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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, this is more than a little overdue but I thought I’d have a crack at a report in the spirit of Mal’s ‘silent majority’ thread!

The good lady and I did a three week backpacking trip around Cuba with a ‘side excursion’ of 5 days to the Isla De La Juventud (‘Isle of Youth’). Getting to the island from Havana involves 40 minute death ride on a 30+ year old twin-prop bagged from Communist-era Russia. These things whine and rattle like tin cans and adding to that Cubana’s dismal safety record means you don’t want to be attempting this trip if you’re in any way ‘cautious’ about flying!

The only real option once there is to stay at the El Colony, diving in the marine reserve off the southernmost peninsula with the dive school attached to the hotel. El Colony was built in the 50’s pre-Castro and to be honest most of it has seen better days, the beachfront bungalows we stayed in were pretty new and a good standard though. Great for watching the sunsets.

The dive centre is a modest affair, housed in a small building at the marina. No shop but you could hire gear (we took our own) which looked ok. Apparently it has a chamber but I didn’t see it. No Nitrox from what I could tell.

Oh yeah, the diving.

Fantastic.

All the sites are less than 1km from shore. The shore being the whitest, most deserted beach you’ve ever seen which you get to lunch/S.I on. By yourself.

Being a protected marine reserve means there are vast quantities of fish life. Way too many for me to identify or mention, see the pics. Some of the reefs had taken a fairly harsh beating from the hurricanes that swept the area in 2005 but they were showing impressive regrowth and what was there looked in excellent health. There were some larger pelagics but not a huge amount, the odd reef shark, turtle, moray eels and stingrays.

The diving itself was on a mix of reef and wall. Visibility was over 30m, water temp 30c and no currents to speak of.

You are required to dive with a guide but like most Cubans they’re a very relaxed bunch. They conduct the dives something akin to a casual stroll in the park.

Pro’s:

• Fantastic reefs & fish life.
• The viz, ohhhh the viz!
• There’s only one dive boat in the area…and you’re on it!

Con’s:

• It’s remote. You’re not going to get there unless you’re going to Cuba independently.
• There’s no other diversions at the hotel. Nothing. My song for the week became:

‘we’re only here for the diving,
here for the diving,
here for the diiiiiiiiiving’

• The food at the hotel is crap. Edible, but crap.

Pic’s from the trip here: Public Album
 

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life is too short
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Great report & pics... Sharks, Rays and Turtles!
Can i ask, was it expensive over there?
 

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Getting to the island from Havana involves 40 minute death ride on a 30+ year old twin-prop bagged from Communist-era Russia. These things whine and rattle like tin cans and adding to that Cubana’s dismal safety record means you don’t want to be attempting this trip if you’re in any way ‘cautious’ about flying!

You mean an Antonov 24. We missed a scheduled flight from Santiago de Cuba to Havana last year. By good fortune and a 20 peso bribe we managed to get on one of these which I think was reserved for Cuban high ranking officials and their families. The journey took about 2 hours and we had some fantastic views of the southern coastline of Cuba. Not something I would want to repeat in a hurry since one went down in the sea near Santiago a few years ago, and, up to now, about 1 in 10 of these planes worldwide, have crashed !
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You could well be right Steve, I was too busy praying to note the type of aircraft!! I only know it was Russian as it had all the original signs in the cabin!
 
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