Boot Key Harbor
"Marathon- the Heart of the Florida Keys"

An On-Line Cruising Guide for the Florida Keys & Cuba
Best viewed at 1024x768 or higher


Mariel Hemingway Marina, Habana Cuba
There are also two modern hotels located at this Marina, so you can arrive by boat and stay in the hotel if you like. They are the Cubanacan Acuario, and the Hotel El Viejo del Mar. You have use of either of their swimming pools when you berth at the Marina.
For more Pictures of CUBA and these hotels - go to and go to the Photos page

For more waypoints, info on travel to Cuba, and necessary Coast Guard forms and customs information, go to the CUBA PAGE
DISCLAIMER: To all readers of this information, including U.S. Government agencies, officials and representatives:  Nothing in this website does, nor is intended to, encourage illegal activity of any type whatsoever including illegally spending money in Cuba or violation of any part of the U.S. Embargo against Cuba or any other law by U.S. citizens or others. We believe all information reported here, and all activity within this organization and website, to be within the allowed scope of the law, and all readers are encouraged to validate this for themselves. The purpose of information presented on this website is simply to help people in both Cuba and the U.S.. We hereby assert our claim to all of our U.S. Constitutional Rights including Freedom of Speech.

Rooms of the hotel Acuario are seen on the left in this photo, and below.


The Mariel Hemingway resort marina beach area. It has water toys such as wave runners and sailboards. Tennis, volleyball, soccer. Papa's nightclub is shown here toward the left. Chan Chan's nightclub is at the other end of the marina. Two resort hotels (very affordable) are also located on the property.
During the summer of 2002 they've put up what amounts to a small amusement park for kids - with confined play areas and a small "bumper cars" ride.


GPS Sea Buoy at entrance to Hemmingway Marina
23 05.358N 082 30.522W

Our supply trips on Creative Touch are done under Treasury Dept licenses as a humanitarian effort. US Citizens, without proper authorization, are not prohibited from traveling to Cuba per se, only spending any money there. If you take a citizen of another country along (like Canadian) and they pick up the tabs for you, then you can go plus have them spend money for you.

Unless you are "hosted" by someone in Cuba or elsewhere (in which case it's free to you), then the marina charges about .51/ft per night plus reasonable electric & water (2002). Facilities are modern. Good diesel and gasoline is available.

Hemingway Marina:  Call on VHF 72. - see below for arrival procedures
Marina Hemingway
248 y 5ta Avenida
Santa Fe Playa, Ciudad de La Habana
Tel: (53 7) 29 7270,  Fax (53 7) 24 5280, E-mail:
   *Note: 53 is the country code for Cuba, 7 the City Code for Habana


From the bridge of "Creative Touch", making landfall in Havana Cuba.

Offshore, passing Havana enroute to Mariel Hemmingway marina, which is about 10 miles West of the City.


The Sea Buoy (RW) at the entrance to Mariel Hemmingway Marina channel. It's located at 23 05.358N, 082 30.522W. For boaters, it's VERY important to approach the channel directly from this buoy. Don't cut corners because the narrow channel passes right through a very shallow reef. It's obvious when you see it in daylight, but start from the buoy, then line straight up with the Red and Green Daymarks to come straight in to the channel. DO NOT DEVIATE.

Kids on daysailers at the entrance channel to the marina. January 2002

Customs/Immigration docks where you check in (down past the sailboat on the left)
We've entered the main channel, then turned left and are looking straight down the approach to the Marina. The docks where you check in with authorities are on your left, just past the sailboat in this picture. Call the Marina first on VHF 72 while you're 5-10 miles out.

Some of the Guarda awaiting us to begin check in procedures. These guys are businesslike but friendly and helpful. You must be very patient, and totally forthcoming about all persons and equipment on board. See below for check-in procedures.

This is the building at the customs/immigration dock. They'll interview you on your own boat as shown at the right, so you don't have to go in.

Capn Greg aboard M/V Creative Touch clearing in with the Guarda at Hemmingway.

