Cuba’s southern coast rightly attracts the attention of anglers

Posted: 12-Jan-19 07:00

It makes sense that the coast of one of the Caribbean’s least-spoilt islands is fast earning a reputation as one of the best fishing spots on the planet. And for more reasons than the ecological protection, many waters surrounding the country have long been afforded.

Cuba’s southern coast rightly attracts the attention of anglers

Times are, of course, changing on Cuba itself. The nation is opening up to the west, particularly the US, like never before. Not so much gradually but— in the eyes of many— hastily welcoming foreign investment which will forever transform its tourist industry. For the moment, though, thanks to Havana’s keenness to establish a green travel economy, saving swathes of both land and marine area from encroaching development in the process, it remains a dream destination for those who love the great outdoors.

Few pastimes are more suited to the island than angling. Legend has it baseball icon Ted Williams had the best day’s fishing of his life in the waters off the southern coast, bagging 40 bonefish while his boat lolled in the calm tide beneath the searing tropical sun. Up until recently, for many in the US securing similarly impressive results was the sole pursuit of those who could afford to "make arrangements", and those that had dual citizenship in a country that the Cuban authorities welcomed.

Thanks to recent-ish changes in the regulations surrounding entry to the island this is no longer the case, and firms such as Orvis Company have been quick to jump on the opportunity and establish small group trips that allow keen anglers to explore the inland, before heading out to some of the finest fishing areas in the world. Like the Cienaga de Zapata National Park, for example, a UNESCO biosphere reserve packed with almost-completely untouched mangrove forests and coral reefs.

Just ten catch-and-release boats are allowed out per day, with 2,425 square miles of protected habitat to explore. Little chance of running into another vessel, then, let alone being able to see the entire reserve, it marks an entirely different experience compared with angling in hotspots elsewhere in the Caribbean.

It also reflects the attitude of authorities in developing Cuba’s tourism in the right way— reaping the benefits of safeguarding the natural world by partnering with external companies to set up niche packages that wouldn’t be possible without the protection of wildlife. Long may the trend continue, ensuring one of the few remaining patches of water in the north-western hemisphere that hasn’t been severely damaged by humans stays that way.  


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