Located on the north shore on the main island of Cuba, in the province of Camaguey, Cayo Romano or Cayo Cruz as it’s formerly known, is an area that presents some stunning saltwater fly fishing opportunities. An enormous system of flats, lagoons and pristine estuaries spanning an area of over 366 square kilometres, it’s virtually untouched and represents one of Cuba’s cleanest and most biologically diverse ecosystems. As a result, it’s a destination at the top of many travelling saltwater fly anglers wishlists, especially those who yearn for great wading and significant numbers of hard fighting Bonefish and Permit.
With commercial fishing within the area strictly forbidden and rigorously enforced by the Cuban Government, the fishery has flourished. As a result, the waters of Cayo Romano now demonstrate all the characteristics of a recently-discovered, virgin fishing territory with large numbers of fish, with good average size, and an evident lack of exposure to flies and leaders. The fishery is still very much in its infancy.
The flats of Cayo Romano are an inviting combination of hard-packed white sand and a semi-firm mottled bottom that provides excellent wading – and what a place this is for those who like to wade, there are places where you can do so for four straight hours without heading back to the boat.
As a destination, Cayo Romano is famed for its fantastic Bonefish sport. The average-sized Bone throughout the fishery is a very healthy 4lb, but it’s not unheard of for anglers to land a fish or two over the magical 10lb mark during a standard week. Wading and tailing Bonefish is common, and anglers can regularly expect to see fish in singles, doubles up to schools of several hundred fish. Even though Bonefish, also known as the ghosts of the flats, are sometimes considered a saltwater fly fishing ‘starter’ species, they are at the same time one of the most refined. When hooked in shallow water, they will run with a force and vigour that will challenge the confidence you have in your fishing gear.
One thing that sets Cayo Romano apart from some of the other destinations in Cuba and the Caribbean is that anglers can expect to get shots at good numbers of Permit nearly every day of the week. These are some of the most fickle yet rewarding of all saltwater game fish. Typically identified by their protruding coal-black forked tails, good-sized Permit are residents on the flats and in decent numbers, they range in size between 8lb and 30lb.
The flats at Cayo Romano are a little deeper than those found in other areas of Cuba, which means that the Bonefish and Permit still get found in excellent numbers throughout the year.
Two locations within the destination offer excellent Tarpon fishing, although the guides tend to save these areas for when an angler is on the cusp of a grand slam, having already landed a Permit and Bonefish. The fish range from 30lb to 90lb. These fish are powerful and acrobatic, and during the duration of a battle with anglers, they will regularly launch themselves clear of the water in a bid to shake the hook.
Besides the fishing for Permit, Bonefish and Tarpon, there’s also a whole host of other challenging species that will readily eat an angler’s fly; these include species like the Mutton Snapper, Snook, Cubera Snapper, Jack Crevalle and Barracuda, to name a few.
Cayo Romano is ideal for fly-fishermen who wish to live and experience fishing from dawn till dusk. They offer more fishing hours than any other destination, and the fishing hours are totally at the angler’s discretion.
A regular day usually begins with a hearty breakfast around 7.00am before departing with your guides at around 7.45am. Most of the flats get found close to the accommodation, and in most cases, you can often have a fly in the water twenty minutes after setting off for the day. However, in some cases, that may be as soon as five minutes; it just depends on where your guide wants to take you for the day and what you are interested in targeting. With 50 square kilometres per boat, the options are just about limitless. There are so many significant aspects to this fishery that it can indeed be a sensory overload at times.
After fishing all morning and with the accommodation so close, it’s common to head back for lunch, escaping the hottest of the midday sun and relaxing for an hour before heading back out for the afternoon.
On some of the more remote flats, further than 15 minutes from the accommodation, the guides will often suggest the evening before that you take a packed lunch and stay out all day. There are no gasoline limits for the guides, so if you wish, you can motor out longer distances to the flats further afield, and this can often yield some of the best, most explosive sport.
Typically, wherever you’re fishing, you’ll return to the accommodation early evening, after the witching hour, as this can often be very productive. Once back at base and after you’ve relaxed and showered, you’ll be served some dinner, with fine cuisine, fresh fish, lobster and conch, as well as a variety of salad and fruits, washed down with a selection of world-class wines, rum and beer.
To find out more about saltwater fly fishing in Cuba at Jardines de la Reina, visit our YouTube channel.
