Cuba and its smaller islands have a lot to offer on a sailing holiday. An excellent climate year-round, friendly winds and an unparalleled rustic charm and vibrant lifestyle make the county a wonderful destination for cruises and sailing trips. The island offers an array of natural wonders, with tranquil untouched islands, stunning reefs and a diverse wildlife, while its abundance of cultural heritage and unique easygoing vibe make it one of the top sailing destinations in the Caribbean.
The main yachting hub on Cuba's northern coast is Marina Hemingway in the capital city of Havana, which receives foreign visitors year-round. Other major northern ports are located in Cabo San Antonio and Varadero.
Situated on the island's westernmost tip, on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, Cabo de San Antonio is an entry point to one of Cuba's most stunning biosphere reserves. The area harbours a number of bird and mammal species and is known for its unusual, breathtaking scenery. As Cuba's main bird migration corridor, it attracts countless bird watchers each year, and its pristine black and stone corals, diverse marine life and numerous sunken ships make it a popular destination for diving.
Going east, Havana is the island's culture hub, with countless historic sights and attractions to explore. The UNESCO-protected Old Havana is best explored on foot, with remarkable public spaces, parks and long promenades, commanding harbourside fortresses guarding the bay, striking buildings and stately mansions, and museums telling captivating stories of the Cuban revolution.
To the east of Havana, Varadero offers respite on more than 20 km of beautiful white-sand beaches and untouched cays. The buzzing tourist resort town is a popular stop for scuba diving, deep-sea fishing and exploring the natural wonders of the Hicacos Point Natural Park, home to the Cave of Ambrosio, Mangón Lake with numerous species of birds and reptiles, and scenic virgin forests.
Situated on Cuba's northeastern shore, Baracoa is the oldest Spanish settlement on the island. The bay that seduced Christopher Columbus in 1492 harbours a number of secluded beaches and is a wonderful destination for hiking, with El Yunque, a table-topped hill, offering panoramic views of the area. Baracoa is famed for its vibrant-coloured houses, cocoa trees and delicacies which include white chocolate and cucurucho, a mix of honey, coconut and fresh fruits served in cones of palm bark.
Cuba's south coast has several ports of entry that make excellent starting points for exploring some of the island's most popular destinations: the cities of Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos and the resort island of Cayo Largo del Sur.
Situated in Pinar del Rio province in southwest Cuba, Marina Maria La Gorda is a wonderful destination for divers. With a diving centre and beautiful sandy beach, visitors have a range of options for diving and snorkelling trips, as well as for hiking and discovering the wildlife in the area. Bee hummingbirds, the world's smallest birds, turkey buzzards, and large land crabs are only some of the species that can be seen on the peninsula.
Cayo Largo del Sur, an island in the Canarreos Archipelago off Cuba’s south coast, is a natural haven with some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Playa Sirena has full-service facilities for tourists, while Playa Paraiso is a spectacular undeveloped beach regularly voted one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Beach activities on the island include water sports, a dolphin attraction, and watching colourful tropical fish. Visitors can also watch three kinds of sea turtles as they lay their eggs on the beaches between April and September.
Cienfuegos is the main yachting destination on Cuba’s south coast. The energetic city provides opportunities for discovering the real local culture at every corner. As the only city in Cuba founded by the French, Cienfuegos looks and feels slightly different than other larger cities, with a unique urban layout, wider streets, and neoclassical buildings that earned the historic city centre the designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marina Cienfuegos is a great base for local bay excursions and deep sea fishing trips. It is located near several clubs where tourists can mingle with the locals and enjoy the city's nightlife.
Manzanillo, a port city in the Granma province in southeast Cuba, is another good place to spend a leisurely couple of days. Parque Céspedes in the city centre hosts concerts on Sundays and the nearby Museo Histórico Municipal offers a history lesson on the times of the conquistadores and the revolution. Manzanillo is not a major tourist destination but offers visitors a chance to experience the authentic local life and explore the restaurants, bars, nightclubs and open-air entertainment throughout the year.
Situated in the southeastern part of the island, Santiago de Cuba is Cuba’s second largest city and one of the most visited destinations in the region. The birthplace of the Bacardi brand and home to some of the country’s best-known musicians, the city is famous for its traditional dances, Afro-Cuban culture, and variety of architectural styles, ranging from Baroque to neoclassical. Santiago harbours Cuba’s first cathedral and the UNESCO-protected San Pedro de la Roca Castle, an imposing 17th-century fortress overlooking the bay. The Baconao Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere Reserve, is located about 60 km from the city and offers a rich variety of natural and historic attractions to explore, from coffee plantations and volcanic rocks to life-size dinosaur models and small-scale car replicas. The park stretches across a staggering 849 square kilometres.