Trip Overview 
Located on the north shore in the eastern province of Camaguey, the Cayo Cruz and Cayo Romano fisheries collectively form an enormous system of flats, lagoons and pristine estuaries. Commercial fishing within this designated area is strictly forbidden and rigorously enforced - one of the reasons why the flats fishing is so good. The sportfishing-only area is 280 square miles in size, meaning that on the average day, each skiff has over 30 square miles to itself. This huge area represents one of the cleanest and most biologically diverse ecosystems in the entire region. This destination is still pretty much untouched and has only seen anglers for the past four seasons. Beyond the exceptional flats fishing, guests need to keep in mind that this is a new fishery still very much in its infancy. Nonetheless, the fish are usually plentiful and aggressive. 
 
The flats on the northern side of the main island of Cuba present an inviting combination of hard-packed white sand and a semi-firm mottled bottom that still provides good wading. And what a place this is for those who like to wade! It’s very similar to Los Roques, Venezuela in terms of the vast area that’s wadable. There are places here where you can wade for hours without ever heading back to the skiff. Cayo Cruz and Cayo Romano waters demonstrate all the characteristics of a recently-discovered, virgin fishing territory – large numbers of fish, good size and an evident lack of exposure to flies and leaders. Add to this the natural beauty of the cays and water and you have a truly memorable place to fish.

The average bonefish weighs in at a healthy three to four pounds. During the course of a week, it is not unheard of for anglers to land a fish or two in the eight-pound-plus range. Tailing bonefish are common and guests can expect to see bonefish in singles and doubles, all the way up to schools of several hundred fish. What really sets this location apart from so many other fisheries is that guests can expect to encounter and get shots at good numbers of permit each day as well. There are very few places on earth where guests can fish for big bonefish each day and also get shots at tailing permit. This combination may occur in other locations, but not with the consistency seen at Cayo Cruz and Cayo Romano. It is a rare day when you don’t encounter and get shots at permit. The permit will range in size from approximately eight to 30 pounds. The flats at Cayo Cruz are a little deeper than those found in other regions of Cuba, which means bonefish and permit are found in excellent numbers throughout the year.
 
For all Cayo Romano trips, we book the Avalon Fleet I mothership. This distinct vessel guarantees guests exciting and exclusive access to the Cayo Romano and Cayo Cruz areas.  The atmosphere was conceived and executed to provide guests the finest live-aboard experience in the Caribbean. The yacht is intimate, comfortable and stylishly-designed; each space is created to provide guests with maximum comfort and safety. Maximum capacity is 18 passengers and eight crew members, although each week aboard the yacht is limited to eight to ten anglers in order to provide comfort and privacy. The yacht is characterized by a touch of refinement with the perfect balance of noble style. The yacht is outfitted with eight deluxe king cabins, seven private bathrooms, and staterooms with air conditioning and heat controls, electricity plugs, and plenty of strorage. A panoramic window spans each room, allowing guests to enjoy the Caribbean view expanding endlessly before them.

Email info [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com or call 888-777-5060 for more details.

Destination Quick Facts 

LOCATION:  Camaguey, Cuba

SEASON:  November through early July

CAPACITY:  Maximum group of 10 anglers per week

CLOSEST MAJOR AIR HUB:  Havana, Cuba (HAV)

TARGET SPECIES:  Bonefish and permit, with some possibilities for tarpon, snook, jacks, snapper, barracuda and more

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:  Valid passport and a Cuban visa are required for citizens of most countries. 

CONTACT US FOR MORE INFO     888-777-5060     INTL 01-1-406-585-8667       info [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com

ACCOMMODATIONS

Lodging Details
For all Cayo Cruz trips, we book the Avalon Fleet I mothership. This distinct vessel guarantees guests a pleasant, exciting and exclusive voyage through the Cayo Cruz area.  The atmosphere was conceived and executed to provide guests the finest live-aboard experience in the Caribbean. The yacht is intimate, comfortable and stylishly-designed; each space is created to provide guests with maximum comfort and safety. 

