipelago to kayak, snorkel and explore this island wonderland. Crystal clear waters where the healthiest reef systems of the entire Caribbean beckon us below to observe multiple species of tropical fish and coral and even sunken ships! On the surface we choose different routes each day based on your interests. We also bring a couple of stand up paddle boards on this yacht trip for those wishing to explore. As we paddle, the rich island bird-life captures our attention. Egrets, herons, gulls and osprey to name a few. We also see land iguanas and, on the island of Cayo Antiles, the only monkeys in Cuba!
You will not miss Havana! Our Cuba yacht tour ends on the sea but begins in Havana where mix in some walking tours of the city, enjoy a classic car ride, visit famous museums and spend some time highly-respected marine biologists that share their knowledge of the reefs and islands we’ll be visiting.
From Havana we head southeast to the “Pearl of the South,” Cienfuegos, and board our private catamaran limited to just six-eight passengers per departure. This is a fantastic adventure filled with meaningful interactions with local Cuban people!
We set sail at night and in the morning awake to start our week of island paddling, learning, snorkeling and more. In the words of guide book author Christopher Baker, the islands here are “Sprinkled like diamonds across a sapphire sea” and are “a yachting and diving paradise.” Most of the islands we explore are only accessible by boat, and few make it to this remote corner of Cuba. We visit a biological research station, a remote beach restaurant, mangrove lagoons and white-sand beaches with silk-soft sand. At the end of our Cuba catamaran tour, we return to Cienfuegos where direct flights return you to the USA.
*Transfers back to Havana (3 hours) can also be arranged.
Images & Videos
Commercial flights from the United States to Cuba are the standard mode of travel between the two countries. We ask that our guests book their own travel between the U.S. and Cuba. This tour will begin in Havana at approximately 11:00 AM on Day 1. Our meeting point on Day 1 will be Havana's Jose Marti International Airport where your Tour Leader and local guides will meet you to begin your tour.
If you are unable to fly all the way to Havana on Day 1 with an arrival before 11:00 AM, we recommend that you consider a "Day 0" for your tour and choose either of the following:
Travel to Havana on Day 0. With this option, we recommend that you overnight in a casa particular (a private home with rooms for rent) of your choosing and make your way back to the Havana Airport to meet your Tour Leader, guides, and fellow travelers the next morning.
Travel to Miami on Day 0. With this option, we recommend that you overnight in Miami and take a flight to Havana on the morning of Day 1.
We are happy to offer guidance with scheduling your travel to and from Cuba, and our office staff is ready to answer any questions you may have.
Note: Travel in Cuba requires a flexible attitude. Our days are full, and as required by U.S. law, we have a full-time agenda of Support for the Cuban People activities. Cuba has it’s own beat and things don’t always run on time. The activities and visits listed are not guaranteed but we endeavor to do our best to provide the content intent of this SUpport for the Cuban People program. Visiting developing countries can be eye-opening and life-changing, and hopefully visiting Cuba is both. Accommodations may not be up to the standards you are used to. Sometimes the hot water or air conditioning doesn’t work. We ask all our guests to appreciate the authenticity of your cultural encounters as well as the people, food, culture, and adventures that are exceptional in their difference. Our local guide, along with your Cuba Unbound Tour Leader promise to do their best to make this a fascinating and enlightening experience.
Environmental Research Center and Havana
Our first stop on the Cuba yacht tour is at Cuba’s most renowned environmental education and research center where we meet our first guest-lecturer. We are introduced to the area where we will be traveling by yacht, and learn about Cuba’s national preservation system of natural areas and particularly, marine conservation areas. In addition, we learn about joint Cuba-US marine research projects that have been going on many years.
After lunch we have an information and intriguing walking tour of old Havana. Mostly a pedestrian area due to the narrow streets, dozens of colonial buildings tell tales of swashbuckling invaders and eager colonists seeking to both sow and reap the island’s many rewards. We visit the classic Plaza de la Catedral, charming and oozing-with-history Plaza de Armas, serenely beautiful Plaza de San Francisco and the carefully-restored Plaza Vieja. Our local guide spins yarns and intriguing facts to bring to life these historic, yet relevant places that anchor the city.
Later in the afternoon we check into our hotel and then head for dinner at one of the city’s finer paladars (private restaurants) where you enjoy a Cuban feast. After dinner, those with energy may wish to enjoy some of Havana’s lively music scene, perhaps with a visit to the ultra-hip Fabrique de Artes Cubana, or a jazz or salsa club.
