Fly Fishing Cuba's Zapata Peninsula
The Zapata Liveaboard
The Zapata Liveaboard, is one of the most affordable liveaboards in Cuba, and the closest operation to Havana, about 100 miles southeast of Havana. The Zapata Swamp is the largest and best-preserved wetlands system in the Caribbean islands and a protected waterpark. Zapata is one of the best bird-watching areas in the world, with over 175 species, plus 900 plant species and 31 amphibian species. Zapata Swamp is the most sparsely populated city in Cuba, with only 9,300 people in the 1,668 square mile area. The Georgiana, a 100-foot liveaboard, is located on the east side of the Canarreos and fishes six different zones each week. Group Rates only for eight to 12 anglers.
Zapata Fly Fishing Seasons:
Years ago, it was inconceivable that the people living in the Zapata Swamp, a UNESCO-recognised biosphere reserve in western Cuba, would one day stop using the forest here to make charcoal, extract precious wood, or hunt crocodile and deer. San Lázaro Channel was one of the channels they used to transport the charcoal from the island to the sea. During your fishing week, the liveaboard yacht travels on the same route.
Fishing Seasons: January is very good bonefishing, with plenty of bones, especially big ones on the flats and mangrove areas. Tarpon and other species can also be excellent. January is a great time to plan a trip here, as the weather is much warmer in Cuba than in Northern America.
Peak Fishing is from late March to mid-July when all species—tarpon, bones, permit, and jacks—are present in the area. Migratory tarpon average 15 to 30-pounds, and tarpon up to 80 to 100 pounds are regularly spotted; plus, frequent shots at permit. During peak season, numerous Grand Slams are achieved each season, and a few Super Grand Slams - tarpon, bonefish, permit, and snook. Late season, from mid-July through the end of August, the weather gets hot, but the fishing is very productive, especially for tarpon and permit. Bonefishing is very good in the morning and evening.
Season: The Liveaboard fishing season runs year-round, with peak season from March through July.
Boats: Dolphin Super Skiffs with Yamaha 60 to 70-HP engines allow access to shallow water and provide fast runs between fishing spots. For skinny-water flats, you’ll fly fish from a flat-bottom skiff, so you’re able to access bonefish and permit.
Guides: Local guides are excellent fishermen skilled at finding all species. They speak enough English to be understood for fishing purposes.
Fishing Equipment: No equipment is provided. Plan on bringing flies, leaders, tippet, all terminal tackle, and all accessories, as very few items are available anywhere in Cuba. A comprehensive tackle and gear list is included in our confirmation packet.
Fishing License: is included in the package. The mandatory Marine Park Conservation Fee of $300.00 is not included in the package.
The 100-foot liveaboard yacht, the Georgiana, is your base. Since there’s no need to leave the area, you’ll choose your fishing schedule based on what species you’re targeting and the best time to fish the tides. The guides focus on zones and skiff rotation. If your group has eight anglers, you’ll bonefish three days in a flat-bottom skiff with a 1:1 guide ratio. And, for three days, you'll also fish deeper water in a Dolphin Super Skiffs with Yamaha 70-HP engines with a 2:1 guide ratio. If your group has eight anglers, you'll fish one angler per skiff for 3-days and then two anglers per skiff for 3-days. If your group has 12 anglers, you'll fish two anglers per guide.
Zapata Liveaboard and Meals:
The MV Georgiana, a 100-foot luxury air-conditioned yacht, has four single-occupancy cabins and two double-occupancy cabins, each with a private bathroom. The liveaboard accommodates up to eight guests.
Meals: Cuisine is simple but gourmet. Fresh fish is prepared for most meals, pork and chicken entrees, salads with fresh vegetables, and a variety of fruits. Fresh sashimi and Italian-style pizzas are nightly appetizers, plus frozen Daiquiris, Cuba Libre and Mojitos.
Alcohol: There is a mandatory upfront fee of $200.00 per person for the all-inclusive open bar, which includes beer, wine, liquor, and sodas.
Communications: Wi-Fi is not available on the liveaboard. You’ll need to check with your cell service provider before your trip to see if your U.S. cell phone will work in Cuba. Satellite phones are NOT allowed in Cuba and will be confiscated at the airport upon arrival.
Getting to the Liveaboard:
You’ll fly to the Jose Marti International Airport (HAV), also referred to as the Havana Airport. From here, there are two package options.
1) You’ll arrive in Havana on a Saturday before 2:00 p.m., and a Fly Fishing the Run representative will drive you to the liveaboard in Zapata, a three-hour drive.
2) You’ll arrive on Friday evening and stay at a hotel of your choice. In the morning, a representative will drive you to the Zapata liveaboard, a three-hour drive. (With this option, the ground transfer from the airport to the hotel, the hotel night in Havana, and meals/beverages in Havana are not included in the package.)
Saturday: Travel day to the liveaboard.
Sunday: 7:00 a.m. transfer to Zapata, then guided fishing.
Sunday through Friday:
7:00 a.m. - Wake-up call.
7:30 a.m. - Breakfast.
8:00 a.m. - You’ll head out to fish. You’ll return in the afternoon based on your preferences and weather conditions.
Evening: Enjoy appetizers and dinner. Overnight on the Georgiana.
Saturday: Ground transfer from Zapata to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. If you schedule your departure flight after 3:00 p.m., you should be able to fly home on the same day.
2023 and 2024 USD Rates:
7-nights on Liveaboard and 6-days guided fishing
8-Angler Program Includes: 6 skiffs (2 double-occupancy skiffs and 4 single-occupancy skiffs), 4 single rooms, and 2 double rooms.
12-Angler Program Includes: 6 double-occupancy skiffs and 6 double-occupancy rooms.
Low Season: July 29, 2023 - March 1, 2024
8-angler Program: $38,000.00 per group
12-angler Program: $45,100.00 per group
High Season: March 2 - July 27, 2024
8-angler Program: $48,000.00 per group
12-angler Program: $60,500.00 per group
The Packages Include:
• Reception at the Havana Airport
• Ground transfers between Havana Airport and Zapata
• 7-nights on the Liveaboard
• All meals on the Liveaboard
• 6-days guided fishing
• A fishing license
The Packages Do Not Include:• Airfare to Havana, Cuba, and return
• Cuban Visa
• VIP service in Havana
• Hotel night in Havana, if needed
• Ground transfer from the airport to the hotel upon arrival, if needed
• $200.00 Mandatory all-inclusive open bar fee
• Extra beverages and food
• $300.00 Mandatory Marine Park Conservation Fee
• Fishing gear and tackle
• Gratuities to guide and staff
• Laundry Tips
• Personal expenses
• Global Rescue
• Travel insurance
• Anything not mentioned under inclusions.