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By Plane

Cuba has 10 international airports. Havana is by far the principal gateway, although there are numerous regularly scheduled and charter flights to Varadero (VRA) and Santiago de Cuba (SCU) as well. To a lesser extent, international charter flights from Canada and Europe service Cayo Largo del Sur (CYO), Cienfuegos (CFG), Santa Clara (SNU), Camagüey (CMW), Ciego de Avila (AVI), Holguín (HOG), and Cayo Coco (CCC).

It's roughly a 70-minute flight from Miami to Havana; 3 hours and 30 minutes from New York to Havana; 4 hours and 30 minutes from Toronto or Montreal to Havana; and 9-10 hours from London to Havana. Most of the principal Caribbean basin gateway cities -- Cancún, George Town (Grand Cayman), Kingston, Nassau, and Santo Domingo -- are between 30 and 90 minutes to Havana by air.

Airfares vary widely, depending on the season, demand, and certain ticketing restrictions. But, given the high number of charter flights and package tours to Cuba, combined with the stiff competition for vacation travel throughout the Caribbean, airfares are relatively cheap, and bargains abound. It really pays to shop around. If you wish to visit Cuba in July and August, a popular tourist season, book in advance because charter flights sell often out at this time.

Cubana (tel. 7/838-1039; www.cubana.cu) is Cuba's national airline and the principal carrier to the island, with regularly scheduled flights to a score of cities throughout the Americas, Europe, and Canada. (Cubana is code-shared with Aerocaribbean.) 

There is no regularly scheduled service between the United States and Cuba, although there are numerous charter flights from Miami, and to a lesser extent from New York and Los Angeles. Licensed U.S. travelers are eligible to use these flights. 

Getting into Town from the Airport -- Cubataxis, the name for all official taxis in Cuba, line up outside the arrivals hall and you will be shepherded to the first in the queue. Despite it being illegal to carry passengers without using the meter, airport taxi drivers will refuse to use them and charge a flat fee of around CUC$20 to Vedado and CUC$25 to La Habana Vieja. The metered fee is around CUC$15. If you arrive at Varadero or Holguin airports, there will be taxis waiting as well as car rental options.

By Boat

When arriving by sea, contact the port authorities before entering Cuban waters 19km (12 miles) offshore on VHF channels 16 or 72, or HF channels 2790 or 2760. Skippers do not need to give advance notice or have a prior visa. A visa can be granted on arrival. All crew members must have current passports, and U.S. Treasury Department restrictions apply to all U.S. citizens. Skippers will also need to register their vessel upon arrival. A special permit, or permiso especial de navegación, is issued. This permit costs around CUC$50 depending on the length of the vessel.

Cuba has a network of state-run, full-service marinas, many run by Náutica Marlin (www.nauticamarlin.com) and Gaviota (www.gaviota-grupo.com). Marinas that function as official points of entry and exit include those in Jardines del Rey, María la Gorda, Cayo Largo del Sur, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba, as well as the Marina Hemingway in Havana and Marina Dársena in Varadero.

Good resources for any sailor planning to visit Cuba are Simon Charles's The Cruising Guide to Cuba (Cruising Guide Publications, 1997) and Nigel Calder's Cuba: A Cruising Guide (Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson, 1999). While a little dated, both books are full of invaluable information, tips, and firsthand experiences aimed at cruising sailors.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.