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Cuba Culture and Fishing A Tour That Has It All

Story and Photos by Jon Covich

These custom tours are designed to show guests the real Cuba as well as the country’s outstanding fishing. Photo: Jon Covich

C

uba has a hold on me like no other destination. It’s a magical combination of things, starting with a step back in time, vintage American cars, farmers plowing their fields with oxen and humble, hard-working locals using horse-drawn carts throughout the countryside. I continue to be enthralled with the resiliency and kindness of the Cuban people, working together and helping each other navigate the challenges of their daily lives, always with a welcoming smile. These things have brought me back to Cuba nearly twenty times with many more trips planned. I have always wanted my fishing customers to have more interaction with Cuban life than they typically get when on a week’s fishing trip. All too often anglers are quickly transported to their incredible fishing destinations and then whisked out of the country without seeing the historical parts of Havana or taking in a great Cuban band, and ultimately without gaining any real understanding of how Cubans live. Travel, at its best, should expose us to more than just the one passion and allow us to leave more fulfilled, more enlightened and more understanding of the people who host us. As a result of this desire to share the real Cuba, lots of legwork and a key partnership with an agency experienced in hosting cultural tours in Cuba, Fly Water Travel now offers the ultimate adventure for those wanting the full experience

of what this remarkable country has to offer. I personally host all of these trips and work closely with our Cuban guides on the ground. These trips are not overly fancy by design, but rather more representative of common Cuba. My experience in Cuba enables guests to actively engage and enjoy many of the smaller, more subtle elements of daily life that our guides might otherwise pass over. I am also on hand to resolve any issues that arise during our travels and serve as your fishing expert once the angling portion of the trip commences. I am confident and proud of the relationship I have cultivated with our partners in Cuba, and together, we are able to change our itineraries as we see fit and fully customize trips according to what each group desires. A short outline of a favorite trip follows: Day 1: Arrive Old Havana and overnight in a small, privatelyowned Cuban guest house. Our first night in the city is lowkey, giving everyone a chance to get used to their surroundings and rest up after travel. Typically we get together for a drink, go change money together and then have a casual dinner in one of the many nice restaurants I know. Day 2: Meet our Cuban guide for an early walk through Old Havana’s most historic sites. After lunch we will tour Havana

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CUBA CULTURE AND FISHING in vintage American cars. We will stop along the way for an introduction to the mysterious Santeria religion, which is popular in Cuba. In the evening we will enjoy another nice dinner and music on the town.

people interested in Cuban history. We will enjoy our casual lodgings on the beach, swim in the bay during the evening and venture out to have great dinners in local restaurants in nearby villages.

Day 3: Today will begin with a fascinating tour of one of Havana’s cigar factories. Next we will travel to the outskirts of town where we will visit a primary school and drop off much-needed supplies to the staff and students. We then visit Hemingway’s ranch and afterwards have lunch in a restaurant near the port Papa used to moor his fishing boat. Back in Havana we will visit at least one of the city’s famous bars for a signature drink, have a nice dinner and then spend the rest of the evening in the apartment of a young Cuban couple who are rising stars on the Cuban music scene. This is a special evening and one not usually experienced by the casual visitor to Cuba.

Days 5-7: Three full days of guided fishing. The greater area adjoining the swamp and the Bay of Pigs is an immense mixture of flats, channels and back-country mangroves. Each day we drive through Zapata National Park to reach the small marina, and then join our guides in search of bonefish, resident tarpon and permit as well as jacks, snapper, barracuda and grouper. Depending upon interest, we may also take time for early morning bird-watching or enjoy short talks from a naturalist regarding the characteristics of Zapata National Park, which is the largest park in the Caribbean. Our last night here we will have a small party and pig roast with our guides and support staff.

Day 4: Get up early and transfer south towards the historic Bay of Pigs. We meet our fishing guides for a day of tarpon fishing on the Rio Hatiguanico and then continue on to our beachfront accommodations in the small town of Playa Larga. This is an old fishing village now frequented by the more adventurous travelers to Cuba. Bordering the famous Cienega Swamp, this area is a haven for anglers, bird-watchers, eco-tourists and

Day 8: Travel back to Havana for our flights home. For groups of five or more this trip is customizable to include more time in Cuba or visits to other parts of the country, including the tobacco growing area of Vinales and the historic town of Trinidad. Again, I would accompany your group for this extension and ensure that all goes smoothly.

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Cuba Culture and Fishing - A Tour That Has it All  

Cuba has a hold on me like no other destination. It’s a magical combination of things, starting with a step back in time, vintage American c...

Cuba Culture and Fishing - A Tour That Has it All  

Cuba has a hold on me like no other destination. It’s a magical combination of things, starting with a step back in time, vintage American c...