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Zapata Cuba The Jewel In Cuba's Crown

Customer Rating 90%
Tour Code CUB031

Fly Fishing Zapata Peninsula

Many years ago, the land and flats of the Zapata Swamp was just an area where charcoal got produced, precious wood extracted, and crocodile and deer hunted. But fast forward to early 2000, and this all changed, as UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – declared the wetlands, which occupy the entire Zapata peninsula and surrounding areas, a biosphere reserve. A year later, the Ramsar Convention included it on its list of international importance, and two years later, it was declared a World Heritage Site. Now Zapata is one of the most protected and best-preserved wetlands systems in the Caribbean.

Just over 9,000 people populate the 4,322 square kilometre area, making it the most sparsely populated municipality in Cuba. Above the water, its wealth lies in the vast forests and swamps, and more than 165 migratory and autochthonous species call the destination home. Below the water is equally impressive, and its warm crystal clear waters are rich with life and home to all manner of marine species, including abundant populations of Tarpon, Bonefish and Permit. These species, the remote nature of the destination, and the vast protected areas of wetlands attract saltwater fly fishing anglers from all around the globe.

With only eight anglers allowed to fish the thousands of kilometres of waters in and around Zapata each week, many area’s have never seen an angler. From a saltwater fly fishing perspective, the destination is in its infancy and is special, and a real jewel in Cuba’s ecological crown.

Saltwater Fly Fishing Zapata

Zapata has an incredible array of diverse habitats that are home to a wide range of fish species. As you’d expect, the traditional flats species and those associated with the Grand Slam and Super Slam are prominent – Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit and Snook. However, head slightly further offshore to the blue holes and coral heads, and you’ll find huge Cubera Snapper, Barracuda, Jack Crevalle and a whole host of other reef fish.

Bonefish

The destination is home to nearly limitless super shallow, hard sand flats, which provide the perfect habitat for Bonefish. It’s possible to target these fish poling from the boat, or if wading tailing fish is more your thing, then there are miles upon miles of easily wadable water. The populations are abundant, and they get found in great numbers all across the whole ecosystem. Even though Bonefish is 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.

Permit

Dozens of kilometres of shallow lagoons and pancakes flats popping up from deep water provide the perfect habitat for Permit. These fish range in size between 8lb and 30lb and are some of the most fickle yet rewarding of all saltwater game fish. Typically identified by their protruding coal-black forked tails, they can provide a challenge to even the most experienced fly fishing anglers.

Tarpon

The scores of narrow mangrove channels and lagoons provide the ideal hunting ground for juvenile Tarpon, and fish between 10lb and 40lb are common. However, fishing on the edges of the expansive turtle grass and white sand flats will see you in with a chance of a much larger specimen, with fish to over 80lb landed each season. 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.

Zapata is the ideal destination for those saltwater fly fishing anglers who like a bit of variation. It offers opportunities for anglers to catch different species while fishing different types of flats in a combination of both wade and boat fishing.

To find out more about saltwater fly fishing in Cuba at Zapata, visit our YouTube channel

Single Angler Skiffs

One of the things that make the fishing programme in Zapata so unique is the vast amount of skinny water available at the saltwater fly anglers disposal. However, due to the remote nature of the destination and wild marine landscape, much of the water is too shallow to access with traditional flats skiffs, so for this reason, the Zapata operation utilizes four custom-built ‘single anglers’ skiffs. These boats, constructed from a very light fibreglass mould, are ideal for the miles and miles of shallow water, are powered by 40 HP Yamaha engines, and can draw less than 6 inches of water. They have been specially designed to accept one solo angler and one guide.

On each fishing day at Zapata, four anglers will fish from these single boats, with the other four fishing two-to-a-boat, along with a guide, in a traditional Dolphin Skiff. This schedule rotates throughout the fishing week so that each angler can fish solo for three days and share a boat and guide for the other three days. There is no other destination in Cuba that offers solo fishing as a part of their weekly program or where travelling anglers will receive such a considerable amount of fishing time and at no additional cost.

The single angler flats boats are perfect for navigating and fishing Bonefish and Permit in the shallow backcountry, while the double Skiffs are more suitable for Tarpon fishing and making long runs to the fishing grounds further to the West.

A Typical Day Saltwater Fly Fishing In Zapata

Zapata 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 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 8.00am. The skiffs on the liveaboard get accessed from the boat’s deck, and you can generally be fishing within one or two minutes after setting off. The liveaboard Georgiana explores the remote wetlands of this Ramsar Site and reaches areas beyond any land-based flats skiffs, fishing waters that rarely see other anglers.

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.

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 on liveaboard 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.

Accommodation

This Georgiana is a 100-foot, custom-built yacht that can accommodate groups of eight anglers at a time. The boat features six comfortable cabins, four single cabins and two double occupancy cabins, each fitted with bunks and private bathrooms. The interior areas of the ship and all staterooms are air-conditioned.

It features a spacious dining, living and bar area, as well as an outdoor barbeque. There is also a sun deck where you can enjoy the fantastic views of deserted white sandy beaches, rocky islands and seemingly endless flats.

The boat is the ideal base of operations for exploring the mangrove wilderness and wild backcountry of the Zapata Peninsula. The ship gets strategically anchored in a well-protected location that allows easy access to the most productive flats and fishing areas in reserve. Typically the Georgiana moors in two different locations within the fishery during the week.

Wi-Fi is not available onboard the Georgiana, which means that you will be offline once you board the ship.

