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Gardens Of The King Cuba Amazing Saltwater Fly Fishing

Customer Rating 88%
Tour Code CUB009  

Fly Fishing Cayo Santa Maria

Gardens of the King (GOK) or Cayo Santa Maria, as it’s also known, is an Archipelago that lies just off the northern coast of Cuba. Named for the king of Spain in the sixteenth century, this archipelago is part of the UNESCO recognized Buenavista Biosphere Reserve and is viewed as one of the most precious spots in all of the Caribbean. Its beautiful white sandy beaches, warm, clear water, intact nature, and thriving wildlife populations are highly regarded by visiting tourists, and it’s a very desirable destination amongst the saltwater fly fishing community.

Famed for its coral wall, which runs for over 400 kilometres, making it the second-largest barrier reef in the world, behind only the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and its significant Cays, GOK is renowned as a Tarpon Paradise. Heavily protected and well managed, with a ban on all commercial fishing, apart from a sustainable Lobster fishery, the Tarpon population has thrived, and it’s now viewed as one of the best destinations in the Caribbean for catching big Tarpon on the fly.

As well as the big Tarpon, it’s also home to all the traditional flats species like Bonefish, Permit and Snook, as well as a range of reef species like Baracuda, Jacks and Snapper. With the new fishery management focused on marine life preservation and a ‘good health’ ecosystem, the fishing just keeps getting better and better, month after month, year after year.

Best Tarpon Fishing In Cuba

The Tarpon make this area famous for fly fishing, and abundant numbers of resident fish between 10lb and 60lb are present all year round. However, from the beginning of March through to August, the Gardens of the King begins to see the huge migratory Tarpon, with monster specimens of over 140lb present across the ecosystem. These fish provide a real test for even the most experienced fly angler.

Due to GOK’s vast array of Cays, some bigger than many countries across the globe, and its network of channels and canals, the Tarpon fishing spots can be easily determined, as they use these like roadways to pass freely from the flats to the open sea. Some of these areas can be up to 20ft deep; however, in most cases, they range from 3ft to 6ft. When fishing in this shallow, clear water, the fish are easily spotted, and even in deeper water, it’s common to observe them rolling in schools. The Skiffs will position themselves ahead of the school in these scenarios, and anglers will fish for them with interception casts.

As well as Tarpon, the region also supports a massive Bonefish population, with the fish scattered across the whole area of flats and mangrove vegetation. These can be targeted from the Skiffs or by wading. The Permit is another species that frequent the waterways and is the last to make up the famed ‘Grand Slam’. Some genuinely huge specimens often referred to as ‘floaters’ to over 40lb, can be caught in the deeper water, although they average between 15lb to 30lb.

A Typical Day At Cayo Santa Maria In Cuba

Gardens of the King is ideal for fly-fisherman who wish to live and experience fishing from dawn till dusk, as at GOK, they offer more fishing hours than any other destination, and the fishing hours are totally at the discretion of the angler.

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 fifteen minutes after setting off for the day.

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 Gardens of the King (GOK) or Cayo Santa Maria, as it’s also known, visit our YouTube channel

Peak Season & Weather

The peak season in GOK runs from February to June, as this is the time of year when all species are present within the area. Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit are all abundant, and without doubt, these months gives the anglers trying to achieve a grand slam the very best chance. In the region, many ‘Slams’ get completed each season and a handful of Super Grand Slams, which are the big three flats species, Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit with the addition of a Snook. In the latter part of the season, when the weather is hot, the fishing is still equally productive, especially for Tarpon and Permit. However, Bonefishing is better during these weeks in the early morning and late evening. One statistic to back up the promising summer phenomenon is that the same number of fish get caught during the warmer months as in the peak season but by half the number of rods.

The temperature in Jardines del Rey or Gardens of the King Archipelago is warmer than that of the Bahamas, with an average temperature of 75 degrees F in January. These fair-weather conditions during the mid-winter months are perfect for fly fishing. August is the warmest month with an average temperature of 83 degrees F.

The fishing season runs from November until August, thus avoiding the hurricane period during September and October. The beginning of the season from November to January is excellent, and this is a nice time to visit, as the weather is much warmer in Cuba than in Europe.

Accommodation

The Iberostar resort is a beautiful, all-inclusive resort located on Cayo Ensenachos. With 5 star accommodations and amenities, this resort will please anglers and non-anglers alike.

Located just a short walk from a beautiful white-sand beach, Ensenachos has a full range of Double Spa Suite rooms, four restaurants, nine bars, five swimming pools, and many other features to keep guests happy and entertained.

The Iberostar has two sides: the ‘Park’ side, which is family-friendly, and the other is the ‘Spa’ side, which is adults only. Both sides have swim-up bars, and they both share the buffet in the main building and the a la carte restaurants on site.

