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Breezes Jibacoa questions- leaving Van next Friday

So, having never been to Cuba before and reading a lot of great info on this board, a few questions:

  • what does “dress code” for dinner mean here for men and women ?
  • is the exchange rate from Cdn $'s to CUC’s ok at this hotel or should I change most at the airport ?
  • do they have life vests to use when snorkeling ? We will bring own snorkel gear but vest is too bulky ( and I’d like one to venture out further ). Are these in limited supply as the loaner snorkel gear ?
  • anyone have a "what not to miss with one day in Havana list " ? Depending on weather, we might do two days but would like to hear highlights .
  • haven’t been to an AI in 15 years… any "what not to do’s " ? ( besides being a drunken bum everyday :slight_smile: )

I am so looking forward to leaving this Vancouver weather…

Thanks for the help…

We’re leaving for BJ this Sat. 10th for BJ for 2 weeks - it’s our 4th time there.

The a la carte dress code for men is long pants, closed shoes, and a shirt with collar, with the equivalent applying to women, although I have seen the rules bent. It’s dressier at Martino’s (Italian) than La Taberna (Cuban). Women usually dress up a bit for both.

The buffet is more casual, you can wear shorts, t-shirts and sandals, but at dinner most people dress quite nicely. Bathing suits are never allowed, and I don’t think bare feet are either.

The exchange rate at the hotel might be marginally more expensive than at the airport, but not enough to make a difference to us.

I don’t think they have life vests except when you’re using the water craft, I’m not sure.

The only “not to do” I can think of to add to yours is not to pile your plate sky high at the buffet and then leave most of it uneaten.

I’m sure you’ll get more details from other members.

I hope we’ll see you there - there’s always been a “reunion” of Debbie’s members in the piano bar, so maybe we could set a date and time to meet.

I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.

Snorkelling don’ts:

Don’t stand on or touch the corals.

Blue lines are my favourite areas to look at

[URL=http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2746833140102725871ovObTQ][/URL]

To add to Phoenix123’s snorkelling etiquette…

Don’t feed the fish bananas or bread

As has been mentioned by many it habituates them to humans and they become aggressive :frowning:

But more importantly, if fed “human food” they don’t eat their natural diet which is stuff that grows on the reef, this helps keep the reef clean and healthy.

Fish being fed bread and bananas=a dying or dead reef system…as evidenced by YVRck and her husband in November :’(

[quote=@123phoenix]Snorkelling don’ts:

Don’t stand on or touch the corals.

Blue lines are my favourite areas to look at

[URL=http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2746833140102725871ovObTQ][/URL][/quote]

Great Information…Taking my own (new) ;D snorkeling gear next week, and will check those blue lines out for sure…I am just hoping the weather and the PMOW will allow us to get in the water…Thanks
Like 123 phoenix says…keep those feet up and hands off

One area that I’d add to 123Phoenix’s good snorkeling spots map is the area on the upper right hand side where you can see the waves breaking. The outer section of the reef here is in excellent condition. Few people are able to get to this area under normal snorkeling conditions.

I caution that this area is no place for beginner snorkelers though and must only be attempted on a very calm green flag day (of which we were blessed with two right at the beginning of our last trip).

The life jackets at Breezes are used primarily for the kayakers and those going out on the catamaran. However, on dead calm days, which btw happen rarely, you might be able to use a life jacket for an hour or so because the catamaran won’t be going out when there is no wind. Ask for permission at the water sports centre before taking any equipment! Never use a life jacket as a “crutch” to go out farther than you really should, based on your own swimming abilities. Accidents happen and yes, we’ve been at this resort when there was a tragic death.

We found the currency exchange rate at the resort to be on par with what was offered at the Varadero airport. However, you’ll still get the best exchange rate at the bank in Havana.

Make sure you attend the welcome briefing given by the rep. (usually the morning after arrival). You will be given an outline of the various Havana trips offered from the resort and what they cost. You can also ask questions! Once you have this info, you’re in a better position to decide whether you want to go to Havana independently on your own or with the tours offered. There are pros and cons to each!

Bring a thermal mug to keep your drinks cold and free of sand during the day while at the beach or pool. Saves on the litter of small plastic cups! In the evening, the bars offer drinks in glassware so you don’t need to use a thermal mug then.