90 Percent of the boats in Marina Hemingway are American. US Authorities are aware of this.

Habana itself, and Old Habana, is about 10 miles East of Hemingway marina. You can take a cab for $10-$15 each way, or you can get a local driver for about $35/day plus fuel (2001). This becomes a very good deal because you have a local who knows their way around, plus usually speaks reasonable English as a translator. Our recommendation is to ask for Alex (Alejandro), a young cuban who is a retired soviet fighter pilot. He speaks excellent English. Call him at 271-62-81 or 271-93-17, or go into the lobby at Hotel El Viejo y El Mar and ask the concierge for him. Isaura, the public relations person at the marina, can also get in contact with Alex. Tell them Capn Greg on "Creative Touch" sent you.


The swimming pool at Mariel Hemingway Marina is very pleasant. Many of the local Cuban families also enjoy it's facilities.

- Though it is very helpful to speak Spanish or bring along someone who does, it isn't really necessary. You can get by speaking only English. You call Marina Hemingway Marina on VHF CH 16 and/or 72 about 10 miles out or so (sometimes don't get a response until 5 miles out). Technically you're supposed to start making calls when you enter territorial waters 12 miles offshore - but many times they can't hear you or don't respond then. Don't worry about it - they're OK with it as long as you're going right into Hemingway marina and not trying to sightsee up and down the coast. You'll be directed toward the customs / immigration docks immediately to your left upon arrival. Be patient. The Cubanos are friendly enough but they each have a job to do and it will take some time - Maybe 2 hours. You need your passport. They will ask you whether you want them to put the Cuban stamp directly in it, or separately on a piece of paper. Fly your yellow quarantine flag until you've cleared with the doctor, then you can fly your Cuban courtesy ensign. You'll clear through the doctor (quarantine), customs, immigration, agriculture, coast guard, etc.. We suggest the offering of soft drinks, beer, snacks and small gifts - rather than "tipping" in cash. Be friendly and honest. You'll have drug and gun sniffing dogs brought aboard your boat, and a diver will sometimes go under your boat to check it out. You of course must have your passport and they'll ask you whether you want it stamped directly or on a separate insert. You'll buy your Visa from them for $15 per person (Nov 2002). Once cleared you'll be assigned a slip (they're all along sea walls - no finger piers) down one of 4 canals (see the chart by clicking the link below). The electrician will come by to plug you into electricity. They meter the electric and water. The water there has been good. You can arrange for a rental car, though it's easier to arrange for a driver at about $35/day (ask for Alex, he speaks good English too). There are at least 3 restaurants within the marina complex. They have a ship's store in the marina office, and at the other end they have tourist dollar stores where you can buy groceries, gifts, clothes, Cuban cigars, rum, beer and other alcohol (beer is cheaper in the ship's store). Someone will come by to offer a wash down on your boat ($) or any repairs (Ask for Johnny (Yonny) to wash your boat). If you want anything arranged at all just ask for Isaura in the dockmasters office - she's the public relations person - like a marina concierge. Your guests can stay on the boat or at either of the on-property resort hotels. There is of course no cable TV - many boaters use satellite & it works fine there (settings are 52.7 elev. and 223 azimuth). Diesel and gas is available, and I've had no problems with the quality of the diesel fuel. Diesel's running about $3 or more per US gallon equivalent.
Clearing out is in reverse. You go to the Marina office (or call on the radio & he'll come to you) and pay the dockmaster in cash, then start clearing out with the officials. I would strongly recommend AGAINST trying to smuggle out large numbers of cigars or anything else. Also be aware, that though very friendly and obliging, the Cuban officials don't take kindly to illicit drugs of any type, nor firearms. Pornographic material is similarly frowned upon. You're boat is perfectly safe in the Marina - you are at much higher risk from the American and other tourists than the Cubans. The Cubanos will watch out after your boat. They want you to come back. If you travel from Port to Port within Cuba you'll need to complete this clearing process at every Port.
Cubans (except marina workers and officials) will not be allowed upon your boat while in Port. Marina security is vigilant to enforce this 24 hrs per day. Also - if you're taking gifts & donations for Cuban people, you're allowed (Cuban regulations) up to about 22 lbs per person on your boat for such distribution.  You can bring in anything else you want but you'd have to pay a duty on it which is equivalent to the original purchase price in the first place.


Boot Key Harbor website created and maintained by Capt. Gregory T. Absten, Marathon.  - A Boater's Guide to the Florida Keys & Cuba
Copyright 2000-2012 Gregory T. Absten