For all travelling anglers visiting Cayo Romano, the fishing is based on two anglers per guide, and as you’d expect, all are local to the area and know the fishing grounds intimately. Many of them have previously worked in the area as commercial fishermen and grew up among the flats, lagoons, and mangroves and because of this deep history, along with Avalon’s professional and progressive training measures, they are some of the best and most competent guides in all of Cuba and the Caribbean. Speaking good English and eager to share stories about their Cuban heritage and unique fishing experiences, they will always go the extra mile with a passionate drive towards success in helping guests pursue their fish of a lifetime.
The fishing boats used by the guides are Dolphin Super Skiffs fitted with Yamaha 60 or 70 HP outboards perfectly designed to negotiate the saltwater environment. Radios and life jackets also get carried aboard every boat.
On Cayo Romano, it’s possible to fish all year round. However, the most stable weather patterns are experienced from November to the end of July. Off-season, the island is susceptible to hurricanes, and numerous islands are eerily scarred with swathes of dead mangroves that have been stripped of their foliage. Average temperatures range from 23 degrees in January to 28 degrees in August, the hottest month.
The Hotel Spa Cayo Romano is a stunning new accommodation with a privileged location, at only 100 meters from the fishing marina. This new private mini lodge has a swimming pool, bar, lounge, a variety of signature restaurants, a bowling area, and more. This lodge features several activities for anglers and also for non-fishing guests. Additionally, the accommodation is only an hour away from Cayo Coco airport.
The lodge is built right on the water, overlooking a beautiful channel visited daily by Tarpon schools and Jacks. Some of the best fishing takes place right off the marina before dark.
All rooms are spacious and well-appointed with air conditioning, tiled floors and excellent showers. In addition, the Romano has a private block of rooms specially assigned to the Avalon anglers in a quiet area.
In the open-air main lodge, you will find comfortable lounging chairs and a fully stocked bar with an accommodating bartender. After a long day on the flats, it’s nice to recount your adventures to fellow anglers while sipping an ice-cold beverage and enjoying the daily selection of snacks prepared fresh every afternoon. Then, after a shower, make your way to the dining room to enjoy the chef’s daily speciality.
This accommodation offers a “lodge atmosphere” to anglers who visit it, as it is remote but not disconnected. The main lodge also has wireless internet for guest use.
Although the fishing days are fixed, the below itinerary is still flexible should you require additional free days to explore at the beginning or end of your holiday; we can tailor this itinerary to suit you personally. Feel free to talk to our travel consultants who can explain all options available.
Depart UK (alternative routes available)
On arrival take a taxi to your overnight hotel (Not Included)
Spend the rest of the day relaxing and exploring Havana
Overnight accommodation: 4-star hotel Havana (Twin Room) B/B
In the morning you will meet in the hotel lobby for your transfer to the domestic airport and your flights to Cayo Coco.
Arrive Cayo Coco
On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel
Overnight accommodation: Hotel Spa Cayo Romano (Twin Room) F/B
A typical day of fishing will consist of a 7:00 AM: Wake-up call. 7:30 AM: Breakfast. 8:00 AM Fishing. Return late afternoon. Appetizer and dinner.
Each day fishing is based on two anglers per guide and skiff.
Fishing is normally done either from the skiff or wading the miles of great Bonefish flats.
Each morning you will discuss with your guide what fish you would like to target.
Overnight accommodation: Hotel Spa Cayo Romano (Twin Room) F/B
You will check out of your hotel and transfer back to Cayo Coco airport.
Depart Cayo Coco
On arrival in Havana take a taxi to your overnight hotel (Not Included)
Overnight accommodation: 4-star hotel Havana (Twin Room) B/B
Subject to your flight time, arrange an airport transfer with the hotel reception back to Havana airport. (Not Included)
Average Customer Satisfaction Score 76%
"The fishing was amazing, my husbands words not mine... He was very happy. The only comments I had was the food at the Casona. The choice was ok, but not the best quality food. I think its because I was looking for more of a nice resort hotel, but he wanted the amazing fishing. To be fair the holiday was as explained, I would just prefer a bit more luxury."
"Peter thanks for the trip the 4 of us had a great time. Took a bit of getting there but the extra time in Havana was nice as so much to see and do. Accommodation, food, fishing was good, fishing guides are some of the best I have ever fished with. We would all like to go back to Cuba, probably try some of the other locations just for a change."
"Went as a single angler but was made very welcome. I was lucky that during my visit there was a bunch of Canadians at the lodge who welcomed me into their group which was a nice touch and made the week all that special. We had a good fishing week and only 1 day of slight dodgy weather too much cloud. Great guides Enjoyed the whole experience."
