Everything you need to know to go marlin fishing in Cuba

The Ernest Hemingway International Marlin Fishing Tournament; one of the world's oldest of its kind, is annually organised by the marina named after the famous American writer. To give you an idea of how renowned the tournament is, suffice it to say that in its last ten editions, contestants from over 30 countries, among them USA, Russia, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and of course, Cuba; have taken part in it.

Everything you need to know to go marlin fishing in Cuba

In The Old Man and the Sea; one of his award-winning masterpieces, Ernest Hemingway authenticates describes the Cuba´s Caribbean waters as beingcoastline as and ideal scenario for fishing. He knew them so well, and hooked so many fish in them, that his name christens one of the world’s oldest international sports fishing events.

It’s so much so,In fact, that the only international sports fishing events specialising on the capture of marlin and prior precedingin time to the Hemingway Tournament, which focuses on the capture of the majestic marlin; are the Tuna World Cup in Nova Scotia and the Shad Tournament in Mexico. Thus, we must go back to 1950 to find out more about, for news regarding the genesis foundation of our tournament.

Hemingway: promoter and champion

Historians tell us of an event that took place on 26th May 1950, in which 36 of the best sports yachts from Cuban yacht clubs, enrolled in a competition in the Canal del Morro (The Morro Castle Channel) at the entrance to the Havana bay, seeking the Gulf Stream. hese historians also state that one of them was the Pilar, the yacht now famous for having belonged to the so-called Bronze God of Literature.

From the day of its foundation, the contest kept its original name. This was so, because a group of fishermen proposed it to Hemingway, in recognition of the passion he bestowed on this recreational sport. The American author not only accepted; he also donated the cup handed over to the winners in the tournament’s three subsequent editions. By the way, undisputable proof of the writer’s ability with fishing rods and reels, lies in the fact that he was the tournament´s only winner between 1953 and 1955.

In 1959 Hemingway travelled to the American state of Idaho, but returned a year later to award the winners of the competition’s 11th edition, during which time he met up with the Cuban revolution’s historic leader; Fidel Castro. For various reasons, none of these contests were held between 1961 and 1962. In 1963, the tournament was reinstated, but for national competition only. Then; in 1978, it was brought back to its international format which it still maintains today.

Up until today the competition has seen 65 editions, with a growing impact among those who root for sports fishing as a environment-protecting hobby. And Hemingway is still an important personality for Cubans and around the world.


Subscriptions to enroll in the event must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of its starting date, which is traditionally scheduled for late May but in this occasion, the celebration of Ernest Hemingway International Marlin Fishing Tournament 2016 will be between 13th and 18th of June. Although the deadline for applications has just passed, with a little of luck, interested applicants could participated.

The enrollment price is $450 CUC per fishing team of one to three crew members with an extra 100 CUC payable for an additional one. If you wish to rent a vessel at Marina Hemingway; which is the contest’s permanent host, its rent includes a highly qualified crew, fishing tackle, baits, snacks and refreshments. But if the contestant chooses to bring their own vessel, the cost of enrollment includes docking, a personal invitation to a welcome cocktail, award ceremony and dinner for all team members.

The visa to enter the country may be acquired at the entrance to the marina, and all the visitor has to do is to communicate his arrival through VHF channel 16.

Regarding lodging facilities, the event’s organisers offer double and single rooms at preferential rates at a selection of different nearby hotels, the five-star Melia Habana, and four-star hotels Acuario, Chateau Miramar and Comodoro.

Changes to the Competition in 2015

Several changes were made to the tournament’s competition format for its 2015 edition in order to keep contestants happy, while striving for the survival of the captured species. So, for example; in the trolling category, the method employed for catching marlin was the well-known tag and release, thus abiding by the efforts for the ecological conservation of the species. I personally spoke to some of the competitors, all of whom supported the adjustment.

In addition to this, the competition’s jury established a distinction between the captured species, according to their resistance at the moment of being hooked; hence granting 500 points for the Blue Marlin, 400 for the White Marlin and 300 for Sail Fish.

The tournament’s impact is such, that in the last ten years, fishermen from over 30 countries, including USA, Russia, Cuba, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom; have all come over to try out their fishing skills in Cuba´s rich waters.

Michel Contreras

Michel Contreras

Chief Sportsman

Sports-struck for as long as he can remember, Michel invites you to meet champions, travel around...

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