Fly Fishing the Permit Capital of Cuba
A fishery that has become known as the permit capital of Cuba! Situated in the south-central region of the Cuban Archipelago, Cayo Largo (“Long Key”) is one of the finest permit fishing destinations that we have found anywhere in the Caribbean. The island itself offers 17 miles of picture-perfect, white sandy beaches. Upon arrival, you will be surprised to find a natural flats environment that has remained totally unchanged and largely untouched for hundreds of years. The incredible Cayo Largo fishery came under the management of Avalon Fishing Centers in 2008 and has since developed into a fantastic permit and bonefish destination (with some tarpon in the area as well). The fishing season runs from November through August. The beginning of the season from November to January is very good, with plenty of bonefish (especially big ones) on the flats and permit found in strong numbers. Fishing for tarpon and other species can also be good. Peak fishing season is from February to June when all species are present in the area. The typical package to Cayo Largo is seven (7) nights / six (6) fishing days and starting early in 2020 will be based on Jardines Avalon I (a live aboard boat) with a maximum of 12 anglers on any given week.
Most packages on Cayo Largo include a stay at the Hotel Sol Cayo Largo, a large-scale, full-service, all-inclusive beach resort located on the southern shore of Cayo Largo del Sur. Located only five minutes from the island’s Vino Acuña International Airport (CYO), the resort offers a total of 296 rooms, all built with a view of the ocean and situated on a bluff that overlooks the pristine beaches of the island. The resort offers an all-inclusive experience, with several different restaurants, bars, social areas, lounge areas, and swimming pools. Rooms are air-conditioned and spacious, and all offer direct access to the beaches and the pools of the resort. Daily housekeeping is included, and concierge staff can assist with any special requests. All meals, drinks and even your bar tab are included in these packages. This is basically the Cuban/European version of an all-inclusive mega-resort, and the overall scene can at times be a bit humorous. That said, the fishing program itself is one of the finest, most well-run programs we have found anywhere. Each morning a shuttle van will pick up anglers from in front of the main lobby entrance and shuttle the group to the island’s marina area, located only ten minutes from the hotel. This is where the Avalon Fishing Center and clubhouse is located. All fishing gear, rods, and other equipment can be left at the fishing center for the week, making the daily transfers quick and easy.
Beginning in early 2020, the Cayo Largo fishery will be accessed by a live aboard boat called Jardines Avalon I (JA 1) a 110 foot long mothership with 10 state rooms aboard and ensuite bathrooms.
Food and Beverages
For current Cayo Largo bookings and until the fishery is served from JA 1, all dining (breakfast and dinner) typically takes place at the Hotel Sol Cayo Caribe in one of the resort’s all-inclusive restaurants. The main restaurant always features a full service, expansive buffet. All meals are totally included in your package, and the dinner buffet always includes a full line-up of fruits, vegetables, seafood, meats, bread, desserts and more. The breakfast buffet each morning is equally as expansive, with omelets and eggs cooked-to-order, fruit, bread, meat and much more. Lunch each day is typically packed for your day on the water and includes sandwiches, chips, etc. Back at the resort, the bar tab and all drinks are included in your package!
Typical Length of Stay
The typical package is seven (7) nights / six (6) fishing days. A normal week includes six (6) full days of fishing. Additional days in Havana or on other parts of the island can easily be arranged and itineraries can be customized. Please contact Yellow Dog for more details.
Non-Angling Activities and Options
Cayo Largo is a resort island that has long been popular with European and Canadian vacationers and sun-seekers looking for exclusivity in the midst of a pristine island environment. Snorkeling, scuba diving, beachcombing, and just relaxing on the white sand beach or next to the resort swimming pool are all available to non-anglers. Cayo Largo is very secluded and there are no nearby towns or private residences, making it a great place to get away from it all. Other than a handful of large resorts, there is nothing else on the island.