There is also a Grand Village section, which is entirely separate.

For all fishing operations, the Spa Suites or Grand Village is usually the preferred accommodation; however, it’s possible to book into the Park suites that allow kids if you’re travelling with the family.

At the resort, the staff are some of the best you will ever have the pleasure of meeting while in the Caribbean, and everyone is friendly and willing to help every time, ensuring your stay is as pleasurable as possible.

The flat Skiffs are located at the marina on Cayo Las Brujas, a short 6-mile drive from the resort.

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Itinerary

TAILOR-MADE HOLIDAYS

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.

Day 1: (Friday)

Depart UK (alternative routes available)

Arrive Havana

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

Day 2: (Saturday)

You will be picked up from your overnight hotel and transferred by road (Approx 5 Hours) to Cayo Santa Maria.

Check in to your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day and evening

Overnight accommodation: Iberostar Ensenachos 5 Star Resort (Twin Room) F/B

Days 3 to 8: Fishing Days (Sunday to Friday)

Over the next 6 full days, you will depart at around 8.00 am with guides for your full days fishing. fishing is based on 2 anglers per guide and skiff. Fishing is normally done either from the skiff or wading the flats.

Overnight accommodation: Iberostar Ensenachos 5 Star Resort (Twin Room) F/B

Day 9: (Saturday)

You will be transferred back to Havana by road (Approx 5 Hours) Check in to your overnight hotel and the rest of the time is free to enjoy your last night in Havana.

Overnight accommodation: 4-star hotel Havana (Twin Room) B/B

Day 10: (Sunday)

Subject to your flight time, you will arrange an airport transfer with the hotel reception back to Havana airport.

Depart Havana

Day 11: (Monday)

Arrive UK

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Satisfaction Score 88%

View all reviews

FISHING Seasons

The season runs from All year.

Bonefish

Season: March to July - October to April
Peak: April to May
Weight: 1LB to 11LB
Average Weight: 5LB

Permit

Season: March to July - October to April
Peak: April to May
Weight: 1LB to 30LB
Average Weight: 10LB

Tarpon

Season: March to July - October to April
Peak: April to May
Weight: 1LB to 60LB
Average Weight: 15LB

Package Details

Prices from
£4,690
per person

Included

  • All international flights
  • 2 nights accommodation 4-star hotel Havana B/B
  • Accommodation s Iberostar Ensenachos All-Inclusive 5 Star Resort
  • 6 full days guided fishing
  • Fishing License’s
  • Packed lunch while fishing
  • Beverages while fishing with a max of 3 beers pr client pr day
  • Marine Park License

Excluded

  • Personal holiday insurance
  • Tips for guides and staff
  • Fishing tackle
  • Cuban visa

Optional extras

  • Flight upgrades
  • Direct Virgin flights
  • Additional nights in Havana
  • Additional nights Cayo Largo

Price Supplements

N/A

View Latest Availability

Dates, Prices & Availability

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.

Departing Returning Days Price Availability
01/08/2022 19/02/2023 11 £4,690 Enquire Now
20/02/2023 27/03/2023 11 £5,393 Enquire Now
28/03/2023 03/07/2023 11 £6,130 Enquire Now
04/07/2023 31/07/2023 11 £5,393 Enquire Now
01/08/2022 19/02/2023 11 £4,690 Enquire Now

Price Notes

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.

Make an Enquiry

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Reviews

Malcolm

Both me and my wife had a great time, it was the first time we had used Sportquest and can honestly say I could not fault it. Your lady in Cuba Idania was a great asset, although she had a broken foot she took care of everything for me and my wife. The fishing was as described so well recommended.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Malcolm it was a pleasure in talking to you on the phone about your trip, I am so happy that you both enjoyed it. It was a pleasure dealing with you from start to finish. Also thank you for taking the time to rate the holiday, look forward to the next time.

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

William

My wife and I both had some red hot tarpon fishing. We did manage to locate fish both rolling in the channels and on the large flats. Nothing can describe watching large Tarpon rise of the bottom and engulf your fly. Thats another one of my bucket list but still plenty more to achieve.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

William, I love those Tarpon pictures, you both look so so happy. Glad that everything turned out as expected. Not sure whats left on your bucket list but when we talk lets look to see if we can tick a few more off. Kind regards Peter

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Rebecca

What a wonderful holiday...

We have only been back a couple of weeks, (Sorry for the late feedback) but we are all still missing Cayo Largo. We are talking to our friends and it looks like there will be more couples returning next year.

Amazing advice from Sport quest who took care of everything. Some of the travel advice & tips were a great help.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Rebecca

Thank you for finding the time to send back the feedback very much appreciated.

I have been trying to call you all since you have returned but keep missing you.

No worries just give me a call when you have sorted things out with your friends and I can take care of everything again.