Maximum capacity is 18 passengers and eight crew members, although each week aboard the yacht is limited to eight to 10 anglers in order to provide comfort and privacy. Aboard the ship there are eight (8) deluxe king cabins (all with queen-sized beds) with seven (7) private bathrooms. The staterooms accompanying each cabin feature air conditioning and heat controls, electricity plugs, and plenty of strorage space. A panoramic window spans each room, allowing guests to enjoy the Caribbean view expanding endlessly before them. A spacious and comfortable lounge, dining room and bar area on the upper deck offers space for relaxed socializing and dining. There is also a hot tub and a indoor lounge outfitted with excellent visual and audio equipment. 

Food and Beverages
The galley aboard the Avalon Fleet I takes great pride in serving amazing Cuban food, fresh seafood, and a variety of international dishes. Breakfasts are cooked-to-order each morning. Lunches can either be packed for a full day on the flats, or guests have the option to return to the ship mid-day to eat and relax. All dinners are served with international wines, local liquors and desserts. 

Typical Length of Stay
The structured package is seven (7) nights / six (6) fishing days. A normal week includes five full days of fishing and one or two half days, depending on your schedule and ground/air transfers on arrival and departure days. Additional days in Havana or on other parts of the island can easily be arranged and itineraries can be fully customized. Combo trips between Cayo Cruz and other fishing areas can also be arranged. Please contact Yellow Dog for more details. 

Non-Angling Activities and Options
This is a remote, live-aboard operation located in the mangrove and saltwater wilderness of the Cayo Cruz area. Non-angling activities are very limited. Overall this destination is best suited for anglers.

Internet/Communications
Wi-Fi is not available aboard the Avalon Fleet I, which means that once you board the ship, you will be offline and totally unplugged (something that is getting hard to find these days). Check with your cell service provider to see if your U.S. cell phone will work in Cuba.  "World Phones" can be used and are a very affordable option. Also, satellite phones are strictly prohibited in Cuba and will be confiscated at the airport on arrival. Also, satellite phones are strictly prohibited in Cuba and will be confiscated at the airport on arrival.

FISHING

General Fishing Information
Located on the north shore of the eastern province of Camaguey, the Cayo Cruz fishery is an enormous system of flats, lagoons and pristine estuaries. Located in Jardines del Rey (Gardens of the King), commercial fishing within this designated area is strictly forbidden and rigorously enforced. The sportfish-only area is 366 square kilometers in size, meaning that on the average day, each skiff has over 50 square kilometers to itself. The fishing area is virtually untouched and represents one of the cleanest and most biologically diverse ecosystems in the Caribbean. This is one of the primary reasons we have chosen this destination. It is still more or less untouched and has only seen a handful of anglers for a few seasons. The fish are plentiful and aggressive. Cayo Cruz is also privileged in having an extensive string of cays on its northern border which protects it from all but the most violent of weather patterns. 

The flats present an inviting combination of hard-packed white sand and a semi-firm mottled bottom that still provides good wading. And what a place this is for those who like to wade! It’s very similar to Los Roques, Venezuela in terms of the vast area that’s wadable; there are places here where you can wade for hours without heading back to the boat. Cayo Cruz demonstrates all the characteristics of a recently-discovered, virgin fishing territory – large numbers of fish, good sizes and their evident lack of exposure to flies and leaders. Add to this the natural beauty of the cays and water and you have a truly memorable place to fish.

The average bonefish weighs in at a healthy three to four pounds. During the course of a week, it is not unheard of for anglers to land a fish or two in the eight-pound-plus range. Tailing bonefish are common and guests can expect to see bonefish in singles and doubles, all the way up to schools of several hundred fish. What really sets this location apart from so many other fisheries is that guests can expect to encounter and get shots at good numbers of permit each day as well. There are very few places on earth where guests can fish for big bonefish each day and also get shots at tailing permit. This combination may occur in other locations, but not with the consistency seen at Cayo Cruz. It is a rare day when you don’t encounter and get shots at permit. The permit will range in size from approximately eight to 30 pounds. The flats at Cayo Cruz are a little deeper than those found in other regions of Cuba, which means bonefish and permit are found in excellent numbers throughout the year. Aside from the exceptional flats fishing, guests need to keep in mind that this is a new fishery still very much in its infancy. Nonetheless, the fish are usually plentiful and aggressive. 

Two locations within the Cayo Cruz area offer very good tarpon fishing. Guides tend to save these areas for when an angler has already boated a permit and is looking for a Grand Slam. These fish will range from 30 to 90 pounds. Besides the fishing for permit, bonefish and tarpon, you will also cast for other challenging species as mutton snapper, snook, cubera snapper, jack crevalle, and barracuda.