Internet service is available at the resort’s “business center,” which means that you can check emails while on Cayo Largo. Be aware, however, that the internet service is very slow and at times frustrating. Check with your cell service provider to see if your U.S. cell phone will work in Cuba. Also, satellite phones are strictly prohibited in Cuba and will be confiscated at the airport on arrival.
How To Get There
One of the great benefits to this destination is that Cayo Largo also offers a modern international airport (Vino Acuña International Airport/CYO) where Canadian, European, and South American aircraft can now fly to directly from several international cities. There are three weekly flights directly from Canada and Italy, and it is possible to skip Havana altogether if desired by flying through Canada if originating in the US.
If you opt to book flights via Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV), you can fly in and arrive from just about any place in the world. There are numerous daily flights in and out of Havana from Mexico, Canada, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Italy, and the U.S. Upon arrival into Havana, you will clear immigration and customs before heading to the main reception area of the airport, where you will be met by a representative from Avalon who will be waiting for you. From the airport, you will be transferred via taxi to a hotel in downtown Havana, where you will overnight before departing for Cayo Largo the next morning (Yellow Dog can arrange your hotel nights in Havana for you).
Arrival and Departure Details / Times
Anglers typically fly into Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) on a Friday, where they overnight in the city. The next morning, you will meet in the hotel lobby to board a shuttle for the domestic terminal in Havana, where you will catch a short 30-minute flight to Cayo Largo. Typically, you will arrive mid-morning on Cayo Largo, where you will be greeted by representatives from Avalon and transferred to the Hotel Sol Cayo Largo. On your departure day, your wake-up call will be followed by breakfast and – depending on plane schedules – possibly lunch. You will then be transferred to the Cayo Largo airport for the flight back to Havana and an overnight once again. Many visitors choose to add an extra day or two in the city to explore Havana and the surrounding areas which Yellow Dog can help to arrange.
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 a Cuban entrance visa can be secured when checking in for your direct flight to Cuba. You will be asked to sign an affidavit for your trip to Cuba and determine which OFAC category your trip qualifies for.
For our Cuba trips, Yellow Dog can advise you on flights to book or you may choose to work directly with Kanna Travel. They can assist you with booking airline tickets, trip insurance and medical evacuation membership. Contact them at 855-739-3139 or [email protected] for more details.
General Fishing Information
Cayo Largo (“Long Island”) sits in the south-central region of the Cuban Archipelago and it’s one of the last virtually untouched saltwater ecosystems left on the planet. With 17 miles of fine white sand beaches, the surrounding ocean produces a spectacular kaleidoscope of colors, from incredible shades of ocean blue to the stunning pastels of turquoise and green. Cayo Largo owes its name to its elongated shape. Around 1494, Christopher Columbus touched upon the island during his second voyage to Cuba. The island was also a favorite stop for the groups of pirates that roamed the Caribbean Sea. The bounty of nature found at Cayo Largo is a well-kept secret. It has pristine coral reefs and is complemented by neighboring keys inhabited by numerous species of flora and fauna, among them iguanas, pelicans, and turtles. When you arrive in Cayo Largo, you will be surprised to find a natural environment that has scarcely changed over the last 1,000 years.
The incredible Cayo Largo flats fishery came under the management of Avalon Fishing Center in 2008. Avalon is one of the few companies in the world that can offer its guests the unique ability to fish in a completely exclusive marine park, free of commercial fishermen, nets or any skiffs or yachts from other tour companies. Think about the incredible possibilities of having all those nautical kilometers to yourself and being able to choose the species and the places you want to fish, without any fuel limitation during your fishing week!
The climate in Cuba is warmer than in the Bahamas, with an average temperature of 75° F in January. These fair weather conditions during the mid-winter months are very good for fly fishing the Cayo Largo flats. August, with an average temperature of 83° F, is the hottest month in Cuba. There is invariably a pleasant sea breeze but, occasionally, stronger winds can be experienced.