Research Center, Art Project, Museum of the Revolution
We return in the morning to learn more from our friends and mentors at the research center to prepare us better for life on a Cuba catamaran. Today we drill down into more specifics regarding some of the marine species we are likely to encounter, notably including various fish and corals. Because of the lack of development along Cuba’s coastline, the waters surrounding the islands are the healthiest in the entire Caribbean. Fidel Castro was an avid scuba diver and led an effort to conserve some of the most remarkable reef areas.
After our morning educational sessions, we head a bit further west to visit the art project of Fusterlandia, created by Jose Fuster. An entire neighborhood is adorned with his colorful mosaics and creations inspired by Gaudy and Picasso. We enjoy lunch at a nearby paladar. Then it’s time to learn about Cuba’s history with an excellent guided tour of the Museum of the Revolution. The story of Cuba’s political scene prior to 1959, and the ultimate victory of the Revolution is told through a series of rooms with photographs and memorabilia.
We return to the hotel, and a bit later meet for dinner at another fabulous paladar to talk about the upcoming Cuba yachting adventure. After dinner there’s time to stroll along the malecon, Havana’s social center with beautiful views of the sea and city skyline.
Finca Vigia, Transfer to Cienfuegos, Catamaran Orientaiton and Embarkment
After breakfast we step back in time with a visit to Ernest Hemingway’s house, Finca Vigia, where the author lived for almost 20 years and wrote some of his most famous works. It seems the author walked away just last week, as his books, papers and furnishings rest as if waiting for his return. From here we leave Havana, driving on the main road southeast towards Cienfuegos. On the way we stop at the Criadero de Cocodrillos, a project run by Cuba’s Flora y Fauna (similar to the US National Park Service) that breeds the rare and endemic Cuban crocodile.
On arrival in Cienfuegos, we have a guided walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage designated city. In 1819, under the blessing of the Spanish crown, 137 French settlers arrived, coming from Louisiana and the Bordeaux region of France, to settle the city. The deep-water port became the economic engine of this charismatic city that is the port for our comfortable Cuba catamaran. In the late afternoon we board our home for the next six days, have an orientation briefing and dinner, and later in the night (weather permitting) set out under the Caribbean sky, heading southwest on our Cuban yacht to the beautiful archipelago.
Joining us is our Cuban captain and sailor. Over the next six days there will be plenty of time to learn about their lives and thoughts about Cuba, its history, culture and politics. This is the ultimate in meaningful interaction with Cuban people as our small group has these special days to converse and learn. As we travel, we experience pristine reefs, beautiful optics, disconnection from the distractions of daily life and paddles that can be easily tailored to your interests and skill levels.
First Day at Sea, Kayking in Islands
We awaken at anchor, set among a tranquil bay for our first glimpse at this spectacular marine ecosystem. After breakfast we cruise a bit further, then lower kayaks into the water for our first paddle in the islands. We continue a bit further west before finding a suitable anchorage for the night. The day ends with what will now be our end-of-day routine. A celebratory beverage while watching the sunset, followed by dinner on board and then a deep slumber in the Cuba catamaran.
Meals on board are fresh, delicious and bountiful. Our captain and sailor double as cook and server, providing typical Cuban meals of fresh seafood such as fish and lobster, rice, salads and more. There’s a full-bar on board and they also mix-up thirst-quenching mojitos, Cuba libres and other favorites.
Yachting, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Cayo Largo
For four more days, we yacht among the islands of the Cuban archipelago. Weather and winds determine our exact stopping points and itinerary. We stop on sugar-white beaches. We paddle among mangroves to the rhythm of bird song and on waters the color of turquoise and jade. We stop at Cayo Largo to visit a biological research station and meet the local scientists to learn about their work and discoveries. This is where Henry Morgon, the legendary English privateer, brought his ship for repairs and in the area are several sunken galleons.
From Cayo Largo we head further west to explore and anchor at Cayo Rico, Cayo Iguana, Cayo del Rosario and Cayo Cantiles. Our days are mixed with paddling, snorkeling, beachcombing and relaxing on board. By Thursday we turn the Cuba catamaran back to the east, stopping as we journey when a remote cove beckons.