Cayo Cruz has only been in operation for three years and has not seen many clients, particularly when compared to other locations in the Caribbean that offer this quality of fishing. Prior to Avalon establishing a program on Cayo Cruz, the area guides did not work under Avalon management. Improving guides’ language and guiding skills has been a major goal in this fantastic location. Avalon has worked Cayo Cruz guides into the rotation with their more experienced Cayo Largo guides to quickly bring them up to the same standards. In addition, Avalon assigned several veteran guides with decades of experience to train and develop the new guides. While the guides continue to improve every year, right now Cayo Cruz offers a virtually untouched flats oasis that is teeming with fish and wildlife. What these guides lack in experience they more than make up for in hard work and enthusiasm.

Each morning, skiffs will depart the Avalon Fleet 1 and head to any number of areas for the day. From Cayo Paredon Grande in the north to Cayo Guanaja in the south, there are countless islands, lagoons and bays that will keep anglers happy and on fish throughout the day. Much of the fishing takes place in the areas between the island and the mainland, in and around the massive island of Cayo Cruz. The average boat run to the fishing areas can range anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes in length and in some areas, you will be fishing within minutes of leaving the yacht. The run time depends on where your guide wants to take you that day and what your requests are. With more than 50 square kilometers of fishing area available per boat, the options are just about limitless. There are so many great aspects to this fishery that it can truly be a sensory overload at times.

Boats and Equipment 
The fishing boats used by Avalon are Dolphin Super Skiffs outfitted with Yamaha 60 or 70HP motors. Radios and life jackets are carried aboard every skiff. While Avalon adverstises a limited number of rental fly rods and reels available on some of their live-aboards, we very much recommend that anglers always bring their own equipment.  Flies, leaders, tippet, all terminal tackle and all accessories should be packed as well, as very few items are available anywhere in Cuba. Yellow Dog will provide a complete pre-trip packing and equipment list for fishing Cuba.

TRAVEL DETAILS

How To Get There  
Since your Avalon package begins upon arrival into Havana's Jose Marti International Airport (HAV), you can arrive from just about any place in the world. There are numerous daily flights in and out of Havana direct from many U.S. cities, Mexico, Canada, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Italy, and numerous other countries. U.S. guests may choose to fly to Havana from Mexico, which is a relatively quick and easy trip. Upon arrival into Havana (HAV), you will clear immigration and customs before heading to the main reception area of the airport, where you will be met by an awaiting representative from Avalon. From the airport, you will be transferred via taxi to a hotel in downtown Havana, where you will overnight before departing for Cayo Coco and Cayo Cruz the next morning. With this trip, you can either travel by private vehicle or you can fly from Havana to Cayo Coco. The flight is approximately one hour in length, and the drive (via private vehicle) takes approximately seven hours. You can choose with mode of transportation you would like when booking your trip.

Arrival and Departure Details / Times 
Anglers typically fly into Havana's Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) on a Friday, whereupon they overnight in the city. The next morning, a bus will depart the hotel in Havana for either the airport (where travelers catch a domestic flight to Cayo Coco) or for the drive to Cayo Coco. Depending on your return flight time to Havana, you may have the option of fishing for several hours in the morning before departing the Avalon Fleet I for the return trip to Havana. You usually arrive back at the hotel in Havana later that evening. Many visitors choose to add an extra day or two in the city to explore Havana and the surrounding areas.

Documents Required
A valid passport is required for all visitors to Cuba and must be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the duration of your stay. Citizens of the United States are also required to have Visas with proof of authorization to travel under one of the 12 approved categories of travel. A Cuban entrance visa can be secured when checking in for your direct flight to Havana.

Travel Arrangements
Yellow Dog offers a full in-house travel and reservations system and can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact us at 888-777-5060 or travel [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services and trip insurance.

RATES

Package Rates
Remember that Yellow Dog's services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter. Prices listed below are per person and quoted in US Dollars (USD). 

Prices listed below are the total costs for chartering the entire Avalon Fleet I yacht. This package includes eight (8) clients per week with four (4) skiffs/guides. All accommodations are in single staterooms.  Prices below reflect costs for chartering the entire boat for seven (7) nights. Groups of ten (10) can also work on the boat, with six anglers in private staterooms and four anglers at double occupancy. A fifth skiff/guide will be added for groups of ten.

