Fly Fish Cuba's Zapata Peninsula
The Zapata Liveaboard
The Zapata Liveaboard run by Fly Fishing the Run is the most affordable liveaboard in Cuba, and the closest operation to Havana, about 100 miles southeast of Havana. The Ciénaga de Zapata, Zapata Swamp in Spanish, 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 MV Georgiana, a 100-foot liveaboard, is located on the east side of the Canarreos and fishes six different zones each week. Individual and Group Rates.
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 as well as a few Super Grand Slams - tarpon, bonefish, permit, and snook. In the late part of the 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.
Zapata Fly Fishing Seasons:
Season: The Liveaboard fishing season runs year-round.
Boats: Dolphin Super Skiffs with Yamaha 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, and so is the Marine Park Conservation Fee, a $100.00 value.
The 100-foot liveaboard yacht, the MV 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 six anglers, each day will be a 1:1 guide ratio. With this structure, you’re ensured access to the best fly-fishing areas and personalized attention.
Zapata Liveaboard and Meals:
The MV Georgiana, a 100-foot luxury air-conditioned yacht, has four single-occupancy cabins and two double-occupancy cabins all with a private bathroom. The liveaboard accommodates up to eight guests.
Meals: Cuisine is simple but gourmet. Fresh fish of the day is prepared at most meals, pork and chicken entrees, salads with fresh vegetables, and a variety of fruits are always available. Fresh sashimi and Italian-style pizzas are offered nightly for appetizers, plus frozen Daiquiris, Cuba Libre and Mojitos.
Alcohol: There is a mandatory upfront fee of $200.00 per person for the open bar. The open bar fee 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 Havana Airport. From here, two options are available.
1) You’ll arrive in Havana on a Saturday before 4:00 p.m., and an Avalon representative will drive you to Zapata, a three-hour drive.
2) You’ll have the option of arriving on Friday and staying the evening at a hotel of your choice. In the morning, an Avalon representative will drive you to Zapata, a three-hour drive. (The ground transfer from the airport to the hotel and the hotel night are not included in the package.)
Full and Half Charters:
Full Yacht: Book up to 8-anglers and have the exclusive use of the yacht. Includes 6 skiffs, (2 double skiffs and 4 single skiffs), 4 single rooms, and 2 double-occupancy rooms.
Half-Yacht: Book up to 4-anglers, and Avalon will fill the rest of the boat, up to another four anglers.
For Individuals, Avalon takes on a case-by-case basis. Please call us for availability.
Avalon's Deposit Policy
2021 USD Rates:
7-nights on Liveaboard
and 6-days guided fishing
Saturday to Saturday.
Feb. 20 - March 27 and
July 3-31, 2021
$42,000.00 per group
$21,000.00 per group
March 27 - July 3, 2021
$46,000.00 per group
$23,000.00 per group
Aug. 1, 2020 - Feb. 20, 2021
$34,500.00 per group
$17,250.00 per group
Reception at Havana airport, ground transfer from the hotel in Havana to Zapata, 7-nights on the Liveaboard, all meals on the Liveaboard, and 6-days guided fishing (3-days single flat-bottom skiff and 3-days double skiff), fishing license, and Marine Park Conservation Fee, $100.00 value.
Packages Do Not Include:
Airfare, Cuba Tourist Visa $85.00, VIP service in Havana, overnight in Havana, if needed; ground transfer from the airport to the hotel upon arrival, if needed; fishing tackle, optional rod and reel rental of $280.00, gratuities to guide and staff, personal expenses, Global Rescue, Signature Travel Insurance, and anything not mentioned under inclusions.
Typical Fishing Day:
7:00 a.m. - Wake-up call.
7:30 a.m. - Breakfast.
8:00 a.m. - Head out to fish. Return in the afternoon based on your preference and conditions.
Evening: Enjoy appetizers and dinner. Overnight on the Georgiana.
Saturday: Flight arrival in Havana.
Greeted at the airport. Overnight in Havana.
Sunday: 7:00 a.m. transfer from the port to Zapata Liveaboard
Sunday - Friday: Fishing during the day, depending on tides and single/double skiff rotation, nights on the liveaboard.
Saturday: Wake-up, enjoy breakfast. Transfer from liveaboard to the port. Ground transfer to Havana International Airport.