Food and Drink

The galley aboard the Georgiana takes pride in serving a diverse menu of traditional Cuban food, fresh seafood, and various international dishes. Breakfasts get cooked to order each morning, and lunches can be packed for a full day on the flats or enjoyed back on the ship at midday.

Fresh fish gets utilized for most meals, and salads with fresh vegetables and various fruits are always available. In addition, you’ll have excellent pork and chicken entrees, fresh sashimi, and Italian-style pizzas for appetizers. All dinners typically include a great line-up of fresh seafood and are served with wine, local liquors, and desserts.

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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)

Our representatives will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you that afternoon to the small port village of Base de la Pesca, located between Playa Larga and Playa Giron on the Bay of Pigs, an approximate 2.5-hour drive on paved roads. From here transfer directly to the liveaboard, meet the crew and guides, settle into your staterooms and get gear rigged.

The rest of the evening will be spent relaxing and getting prepared for your next few days fishing.

Overnight accommodation: MV Georgiana (Twin Room) F/B

DAY 3: HALF DAY FISHING (SUNDAY)

Once the sun comes up, the MV Georgiana will depart the dock to motor out to the fishing grounds at Zapata. It takes approximately 2.5-3.5 hours (depending on the weather) to the motor to the anchor point in Las Salinas. Reaching the first mooring, everyone will head out in the skiffs for the first day of fishing, until dark.

Overnight accommodation: MV Georgiana (Twin Room) F/B

DAYS 4 TO 8: FISHING DAYS (MONDAY TO FRIDAY)

Over the next 5 full days, we’ll focus on zones and skiff rotation, so you can fish 3 days in a single skiff/guide and 3 days in a double skiff/guide. With this, we ensure you access to the better areas of our fishing zone. For skinny waters flats, you will be fishing from the flat bottom single skiff, so you can access the best areas for bonefish and permit, with our dolphin double skiff you could fish the best waters for tarpon and travel by deeper water further from the yacht.

Overnight accommodation: MV Georgiana (Twin Room) F/B

DAY 9: (SATURDAY)

There is an early wake-up call and breakfast on your last morning aboard MV Georgiana. The mothership will then head back to port in order to meet the bus that will transfer you to  Havana. On arrival in Havana take a taxi to your overnight hotel.

Enjoy your last night in Havana.

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

DAY 10: (SUNDAY)

Subject to your flight time, arrange an airport transfer with the hotel reception back to Havana airport. (Not Included)

Depart Havana

DAY 11: (MONDAY)

Arrive UK

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Satisfaction Score 90%

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FISHING Seasons

The season runs from .

Bonefish

Season: All year
Peak: April to June
Weight: 1LB to 12LB
Average Weight: 5LB

Permit

Season: All year
Peak: April to June
Weight: 1LB to 30LB
Average Weight: 10LB

Tarpon

Season: All year
Peak: April to May
Weight: 10LB to 130LB
Average Weight: 45LB

Package Details

Prices from
£4,911
per person

Included

  • All international flights
  • Transfers to/from Jucaro MV Georgiana
  • 2 nights accommodation 4-star Hotel Havana B/B
  • 7 nights accommodation on MV Georgiana
  • 5.5 days guided fishing
  • Fishing License’s
  • Packed lunch while fishing

Excluded

  • Personal holiday insurance
  • Tips for guides and staff
  • Fishing tackle
  • Cuban visa
  • US$120.00 Mandatory conservation fee.
  • All-Inclusive Open Bar US$200.00 per person.

Optional extras

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

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
31/07/2022 01/10/2022 11 £4,911 Enquire Now
19/02/2023 26/03/2023 11 £6,075 Enquire Now
27/03/2023 02/07/2023 11 £6,496 Enquire Now
03/07/2023 30/07/2023 11 £6,075 Enquire Now
31/07/2023 01/10/2023 11 £5,023 Enquire Now

Price Notes

Prices are based on two adults sharing transfers, fishing and accommodation staying on the MV Georgiana (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.

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+44 (0)1603 407596
sales@sportquestholidays.com
16 Alston Road
Hellesdon Park
Norwich
Norfolk
NR6 5DS

Reviews

Stuart

If you're looking at a trip saltwater fly fishing then I'd 100% recommend Zapata. The Bonefish fishing was incredible and I even landed some nice Tarpon. On the final day, I came within a whisker of my first grand slam too, but unfortunately, the Permit just eluded me! The single angler skiffs were excellent and the guides very knowledgeable, the liveaboard was quite a unique experience too. Overall a brilliant trip!

Fishing
Guides
Accommodation
Meals
Staff & Service
Flights
Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Ray

A fantastic week at a fantastic destination. I'd never previously stayed on a liveaboard and was a little unsure about it, but it was an excellent experience - the Georgiana Liveaboard was well equipped and the staff, food and facilities were first class. The fishing was brilliant too, the guides were incredibly knowledgeable and each day I landed some good Bonefish. A big thanks to everyone involved in making my trip happen!

Fishing
Guides
Accommodation
Meals
Staff & Service
Flights
Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

Sean

What a place! I've saltwater fly fished a few different destinations around the world but this has to be one of the best places I've ever wet a line. The single angler skiffs were something that really appealed to me and it was lovely, without being greedy, to have the water and boat all to myself. Throughout the week and each day, I landed numerous Bonefish of all sizes.

Fishing
Guides
Accommodation
Meals
Staff & Service
Flights
Would use Sportquest again
Would recommend Sportquest

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