It was really nice to get out of the pollution in Havana last weekend so I am on a roll to get out of it as much to see the country side. The combination of hot weather and crystal clear water just makes this boy want to blow unlimited bubbles. Cuba is the best place I have done scuba thus far. This past weekend, I took a solo trip to the Bay of Pigs in the south of the Matanzas province to get some more dives done. I planned to go with some people but they bailed last minute which was fine because I was only interested in spending time in the water and nothing else. I left the house in Vedado at about 6:30 am walked about 45 minutes to the Viazul bus station bought a one way ticket for Playa Girón then peaced out. The bus got there around 11:30 am after making about 2 stops; one for food and another to drop people off at Playa Larga, another dive resort town 30 minutes north of Girón. The bus leg from Larga to Girón was quite bumpy and I feared we might pop a tire at the mercy of the sea crabs that blanketed the road. It was breeding season for these high PH crabs on the shore thus they filled the streets daily. The bus crushed crab after crab after crab producing a craby odor in the bus. 30 minutes of crushing crabs, I arrived at the bus stop in Playa Girón. I had already made a reservation in a local Casa Particular for the night so next thing was to find the bici-taxi driver sent by the house to find me at the stop. This was futile so I got the only bici-taxi there to take me to the house hoping that my reservation was still active. I had never ridden in one of these before and it was something I was looking forward to crossing off my bucket list. The house was literarily a 10 minute ride from the town center and like I expected, my reservation was still intact but not at the house. They moved me 4 houses down into a smaller house because they were expecting a bigger group of tourists later that day which wasn’t a problem because the new house included free breakfast. I settled in real quick, listened to the owner of the house fail at trying to sell me an expensive dinner and some real expensive tourist trips that I wasn’t interested in. All the man wanted to do was dive but I listened to her then got her to put me in touch with the local dive shop. It was I think noon at this point and the shop was still out on their morning dive but they were due to return around 2 so to burn some time, I walked around and checked out the local museum which was filled with information on the US failed invasion of Cuba; the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Dive 1: Same day I arrived, I did a 20meter shore dive to a reef drop off with a German doctor, Timo, studying in Havana and one of the instructors, Joe. This was a routine reef dive up until the 35 minute mark when a whale shark about 30ft long swam above us at about 5ft and kept circling on top of us. I tried to get some pictures of it but I wasn’t quick enough. Interesting fact about whale sharks and the Bay of Pigs is that they only come close to shore 2 times a year and they are a very rare sighting. Rare enough that when someone sees them, word spreads through the town at the speed of lighting. I spoke to another instructor at the dive shop who had been diving at the Bay for 8 years and had not yet had the opportunity to see one. Joe said I was a lucky charm and thus I needed to dive with the same equipment in the morning. I spoke to Timo a little more after the dive and found out he was doing a year abroad in Cuba as part of his medical school studies in Germany. Unfortunately, he was leaving for Trinidad immediately so I couldn’t dive with him again but I took his number to try and plan a hang out in Havana.
Dive 2 & 3:
The next day, I got on the early morning dive bus which took us to Punta Perdiz for another reef wall dive. For these 2 dives, the depths ranged from 20 – 26m and there was a wreck on one of the reefs at about 16m. Apart from this there was nothing really interesting with it except an octopus which I missed and a grouper fish which I tried to touch.
Joe loved the camera on my phone and I think jokingly offered me a trade for it which I though was a good deal but I don’t really like the idea of losing my life companion just yet. The trade was my phone for $100 cash and $200 in dives. My counter proposal for him was 2 mullatas, an underwater digital camera and a free place to stay next time I come to the bay in exchange for my phone. We went back and forth laughing and making ridiculous proposals each time up until I saw the Viazul bus parked at the bus stop. I had they dive boat driver stop, said a quick good bye to the gang then bolted out to catch my return bus.
At the end of it all, this was my most successful trip from start to finish and I enjoyed being in the water. There are two other dive centers on the bay that I would like to go to if I have more time and more money towards the end of my trip but until that happens, I need to see other parts of the island.
Next trip: The City of Matanzas.