The season runs from November to July.
Season: All year
Peak: April to June
Weight: 1LB to 12LB
Average Weight: 5LB
Season: All year
Peak: April to June
Weight: 1LB to 30LB
Average Weight: 10LB
Peak: April to May
Weight: 10LB to 130LB
Average Weight: 45LB
Remember that Sportquest Holidays' services are completely FREE! When you book a trip with Sportquest Holidays, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge and flights independently.
Prices are based on two adults sharing transfers, fishing and accommodation (unless otherwise stated) and are correct at the time of going to press. Subject to time of year or date and currency fluctuations, these prices may fluctuate slightly due to flight price increases or fuel surcharges.
The fishing was amazing, my husbands words not mine... He was very happy. The only comments I had was the food at the Casona. The choice was ok, but not the best quality food. I think its because I was looking for more of a nice resort hotel, but he wanted the amazing fishing. To be fair the holiday was as explained, I would just prefer a bit more luxury.
Pat, thank you for your comments. On one hand I am pleased that your husband enjoyed the holiday, however we do like to try and please everyone. Its like many fishing destinations the angler is easy to please as all have great fishing. Its trying to find a location that suits you both. I would suggest as we talked about on the phone to look at Belize next year, I will do you a special deal and I guarantee that you will return happier next time.
Peter thanks for the trip the 4 of us had a great time. Took a bit of getting there but the extra time in Havana was nice as so much to see and do.
Accommodation, food, fishing was good, fishing guides are some of the best I have ever fished with.
We would all like to go back to Cuba, probably try some of the other locations just for a change.
Thanks for the feedback as I discussed they are all important to not just us but everyone.
I will call you during the week and talk you through the different destinations, it will be good to look after you all again.
Went as a single angler but was made very welcome.
I was lucky that during my visit there was a bunch of Canadians at the lodge who welcomed me into their group which was a nice touch and made the week all that special.
We had a good fishing week and only 1 day of slight dodgy weather too much cloud.
Enjoyed the whole experience.
Andrew thanks for the call back and completing the customer feedback.
Sounds like you did have a great trip and congratulations on all the fish.
Talk again soon
Fab, Fab, Fab. There four of us had an amazing time. We were so lucky with the weather, clear skies and such little wind. The boats and guides top marks they all worked so hard. The best saltwater fishing holiday EVER Cheers Rodger
Hi guys, glad you had a great time. Its a great place and yes the guides do work hard especially when they are working for tips. The weather does play a big part in any fishing holiday but I am sure you are all good anglers. Thank you for the great comments and taking the time to complete the feedback form. Regards Peter
Would suggest that with this venue (Cayo Romano), anglers should be warned of 1 hour 20 minute transfer to fishing over mainly dirt road with many potholes. A tedious (and early) start to day. Aware that road will be improved on completion of hotel development in due course, but until this happens, visitors should be made aware of the situation.
Although have stated fishing "poor" below, this is no doubt due to weather, moon cycle, etc.
John it was nice talking to you on the phone about your trip. Shame the weather made the fishing difficult, its not often that the weather makes it so flat calm that all the fish are spooky, however these things do happen.
I am sorry about the journey each day and thank you for bringing this to our attention. Its a pain what used to be a 45 min run is now talking 1.2 hours due to all the construction traffic. We will make sure that all customers are aware of this situation as the construction is going to be ongoing for a while.
Thanks for your custom as always and look forward in assisting you both again soon.
Weather made the fishing difficult, our guide worked hard and spoke good English.
Customers should be aware that you are expected to get up at 5.30 pm every day and the journey to the boats takes 1hr 20mins due to all the building work currently taking place on the road.
We went via Toronto and then to Cayo Coco airport which is far better than Havana airport.
Accommodation basic but perfectly adequate, free laundry service is great, just leave on the floor and its all clean when you get back. The food was good everyday.
Harley, it was great talking to you on the telephone, shame the weather made the fishing difficult but as normal the fishing is always dependant on weather.
Thanks for the feedback about the accommodation, food and guides. It was also interesting to hear you talk about the quality of the fish, although less around as normal the average size of the Bonefish was good.
Have a safe trip in Bahamas in April and talk again soon
Kind Regards Peter
Caught my first Tarpon on the fly, not massive but a 20lb, it was a great way to start. Another great memory with you guys, thanks again.
Paulo congratulations on your first Tarpon. When you go back we will try to get you one of the real big girls. You have hooked them its just trying to land them.
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