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CUBA-TRIP REPORT- Havana and Veradero August/September 2019

Discussion in 'Greater Caribbean and Bermuda' started by Jayfarmlaw, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
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    Sounds like going forward any U.S. citizens taking trips to Cuba (scuba or otherwise) will have a different set of circumstances than you did (yes, I've heard about people going to another country, heading to Cuba and back, then returning to the U.S. without mentioning their Cuba visit, but not talking about that).

    How practical going forward will it be for a U.S. recreational diver to go to Cuba? How will going back for you be different than this trip?

    I recall cruises to Cuba being cancelled (IIRC from a cruise forum), so no idea how feasible it will be to travel there for those interested.
     
  2. grf88

    grf88 Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Markham, Ontario
    1,559
    1,002
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  3. Ayisha

    Ayisha DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    2,893
    1,157
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    Hi Dr Sam, did you know that I would have inadvertently become certified as an ACUC diver in Cuba if it had not been for your good buddy Alec Pierce?

    In December 2001 I had taken my class and pool in preparation to do my o/w cert dives in Varadero, Cuba. I had emails with a dive shop who said they set me up to do my o/w dives with a PADI Instructor. Alec gave me tips on Cuba and told me repeatedly to go straight to the dive shop after checking in and absolutely check their credentials that they were a current PADI Instructor, not ACUC. He said there were very few PADI instructors in Cuba and that a PADI Assistant Instructor or DM could not certify me. He said ACUC was fine, as long as I make that decision myself. He gave me a Referral and a PIC envelope because he was pretty sure they wouldn't have any.

    He said don't fret if you don't do your certification dives. Just go diving with them and come back and get certified locally in the summer.

    I went straight to the dive shop and Alec was right on the money on all counts. I asked to see the credentials for the Instructor for my o/w cert the next day and he was a PADI DM and ACUC Instructor. They did not have any PADI Instructors even though they had insisted they did.

    I went quickly to the other dive shop. Nope, no PADI Instructor. The other shop could get in touch with one and see if he could come to Varadero. I checked the next day and no answer yet. In the meantime, an ACUC Assistant Instructor took me for 2 shore dives to 25 feet 45 minutes out of Varadero while the rest of the bus (all certified) got to do two 40 foot boat dives.

    Finally, they said that the PADI Instructor could travel to Varadero arriving in 3 days. We were booked to take an overnight tour to Havana and Tropicana, and then the following day flying for the day to the uninhabited Cayo Largo, so I only had 1 free day left to do my cert. The logistics of doing 1 day there and 1 day locally seemed pointless, so I did my o/w dives the next summer in Tobermory.

    The last times I went to Cuba in 2015 and 2017, the dive staff were ACUC, so it's alive and well in Cuba.

    Even as a first time diver I knew that diving in Varadero wasn't very good.

    Jardines de la Reina in 2015 was spectacular in reef health, colour and abundance of big life. This was Castro's protected marine park. Lots of info about him diving and spearfishing all over Cuba and noticing the depletion, so he created one of the first MPA's.
    Bay of Pigs was ok.
    Mareo del Portillo in 2017, nestled between the Sierra Maestra mountains (where Castro hid for 2 years) and the sea has breathtaking mountain/ocean views with fairly colourful reefs but very little life.
    I love the history and culture of Havana but never chose to dive there since the opinions are pretty uniform.

    The only place with fantastic diving in Cuba is Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen).
     
    Sam Miller III and Lorenzoid like this.
  4. abnfrog

    abnfrog Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: great white north
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    ACUC was (other than c mas ) was the only cuba certification in the day as padi naui etc were prohibited by the us for doing business in the Cuban territory .....ACUC is a dying agency I resigned more than 5 years ago over ACUC Canada covering up for an acuc instructor that broke standards and ended up having a fatality bobs daughter was a close friend of the instructor(and head of acuc ) and let it pass as far as I know he STILL IS AN ACUC instructor tdi/sdi booted him .insidently ACUC was my first certifying agency I was very proud of it till that happened !
     

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