You are not supposed to sail to Guajimico Cuba.
While it is a picturesque hillside beach resort, Guajimico is not a port of entry, so no officials are on site to confirm that it is ok for you to be there. For that reason, anchoring in the charming cove is frowned on and going ashore or to the dock is strictly a no-no. Most charter companies don’t even mention Guajimico for these reasons, and we only learned of it because we begged for a possible last night stop option other than the marina.
All that said, thank goodness Guajimico was on our radar. Here’s how it went down.
How we ended up in Guajimico
Our sail plan had us leaving Cienfuegos early in the morning and heading East, with the ultimate destination of Cayo Blanco, which was a straight 50-ish nautical miles ahead. A long day of sailing, but totally doable, we thought, especially since the wind and weather were supposed to have us on a catamaran-friendly beam reach in strong 20 knot winds. We were pretty sure it would be an epic day!
But not in the way we anticipated. Those 20 knot winds were upwards of 30 – 35 knots and directly in our face. We tried motor sailing but could never get our speed higher than 4.5 nm per hour. The rigging and motor on that boat were simply not well-suited for the journey. We determined that taking the sails down and motoring straight there might be our best chance, but with the wind pushing against our 38 ft catamaran La Perla, our top speed was just a bit more than 3 nm per hour. You do the math. We were never going to make it.
Around 1:30 pm having barely made it anywhere and knowing at the pace we were going we would definitely be reaching our reef-surrounded destination in the dark, we turned around and headed to off-the-radar Guajimico, the only option other than heading all the way back to the Marina.
Guajimico is about 15 nm from the marina and it took us all of an hour sailing from our turn-around point to get there. In all our time sailing, we had only made it about 20 nm.
What we loved about Guajimico
When we motored through the short, marked channel and into the cove, we were thrilled! Not only did it meet our “safe for the night” criteria, which was basically all we wanted at that point, but it was a completely charming, well-protected safe haven in contrast to the battering waves and wind we’d experienced for most of the day.
Our chart book recommended anchoring in 1 ½ to 2 meters of water just beyond the dock, so that is exactly what we did. Once safe, we looked around. Beautiful rolling mountains in the distance and colorful cabins lining a sandy beach. There were a few resort guests enjoying the beach, and a fisherman in a small boat emerged at dusk to try his luck on the East side of the cove.
Immediately upon arrival, a welcoming committee of two Pelicans joined our boat and were extended permission to come aboard. They hung out on our dinghy and transom for about an hour, waiting for us to share fish which we didn’t have. When the fisherman showed up, they wisely headed his way.
We had the place to ourselves until well after dark when another catamaran arrived and anchored directly in the middle of the channel, presumably playing it extra safe (or not safe, depending on your perspective).
Our calm, quiet night in Guajimico was exactly what we needed after the day’s several-hour inefficient slog into the wind. If you need a Plan B sailing East from Cienfuegos, Guajimico may very well be your only option. It’s a good one!
What you need to know if you stay there
Finding Guajimico by site isn’t easy, so you’ll want to use the Latitude 21 55.65 N and then the Longitude of 80 18.80 W as you motor toward shore. As you get close, you’ll see the channel markers and a colorful cabin to the left. Note that the lights on the channel buoys did not work when we were there, so be cautious and use a spotlight if you are approaching after dark.
Once in, you may see a dive boat anchored South of the dock. Our advice would be to head past it and anchor about 40 feet past the dock. The water level is consistent between 1 ½ to 2 meters, so just keep an eye on your depth finder and you will be fine. Fortunately holding is good in the area.
It’s been said already, but I’ll say it again. You can enjoy the scenery, but you should not go ashore or to the dock. You must stay on your boat. If you want to go on land during your Cuba sailing charter adventure, that’s ok and entirely advisable, but stick to the beautiful islands and ports of entry like Trinidad.