Group of 10 Anglers = $8,840.00 per person

What’s Included

  • All transfers inside Cuba as outlined in the Cayo Cruz 
  • Land and air transfers to/from Havana to Cayo Largo (These transfers will be booked by Yellow Dog through Avalon.)
  • Two (2) nights accommodation in double room in 5-star hotel in Havana (on arrival and departure nights) 
  • Seven (7) nights on Avalon Fleet I in single occupancy stateroom
  • Three meals per day while aboard Avalon Fleet I
  • Six (6) full days of guided fishing (two people per skiff)
  • Beverages on board to include ten (10) beers and thirty (30) bottled water or soft drinks (of national production)
  • All taxes and GSTs

What’s Not Included

  • International flights to Havana (HAV)(can be arranged through Yellow Dog)
  • Meet-and-greet V.I.P. reception upon arrival in Havana's Jose Marti International Airport (HAV)
  • Visa
  • Cost of taxi transfers from Havana Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) to hotel in Havana on arrival and departure days
  • Meals, drinks, taxis and any additional expenses while in Havana
  • Fishing tackle, equipment, flies and all terminal tackle (Bring it all with you!)
  • Gratuities for guides and staff (must be paid in cash with CUCs) 
  • Other items of a personal nature

Trip Deposit and Trip Cancelation Information 
For all Cuba trips less than 90 days out, full payment is required to secure guides and reservations. For trips outside of 90 days, a 70% deposit is required within 10 days to hold and confirm reservations. Payment for all Cuba trip must be made in US dollars and can be made using check, money order or wire transfer only (no credit card payments for Cuba trips will be accepted and PLEASE do not write 'Cuba' in the memo of checks). Any cancellations on Cuba trips will incur a $250.00 Yellow Dog handling fee regardless of timing. Passport number, date of birth and full name (as printed in passport) is required to confirm any Cuba reservation. Outside of 180 days from start of trip, deposits are refundable minus an $800 Cuban operator handling fee, which will be held and retained by the operators unless trip is resold. Inside of 180 days of start date of trip, all deposits and payments are non-refundable unless Yellow Dog or Cuban operator are able to resell your spot(s). No refunds are available for unused portions of packages. Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended. Please note that credit card payments cannot be accepted for any incidentals or expenses once in Cuba. All programs and execution of programs remain subject to weather and other unforeseen circumstances. Claims for refunds from Cuban operators will not be accepted.

OTHER INFO

Currency and Credit Cards in Cuba
You can easily exchange money at the airport or at any bank for Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUCs). The best currency to bring on your trip to Cuba is either Euros or Canadian Dollars. Presently there is a 10% penalty in addition to the exchange rate for US dollar exchanges, although this may change in the near future. The Avalon Fleet I DOES NOT accept credit cards aboard the ship and you will need cash for all purchases, bar tabs and gratuities. At the present time, US credit cards do not work anywhere in Cuba, although this is expected to change in the near future. This will be applicable while in Havana and traveling throughout the country.

Laundry Services
Laundry services are available onboard the Avalon Fleet I and laundry can be done on a daily basis. This means that you can travel and pack light. We suggest leaving a gratuity for the housekeepers at the end of the week for laundry services.

Beverages On Board
It is recommended that you drink only bottled and purified water while in Cuba. During you stay on the Avalon Fleet I, you have a total allotment of 10 beers and 30 non-alcoholic drinks (bottled water or soda) that will be included in your base package price. Beyond those numbers, the staff on the ship will be happy to keep an open and running bar tab for you, payable at the end of the week. Bar tabs must be paid in cash (in CUCs). 

CUBA F.A.Q.s

CUBA:
Frequently Asked Questions

As new rules take effect and the restoration of diplomatic relations thaw, the situation and what it means for traveling anglers will continue to evolve and change. Below are some specific answers to common questions about the new rules:

Can anyone travel to Cuba now?
No. General tourism is still technically banned. Shortly after the landmark announcements of December 2014, however, the US Treasury and Commerce Departments unveiled new rules that further ease travel to and trade restrictions with Cuba, thereby greatly expanding the leeway applicable to US travelers visiting the island. One of the most notable changes is that Americans will no longer be required to obtain pre-approval from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before embarking on a trip to Cuba. As long as Americans certify that they are traveling in one of 12 legal and approved categories — which include educational, religious, people-to-people, scientific, journalistic and humanitarian trips — they can simply head to the island without applying for permission in advance of their trip. Traveling to Cuba solely as a tourist (or an angler), remains prohibited UNLESS you qualify for one of the 12 approved categories. We can assist in obtaining a legitimate People-to-People License allowing for legal travel to Cuba as an American.  Obtaining this license allows you to buy airline tickets and make travel arrangements through any travel service or airline that provides services to Cuba, including Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures.

