Everything you need to know about sailing to Santiago De Cuba

12 Mar

Our ferry & Cayo Granma

Last post about Cuba!

I put together a list of things that we were not clear on when arriving in Cuba, mostly about money, internet, and transportation. Hopefully this will help future American boats as they venture into Santiago. This information is current as of March, 2016.

Approaching Cuba

They say you should call the Garuda Frontera when approaching Cuba. I tried this and got no response. I did however have my  AIS transmitting and this seemed to alert the port to our arrival. They had the customs people waiting when we arrived and the Cubans knew where we were when sailing along their coast.

Check in Process

They will want you to come to the dock after the quarantine inspection is finished. You can buy a nice Cuban flag in the city after you get checked in for cheap.

 Marina Rates

$.25 to anchor off the marina and $.45 cents to tie along one of the two piers. The holding seems to be ok. It’s rather deep in the cove beside the marina (50ft). We anchored in about 17ft of water in front and to the left of the marina

Always check your change when eating at the marina and re-check your bill when you check out. We were shorted at every meal and over charged for the marina fees. I think this is yet another hustle.

Check in Fees

We paid 55CUC for the boat plus 25CUC for each visa, valid for 30 days. Thats 105CUC for two people for those of you keeping track. The officials don’t ask for bribes but the health inspector asks for a gift. We gave her a couple of beers.


The all important internet is available from “ETECSA ” hotspots throughout the city and in the hotels. You must purchase a 1 hour card from the phone store in the city center, or buy one from someone off the street. The 1 hour card costs 2CUC in the store and 3CUC if you get it off the street. Depending on the line it may be easier to pay the 1CUC premium. Make sure the plastic wrapping is on the card when you purchase it. Once you have the card you log into the wifi with the password and user number on the card.

Theres a good wifi signal in the “Hotel Casa Grande” right next to the internet card store and down in the park area by the water. Loads of Latino tourists were video chatting while waiting for the ferry. I found no non government wifi networks. To get on you need the card discussed above. Once signed in the speed is decent. Almost as good as a typical marina wifi.

Store hours

Most things are closed on Sundays and about half of everything seems to be closed on Monday. (I think one Monday a month is the factory give away where cubans can go get goods from the factories for free. Ahh Communism…)

Marina Hours

The restaurant is open from 10-4pm. The bar was never open when we were there but the hotel bar just down from the marina seemed to be open most nights till 10. The marina is open 24/7 but they tend to lock the gates after 10pm


1CUC= $.87 or 1.14 Euro

1CUC = 24CUP

The CUC and CUP is worthless outside Cuba so use your extra money to buy rum and beer from the ships store at the marina. (the marina will not take local Pesos so spend all them in the city on your last day)

They charge a 10% fee to change dollars. This may change very soon but be brought Euro.

Changing money

Depending on who’s working at the marina, they will change Euros or Dollars to CUC for you. The bank in center city and some back ally places will also change Euro, Frank, Canadian and Dollars.

Tip: You can change Canadian for the local currency, Pesos National but not Euro or Dollars. Local Pesos are good for buying produce, meat and bread for super cheap. They will not deal in CUC so you have to either get some CUP back as change or covert some Canadian dollars to local.


The ferry departs Punta Gorda at 6am, 12:45 and 5pm. You can take the ferry to the city at 12:45 and return on the 6pm. Each way costs 1CUC.

Electronics to trade.

Cell phones, hard drives, usb chargers, etc. are in great demand by the cuban people. We traded and extra external hard drive for a box of Montecristo cigars and two bottles of rum. I wouldn’t bring a boat load of them (super illegal) but any extras you have on board can be traded or given to the locals.



This article was syndicated from Cruising – Beautiful Crazy Happiness


  1. Addison J Chan

    Things change quickly in Cuba. since March 1, 2016 the visa fee has been increased to $75CUC per person. The rest of the information is good.

  2. Heinz

    Pretty much our experience a few weeks ago. But never got overcharged at any places we visited. We also used local pesos going shopping at markets, ice cream, pizzas, no problem. Local cigars are very good, 25 local pesos for a pack of 25, or 1.5 CUC (because we look like non Cubans); love those!

  3. Firstlast

    Sorry,for me, the monetary units were confusing. You mentioned CUC’s, CUP’s and pesos. $0.25 and $0.45 to anchor/tie up. Is this per foot or flat rate. You mentioned “Frank”? as a monetary unit, but no mention of British Pounds. You mentioned the marina would not accept “pesos”. How does this relate to CUC/CUP.

    The article did have very worthwhile information, especially, concerning AIS surveillance and the subtleties of “surviving on the beach”.

    Be safe

    Thanks for sharing.

Comments are closed.

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