Here’s a good question that came in today from an adventurous Cuban + WoWCuba’s insider answer:
Q. Hi, I am a Cuban national interested in the diving courses offered in Cuba. Could you provide me with information on how can the Coast Guard authorization mentioned in the website [required only for Cuban nationals] be obtained? Thanks, Daniel
A. Hey Daniel, great to see you’re interested in diving into diving. It can be a rewarding activity and there’s no doubt Cuba’s a great place to discover the fascinating underwater world.
If you’re intending to perform a course which involves dives from a boat based at an int’l marina, then you have to submit a request for the “Permiso de Navegacion” from Capitania Nacional in Rpto Flores in Havana. Once it’s approved (not sure how long that’s taking these days, but I’d think you’d probably need several days to a week’s advance notice), then you bring a $5 CUC stamp from the bank. They’ll stick that to the signed/stamped paper they’ll give you to present to the marina to board the Gaviota &/ Marlin boats based at the selected international marina(s) for the specified activities/time period. You also have to present your passport or C.I. to coast guard officials for all boat departures.
In your request you should tell them you plan to dive / learn to dive / fish (or whatever your intended purpose is) from _____ dive center or marina in the time period from ____ to ____. We usually put my husband’s full name, Cuban identity card #, any other relevant information and maybe a contact # (on the off chance someone needed to call to check/advise anything). Anytime we do undertake this process, we usually ask for a time estimate on return and then call Capitania first to confirm whether the permiso’s ready to be picked up. Ya’ know the drill.
Worth mentioning you can get Open Water Diver certification with shore dives in locations like Hotel Copacabana or the Zapata Peninsula (except Caleta Buena, where dives are from a small dive skiff) without going through the above rigamarole. Hopefully one of these days they’ll do away with that silly rule, but for the moment it’s still in place and that’s how getting Abel’s authorization for the sailing/diving/fishing we’ve done together over the years in Cuba has always worked for us. It’s the same process for all Cubans, regardless of where they live (in Cuba or abroad) although there have been moments where it was easier to obtain for Cubans holding residence in a foreign country. Not really sure if that’s still the case, to be honest. Hopefully not.
Hope that helps clear things up and get you on the road to certification. Kristen