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Archipelago de Los Canarréos... the Cuban paradise

Travel
Written by
Laura Nicholls

When it comes to superyacht cruising grounds, sometimes it may be easy to forget that there is a big wide world to discover outside of the hustle and bustle of the main Mediterranean and Caribbean hotspots. With more and more owners and charter clients opting to stray a little further from the beaten track, here we shine a spotlight on some of the more exciting cruising destinations from all four corners of the world.

Acala yacht in Cayo LargoPhoto: Cantiere delle marcheCuba is a country that captures curiosity and arouses the senses. With timeworn buildings crumbling down onto the sticky streets and gleaming vintage American cars cruising past the sexy salsa clubs, Cuba has the ability to transport visitors back decades to a forgotten time. As one of the most unique countries in the world, the preservation of this Caribbean timewarp is feeling the pressure of rising tourism.

Aerial view of Cayo LargoPhoto: Denys Nevozhai As keen-travellers flock to the mainland, the far-flung islands off the south coast of Cuba are largely uninhabited and a perfect paradise ready to be explored. These ventures are what make charter voyages so special, as the 300+ tiny islets Archipelago de Los Canarréos, can only be accessed by boat. 

Day one
Disembark into Cienfuegos
The natural bay carved into the southern coastline of Cuba is home to Cienfuegos marina, the first port of call on your Caribbean adventure. Dubbed Cuba’s Pearl of the South, Cienfuegos is a perfect starting point to ease into the colourful chaos of Cuban culture. Founded by the French in 1819, Cienfuegos is one of Cuba’s newest settlements and has certainly retained a certain je ne sais quoi.             

Streets of CienfuegosPhoto: Alexander KunzeWith its wide streets, colourful facades and colonial architecture, the city feels quite different from the rest of the country. Take a stroll through the city, which is also a Unesco World Heritage Site, made up of a rigid grid of historic streets. Once back onboard gaze at the monuments and unique features of the city skyline while dining alfresco. For the rest of the day, enjoy the Rancho Luna Beach just outside the bay, or delve into the yacht’s toys chest. Come dusk, you can head back into the city to dance at Cienfuegos Club in Punta Gorda. Enjoy the delights of the Cuban disco, live music and learn some new salsa moves.

Day two
Relax in Cayo Largo
Rest your dancing feet while cruising out into the Caribbean Sea towards Cayo Largo onboard CdM's Darwin 102 explorer yacht Acala. On the way, make a stop at the beautifully pristine Cayo Guano for a quick morning dip to wake up, then kick back and relax, soaking up the sun as the tranquil archipelago of soft sand islets, passes by.
Cayo Largo is the only inhabited member of this group of islands off the south coast of Cuba and has some of the area’s most stunning beaches. When Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492, he is thought to have declared the island "the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen.”

Acala yacht in Cayo LargoPhoto: Cantiere delle marcheGrab your snorkelling gear and spend the afternoon floating in the clear waters searching for small sharks, tropical fish and sea turtles on the coral reef below your yacht - or trek a little inland and visit the island’s turtle farm.  

Diver in Cayo LargoPhoto: Kris Mikael KristerDrop anchor near Playa Paraiso, Cayo Largo's best stretch of sand, for an evening of fine cuisine onboard. Watch the sun go down and take a midnight swim in the blue waters of the small cove.  

Day three
The island of iguanas
Rich by name, rich by nature, the bay of Cayo Rico has a plentiful population of local iguanas.  Spend your morning cruising around the island spotting the tropical lizards. Then, take time to explore the exotic flora and fauna, some of which is unlikely to be found outside of the Caribbean. 

Aerial view of Cayo LargoPhoto: Romello WilliamsContinue to explore Cayo Rico during the afternoon, switch off and enjoy the desert island. While the sun goes down, sneak off to the powdered beach of Playa Sirena to indulge in some delicious al fresco dining.

Day four
Dive in deep at Cayo Rosario
It's time to make the most of the fruitful Caribbean Sea and spend the whole day scuba diving around the island of Cayo Rosario - one of the top diving destinations in Cuba. Despite your level of ability, there are many dive sites around the island to choose from and there is an abundance of reefs, walls, caves, caverns, swim-throughs, and wrecks to explore. The water is so clear and inviting and is home to almost 600 species of corals and sponges - you'll want to be in it for all your trip. 

Beach in Cayo LargoPhoto: Joanna SzumskIf that doesn’t take your fancy, Cayo Rosario is a tropical paradise island with no inhabitants, so relax and sunbathe on the perfect beaches, enjoy a drink, or go fishing. Fill up on freshly caught fish and enjoy dinner onboard, cooked fresh by your chef. 


Day five
In amongst the mangroves 
The Quinto Canal is a perfect stop-off for a day of getting closer to the extraordinary nature that inhabits the Caribbean. Take your yacht’s kayak up the network of canals to get an unrivaled view of the famous mangrove trees. Be sure to take a moment to jump into the natural pools for a refreshing swim, or take off on an adventure walking around the island.   

Acala yacht in Cayo LargoPhoto: Cantiere delle marcheIf you’ve ever wanted to swim with dolphins, there are opportunities to do so on the island. During the evening, cruise onboard back towards the mainland and wake up on the island of Cayo Sal.  

Day six
A final moment of bliss
Waking up in the ultimate relaxation spot of Cayo Sal you will find yourself in, possibly, the most isolated and peaceful location on your charter. For a full mind and body relaxation workout, Cayo Sal is the perfect place to try some paddleboard yoga. If you can’t stay on your feet, the warm waters are there to catch you. 

Acala yacht in Cayo LargoPhoto: Cantiere delle marcheAs perhaps the last opportunity to explore the colourful Caribbean ocean, go snorkelling and view the incredible coral reef and different species of fish, langoustines and sharks. Or, take a hike inland to the natural lagoon which has turned into a striking salt lake in the middle of the island. 


Day seven
Back in Cienfuegos
Arrive back in the city of Cienfuegos feeling refreshed and curious to experience more Cuban culture. Stock up on Cuban cigars, coffee, and rum while roaming the city. If you didn’t before, be sure to stop for a chilled mojito whilst taking in the number of historical and cultural hotspots in the city such as Cienfuegos Boulevard and Jose Marti Square. If you haven’t quite had your fill of underwater life, ask the locals about ‘Notre Dame’, a natural coral formation that looks like two large cathedral pillars in Cienfuegos. If you want to stay longer exploring Cuba, the quaint town of Trinidad with its colonial old town, cobblestone streets and neo-baroque main square are just over an hours drive away in a classic American car - as is Santa Clara, the city known for its revolutionary landmarks.

Acala yacht in Cayo LargoPhoto: Cantiere delle marche

SIDE FEATURE

The Darwin 102 Acala is just one of the explorer yachts by CdM - a superyacht that is the perfect synthesis of efficiency, seaworthiness and size for exploring the Caribbean. Find out more about the CdM fleet online at www.cantieredellemarche.it

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