Tight lines

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Darren

The fishing and area was just so unspoilt. I knew it was a trek each morning but everyday was worth it ten times over. We will be back soon.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Darren, the area is stunning so glad it lived up to your expectations. I have been there and the walk across the flats is awesome and knowing whats at the end of it makes the walk all worth while

I know they would gladly have you back anytime

Regards

Jack

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Terrance

We had a great time and you were spot on with the Bonefish, it was just amazing

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Thanks Terry, it was pleasure to help both of you. Once you had said you wanted an ideal place for both of you, this destination just jumped out at us. Hope to help you again another day

Regards

Peter

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Gary

I just never wanted to stop watching Tarpon busting and rolling just under my flies; has to be the best way of fishing in the world. Top trip.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Hi Gary, it is one of my personal favourite ways of fishing. Its just so exciting and leaves you on the edge every time

Look forward to seeing all your pictures

Regards

Peter

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Paul

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.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Paul, it was a pleasure as always. Glad you managed a few Tarpon and told you to try the fly and i bet you will never go back

Regards

Paul

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Richard

Thank you to all the guides for taking good care of us all. I got a Tarpon to stick and stay on in the end. I think i was driving the guides mad but they never showed it. Great fun, see you next time.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

I did mention how hard it was to get a good hook hold…. So glad after some time you boated one. It looked like the other guys in the party done just as well.

The guides are very experienced and are use to the Tarpon throwing the hooks

I believe Simon from your party has been in contact already about next year

Speak to you soon

Regards

Phil

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Mr And Mrs Roy

Got my first Bonefish over 10lb, something I will never forget and never thank you enough for.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Glad we could help. it is a great family destination and there is more than enough for the non fishing members of the group

Regards

Mel

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Jack

Perfect for couples, we had it all thanks a million.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Jack, thank you for taking the time to reply, It was nice talking to you on the telephone and I am very happy that you both enjoyed your stay. It was a pleasure dealing with you both and I look forward until next time. Regards Peter

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Julie

Disappointed... the weather was dreadful, the hotel is to commercialised.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Julie, thank you for taking the time to talk to me on the telephone about your holiday. Firstly I am sorry that the weather spoiled your holiday. Cuba got hit by a tropical storm which can happen in low season and this unfortunately is nothing we can control. The low season is priced at a cheaper rate for this exact reason as these things can happen at this time of year. In relation to the resort accommodation, let me apologize if we got your requirements wrong. We thought that you wanted good quality accommodation, which in Cuba is only available in these large hotel complexes. As Cuba is such a poor country there isn't available small private run cosy hotels that have any good fishing close by. Regards Peter

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Frank

We returned home yesterday and what a nice welcome home from Sportquest.

You made my family feel special from the beginning. I can not rate your company high enough. Peter you should be very proud as your company certainly stands heads above the competition, and I should know as I have used them before but from now on never again.

My family and I loved the hotel so not sure what the other comment was all about, yes it is a commercial resort but that is just what we wanted, somewhere my family can enjoy what they wanted while my son and I had 6 days fishing.

The staff, guides and fishing was first class, if you are thinking of a saltwater fly fishing holiday with your family Cayo largo is a perfect destination. It is not the cheapest but I believe you always get what you pay for.

Full marks again all round

Cheers Frank

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Frank

Thank you for such a nice review, however I am sure people will think I paid you to say that :)

So glad that you and all the family had such a good time as it makes our job worth while when we receive nice feedback like this.

It was also good catching up on the telephone and I will forward you all the information as discussed, along with a memory stick for your pictures.

Until next time

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Andy

We travelled as 2 couples with us men fishing while the ladies relaxed. Cayo Largo was the perfect mixture for everyone.

The fly fishing for Bones & Permit was full on and are happy to report that both Kevin and myself managed to catch several permit.

Guides and fishing is first rate.

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Andy thanks for the feedback and review.

I was certain that this would suit you all and are very pleased it all turned out as I thought. You are both good fly anglers so had no worries about you connecting with lots of fish.

Congratulations with the permit, have to get you both on some GT's next time.

Tight lines

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Carl

Peter

As usual, well organised, staff waiting to assist at, airport ,hotel and fishing lodge.

My guide was excellent and spoke very good English,----he was determined that I would achieve the grand slam---and we did.

I now have to decide which of your trips to go on next,

Being a single angler I do look for accommodations which are not penalised for single occupancy------it makes a vast difference.

THANK YOU ALL at Sportquest

Carl

Response from Sportquest Holidays

Carl

It is a pleasure having you on any of our trips as always.

So glad you had a good time and that the staff took very good care of you.

Also a huge congratulations on achieving your very first Grand Slam

I look forward in booking you something else soon, it iOS about time I had you back on one of my hosted fly fishing adventures as you know I will also look after you very well.

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Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

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