Return to Port at Cienfuegos
We have started our return to the east towards Cienfuegos. By late afternoon we’ve started our 8-10 hour crossing across the Caribbean, arriving in Cienfuegos in the wee dawn of Saturday morning to end this incredible Cuba yacht tour.
It’s time to pack up and move off the boat by 11:00 am. We will provide one ground transfer up to Santa Clara for return flights to the US. Santa Clara is served once-a-day for both JetBlue and American Airlines. For those returning to Havana we will arrange transportation (three hours, not included) and if desired, overnight accommodations.
Or, even better, join one of our weekly land-based tours! We offer a sea kayaking tour, or a multisport tour starting on Sundays, a walking tour featuring Cuba’s National Parks on Saturdays, or two different bicycle tours that also start on Saturdays. If you combine two tours we offer a 10% discount!
Dates & Rates
Please Inquire for 2024 Dates and Rates.
Note: Weather conditions dictate exactly what stops and distances we are able to cover. Every trip is somewhat unique, but we do our best to include those places we consider highlights. A flexible attitude will enhance your enjoyment of the trip.
- Experienced English-speaking guide(s)
- Specialized activity guides based on activity of trip (kayaking, walking, etc.)
- Specialized equipment needed for activities such as kayaks, paddles, personal flotation devices, etc.
- Private pre-tour orientation meeting
- Cuba Unbound hand-crafted itineraries
- Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
- All meals as noted in itinerary
- Certification of travel to Cuba under the U.S. Department of Treasury general license
- Small group size (Custom tours for 2, group tours are 16-18)
- All entrance fees to include events and activities
- All in-country ground transportation
- Clean drinking water available at all times
- Gratuities for presenters, luggage handling, and restaurant staff
- Cuba Visa (a $80-120 value)
- Round-trip air to/from Cuba
- Transfers to and from the airport in Cuba
- Guide and driver gratuities
- Personal expenses such as souvenirs, gifts, additional drinks/entertainment, and incidentals
FAQ & More
Whether you are an avid sea kayaker or stepping into a sea kayak for your first time, you’ll enjoy these incredible trips. For those new to the sport, kayaking is easy to learn in the sheltered waters that we visit, and we provide all of the kayaking equipment and guidance needed. In addition, we keep our groups small so that you not only travel intimately among nature, but receive the necessary attention from our guides as well. Your guides will give you an introduction to paddling and you’ll have plenty of chances to practice. We take plenty of paddle breaks to observe the biodiversity and learn about the area from our knowledgeable guides. We do recommend that you get some paddling in before your trip as kayaking uses muscles you may not know you have. Getting a little experience and building some strength will help your enjoyment of the trip.
We have both double and single kayaks in Cuba. At this time we are not offering the choice for a single kayak rental. Rather, we plan to bring between one and three singles on each tour to be shared among participants, depending on expressed interest.
All of the kayaking equipment is provided as well as personal flotation devices and dry bags. Just bring your clothing and personal gear. Do bring snorkeling gear and gloves. A complete packing list will be sent to you upon reservation. We highly suggest traveling “light” for this adventure.
While snorkel gear is sometimes available for rent in Cuba, we advise that you bring your own snorkel and mask (fins and wet-suits not required). Your own equipment also ensures a better fit and better hygiene, as well as prescriptions if needed.
Meals on board are fresh, delicious and bountiful. Our captain and sailor double as cook and server, providing typical Cuban meals of fresh seafood such as fish and lobster, rice, simple salads and more. There’s a full-bar on board and they also mix-up thirst-quenching mojitos, Cuba libres and other favorites.
Yes, you can travel to Cuba as a US citizen! Although, the United States is the only country that restricts its citizens from traveling to Cuba for touristic reasons, however, the U.S. does allow travel to Cuba under one of 12 permitted travel categories. Of these categories, most of our travelers are traveling under either "Support for the Cuban People" or "Educational People-to-People" travel.
For more information on Cuba travel entry requirements, please see here.
Generally it's best to drink filtered tap water or bottled water. In an effort to reduce the use of single-use plastic, we encourage you to pack a wide-mouth water bottle with a filter built in. There are many brands available.
If you are getting a drink at a hotel bar, or other bar establishment, the ice is most likely made with filtered or bottled water, so should not cause any issues.
Cubans pride themselves on proper hygiene and food handling. The restaurants we use on our tours are very good and eating any salads or raw vegetables that are served is fine.