The fishing season runs from November until August, thus avoiding the hurricane period during September and October. The beginning of the season from November to January is very good, with plenty of bonefish (especially big ones) on the flats and mangrove areas. Fishing for tarpon and other species can also be excellent. This is a great time to plan a trip to Cayo Largo, as the weather is much warmer in Cuba than in Europe or Northern America.
Peak fishing season is from February to June when all species are present in the area. Tarpon, bones, permit, and jack will all be encountered during these months. During the spring and summer months, the migratory tarpon (which can be as large as 80 to 100 pounds) move through the area and are regularly spotted. Resident tarpon (averaging 25 to 40 pounds) are found throughout the year. Likewise, shots at permit are frequent. Peak season is the best time to try for a Gland Slam. Numerous Grand Slams are achieved each season as well as a few Super Grand Slams (tarpon, bonefish, permit, and snook). In the late season, the weather gets hot but the fishing is still very productive, especially for tarpon and permit. FIshing for bonefish is also very good in the morning and in the evening. Avalon’s statistics indicate a very surprising summer phenomenon: that the same number of fish are caught during the hot months but by half the number of rods. This illustrates in detail how fabulously productive the summer months in Cayo Largo are for anglers.
Cayo Largo guides are local, professional and highly experienced. (In fact, Avalon employed the expertise and years of experience of the Cayo Largo team to train guides for their newer operation on Cayo Cruz.)
Boats and Equipment
The fishing boats used by Avalon are Dolphin Super Skiffs outfitted with Yamaha 60 or 70HP motors, comfortable seats and poling platforms for the guides. Radios and life jackets are carried aboard every skiff. It is recommended that anglers bring their own fishing equipment. Flies, leaders, tippet, all terminal tackle, and all accessories should be packed, as very few items are available anywhere in Cuba.
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. Trips of any length of stay can be arranged, so please call Yellow Dog for details and custom package pricing.
(September 1, 2019 – March 7, 2020, and July 4, 2020 – September 5, 2020)
Fishing Package = USD $4,900.00
Non-Angler Package = USD $2,500.00
(March 7, 2020 – July 4, 2020)
Fishing Package = USD $7,900.00
Non-Angler Package = USD $2,900.00
Special: January 4th and February 1st, 2020. Single Angler Supplement Discount Special = $3,900 per angler / week, which includes Single skiff and single room. 7 nights / 6 Days.
- Meet-and-greet reception upon arrival into Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport (HAV)
- Seven (7) nights accommodations at the Hotel Sol Cayo Largo (double occupancy)
- Six (6) full days of guided fishing (two people per skiff)
- Transfers on arrival and departure on Cayo Largo
- Three meals per day while in Cayo Largo (all-inclusive meal service)
- Full bar tab and all-inclusive drinks at Hotel Sol Club Melia
- Beverages on board skiffs to include four (4) drinks (beer, water, and soft drinks ) each fishing day
- Taxes and GSTs
What’s Not Included:
- International flights to Havana (HAV) – (Yellow Dog can arrange these flights)
- Hotel nights in Havana (HAV) – (Yellow Dog can arrange for accommodations in Havana)
- Domestic flights between Havana (HAV) and Cayo Largo ($200 per person round trip)
- Cost of taxi transfers from Havana Airport to the hotel in Havana on arrival and departure days
- Meals, drinks, taxis, tours and any additional expenses while in Havana
- Fishing tackle, equipment, flies and all terminal tackle
- Cuban entrance visa
- Gratuities for guides and staff (must be paid in cash with CUCs)
- Other items of a personal nature
- Conservation Fee ($100 USD)
Trip Deposit and Trip Cancellation 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 trips must be made in US dollars and can be made using check, money order or wire transfer only. 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 the start of the trip, deposits are refundable minus an $800 Cuban operator handling fee, which will be held and retained by the operators unless the trip is resold. Inside of 180 days of the start date of the trip, all deposits and payments are non-refundable unless Yellow Dog or Cuban operators 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.