Home Features Club Nights Underwater Pics Feedback Non-Celebrity Diver Events 20 July 2018
Blog Archive Medical FAQs Competitions Travel Offers The Crew Contact Us MDC LDC
Order Tanked Up Magazine
 Twitter Tanked Up FAQ Dive Medicine  Download the Tanked Up Magazine App
 
Cuba

ISSUE 21 ARCHIVE - DOS AND DON'TS: DIVING IN CUBA

Traveller

DO

Go and go now. This time will be known as the Castro P.M. That's Pre-MacDonald's - the Americans are coming. Current President Raul has 2 more years in office and the expectation with the lightening of U.S. relations is a tsunami of cruise boats and burger lovers. Cuba currently still has a wonderful Caribbean Communist charm. Perhaps if Russia had better weather, rum, beaches and beautiful people, then Putin would still have a Soviet Union.

DO

Try diving on both coasts. The north has all the big tourist hotels [Cubans are not allowed to stay there], so it's boat diving from your all-inclusive, but you won't see the real country, especially if you fly charter directly to Cayo Coco. Try the south coast. Better coral and even some cenotes filled with fish and perfectly clear water. The Bay of Pigs two hours south of Havana is cool and you will see the true Cuba.

DO

Get a basic NVQ in plumbing before you go. The loos and showers can be pretty hopeless at times, and rather than wait for the local guy to finish his siesta, I found it easier to fix it myself. A travel spanner set from B&Q can easily fit into a dive bag. Presto, a non-embarrassingly empty khasi for when your partner comes back from the cigar shop.

DO

A little history. West of Havana are some amazing mountains and caves where Russell Brand lookalike “El Commadante” lived during the US funded military invasion in '61. You can see his bedroom still preserved in a small cavern, replete with writing desk and comfy red pillows. They call it “Chez Guevara”.

DO

Spend the best 30 bucks of your life on this one thing - And this is a must do - Go to Central Park in Havana Old Town and see the line-up of old drop-top Pontiacs, Buicks, Plymouths and finned Chevvys. Brightly coloured and polished to perfection. In an hour you can see most of the city including Revolution Square and the best of the fading Spanish colonial architecture. Finish with the long drag by the bay called the Malecon where they fish from floating rubber rings and families dance to all the musicians playing by the sea. You will never forget it - and you will look and feel “pura vida”.

DON'T

Ever lose your patience. Yes you have to wait in line a lot of times, especially on arrival at the airport which can take over two hours to get through - what with customs, baggage and buying your tourist money called a “convertible peso", but remember that the locals do it all the time when they have to get their free daily bread, milk, meat and eggs. The locals joke that that is why it's called “Queue-ba”.

DON'T

Have high expectations of the food outside Havana and the big hotels. Rice n beans, chicken or pork. That's about it. I did ask why during the revolution they shot all the chefs as well as Batista's soldiers. That was met with a frosty look. But in the home of rum, mojitos and daiquiris as well as Cohibas – who needs to eat anyway.

DON'T

Snigger on your way to the northern cays when you go through the town of Moron. Cuba has the highest literacy rate of all of the Americas, they can all play a musical instrument and guess what? Their doctors were in West Africa months 31 before we were helping with the Ebola Crisis. None of them contracted it either – which is more than we can say for the U.S. and Blighty.

DON'T

Forget that the monthly government salary to every Cuban is only 50 bucks. Road sweeper or neurosurgeon – it's the same. A socialist paradise. But the shops are fairly empty. The biggest supermarket is the size of a Spar. If you have any old dive kit or stuff you don't really need, leave it to the locals. They will be grateful. I now have a new routine for developing countries - pop down to Primark, spend 20 quid on your clothes and give it all to the locals when you go. That leaves enough space in your suitcase to fill with all the fish carvings and Che berets your family at home need as presents.

DON'T

Freak out if you find a crab in your room, plus twenty outside the door. For a week a year the land crabs migrate from the forest behind the hotel, over the walls and through the grounds to the beach in front of you. The local roads are filled with more crabby splats than when a John West delivery truck jack-knifes on the M25. A true wonder of nature, and it'll save you 5 grand on a flight to Christmas Island if you're into that sort of thing.
Denney Diving
Reef Jewellery
Suunto
Agony Armchair Aunt Best Bride Busted Catch Catch Chamber Club Cooking DCI Deep Deepravities Dentist Dive Dive Diver Diver Diving Doc Don'ts Don'ts Dos Downsides Dry Editorial Fish Flow Gimp Guide Horrorscopes Investigates Letters Love Marine Myth Nervous Night Non-Celebrity Part Paul Photo Photography Photostory Practical Quiz Quiz Reasons Rob Scapa Scuba Sea Shark Sharkipedia Sharm Story Tech Technical Things Toomer Triggerfish Tyson UK Underwater Versus World World Worst your