How can I buy an airline ticket?
The new regulations allow agents and airlines to sell tickets to travelers to Cuba as long as they can demonstrate that they have a specific license from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Yellow Dog can help you obtain a license once you have booked your trip to Cuba with Yellow Dog.

We are already seeing US air carriers selling flights to Cuba directly from major US cities (including Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, Baltimore, Dallas-Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico). We expect more routes to open and new services to be announced in the months ahead as direct flights begin their services direct to Havana.

For now, most of the direct US-to-Havana flights are being operated by third-party charter companies. US air carriers like American, Delta, Jet Blue, Sun Country and several others already operate chartered flights to the island. Currently, direct flights are available between many US cities and destinations outside of Havana and across Cuba (Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Camaguey, Cayo Coco and Varadero) which will make getting to and from Cuba much easier. Direct flights between many US cities and Havana will start operating in the fall of 2016 which will make getting to Cuba much easier.

For now, anglers wishing to book their own travel to Cuba can book one of the direct US-to-Havana charter flights. If you would like Yellow Dog to book your flights, we can assist with the process and provide guidance for you based on your departure city. Please contact Yellow Dog for more information on flights and travel, and please be aware that this is something that is changing and being updated on a frequent basis! Things are changing fast.

How many cigars and bottles of rum can I bring back if I travel to Cuba? 
As of October of 2016, the US has removed limits on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from Cuba.

How can I fly from the U.S. to Cuba?
Most of the direct US-to-Havana flights are being operated by third-party charter companies. US air carriers like American, Delta, Jet Blue, Sun Country and several others already operate chartered flights to the island. Currently, direct flights are available between many US cities and destinations outside of Havana and across Cuba (Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Camaguey, Cayo Coco and Varadero) which will make getting to and from Cuba much easier. Direct flights between many US cities and Havana will start operating in the fall of 2016 which will make getting to Cuba much easier.

Can I use my American Express, Visa or MasterCard when I go to Cuba?
Yes, eventually. It will take time for banks to establish the infrastructure needed to handle credit and debit cards in Cuba. Travelers should first check with their credit card companies to find out when such services might begin. It is worth noting that travelers are now able to use some US credit and debit cards in Cuba, with more coming on-line in the near future. There is no longer a per diem rate for how much visitors can spend once they reach the island. All this being said, there are few places that will actually ACCEPT your credit cards, so Yellow Dog still recommends that you carry cash for eventualities.

Can I purchase trip insurance and Global Rescue policies for my trip to Cuba?
Yes! US. travel and trip insurers are now authorized to provide coverage for travel insurance policies for individuals who travel to or within Cuba. In fact, Yellow Dog recommends that you make this investment into protection for your trip and is happy to get the process started for you.

Is it safe to walk around Havana?
Cuba is known as one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean, but as should be the case everywhere, common sense should be taken into account for your own safety. It is recommended that you leave flashy jewelry at home, refrain from showing large quantities of cash in public, and not accept rides or buy things from unknown people in the streets. In general, be prudent and be smart.

What is the currency situation in Cuba?
There are two types of currency in Cuba: 1.) The Cuban peso that can only be used by Cubans in places that require it, and, 2.) the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) that is used in all restaurants, stores, museums, hotels, etc. The CUC is basically the tourist currency and the official currency of Cuba. US dollars are widely accepted in Cuba, but CUC’s are preferred.

How do I purchase a Cuban entrance visa?
Visas / tourist cards are available for purchase in advance of your trip to Cuba and is largely dependent on how you plan to get to Cuba. The visa ranges in price from $25 to $100 and Yellow Dog can guide you through the process of the best means of obtaining your visa based on your travel plans.

What is the departure tax when leave Cuba?
The departure tax is now part of the airline ticket price. You do not need to pay any departure tax upon leaving Cuba.