Lovely resort. Enjoy your vacation!

We will be leaving on January 21st for a week at Breezes and can’t wait. Are the closer part of the reef okay for beginner snorkellers? My husband doesn’t quite have the hang of snorkelling yet but with a week of practice, hopefully he will succeed. Would love to meet up with other Debbie’s people at the piano bar. Anyone else? Pick a day, we will arrive on the 21st and leave on the 28th. We’re also looking forward to a day or so in Havana, we will figure out how and when once we get our Cuba bearings. Have I said that I can’t wait, I am so tired of shovelling my driveway. Just as I was finishing the last bit, a stupid snowplow came by and put up a nice little barrier that I had to dig out. I am so glad there is no snow in Cuba.

Unfortunately, and sadly, the reef formations closer to shore are dead and have been for a few years now.

For a beginner, the thrill of seeing some tropical fish in their natural habitat is a great experience and you will most definitely see some fish close to shore. I ALWAYS recommend that beginners go at their own pace and comfort level. Please don’t “push” hubbie to go out farther than he feels comfortable with because one negative experience will potentially turn him off of snorkeling for life. That would be a real shame!

It’s far more important for him to practice floating, staying calm and being still (so you don’t scare the fish away!). Any benefit he might gain by going out farther to see parts of the reef which are in better condition would be negated if he’s thrashing around in the water. Salt water will make you far more buoyant, so practice relaxing and floating and I can almost guarantee you’ll see a lot more marine life. Closer to shore, you’ll find some seagrass beds. Float and hover quietly over top of them. Amazing what you’ll see even here if you look closely!

The idea is to get hubbie so hooked on snorkeling that he’ll want to take you back for another vacation to Jibacoa :wink:

Enjoy!

Hi:

Food is not one of my favorite topics but snorkelling is!!!

NCM: Have your husband wear a life jacket. I love snorkelling, but I am a lousy swimmer. I always wear a life jacket. I bring my own, bought it at Canadian Tire. It’s a Coleman brand. Knowing that there isn’t a chance in heck that your going to drown improves confidence enormously.

You’re obviously right, because I’ve never gone over that way either.

Concerning the feeding of fish on the reef. ratherbefishing at TA brought up an interesting fact concerning parrotfish which they saw on a BBC series Planet Earth: Seas of Life… here is a quoye from the bbc companion website:

Imagine if you start to habituate the Parrotfish and other fish to become beggars? Wouldn’t that not have a detrimental effect after a few years on the beach

[URL=http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2445590110102725871DIdrwz][/URL]

[quote=@123phoenix]
NCM: Have your husband wear a life jacket. I love snorkelling, but I am a lousy swimmer. I always wear a life jacket. I bring my own, bought it at Canadian Tire. It’s a Coleman brand. Knowing that there isn’t a chance in heck that your going to drown improves confidence enormously. [/quote]
Do you mean an actual life jacket or a PFD? I would have thought it difficult to snorkel in a life jacket because the jacket is designed to turn you over on your back…

I was fortunate enough to have a look at this area on my last trip to Jibacoa. Lots to see! I also got out pretty far in front of CVJ, where the fish are much less habituated than those in front of BJ. It’s great to see fish just being fish instead of following you around like you are the buffet table. :wink:

8 days and counting. I’m sure hoping for some green flag days, but being to Jibacoa once before in Jan. I know enough I better not hold my breath. We had some awesome snorkeling last year out infront of Brisas Guardalavaca, I just had to keep ducking for that flying boat… :o

You’re right, I had to go look at it to be sure. On the label it’s called a Personal Flotation Device. I never knew there was a difference. I guess I have to be careful around you sailor types. It looks like a life jacket to me. It is extremely light and fits easily into my suitcase.

[URL=http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2820817410102725871JzSAnz][/URL]

PFDs are ideal for snorkelling because they won’t try to turn you over…but a lifejacket is better e.g. in a boating accident, since if you are knocked unconscious it will turn you over so you can breath. In these circumstances a PFD just makes it easier to locate the body. :o

I find the PFD useful when I have to do wipe the fog off my mask. I can just float on my back like an otter.

By the way eeeefarm have you ever seen a batfish like the one above during your many outings. That one was from around Rancho Luna? I had never seen one before.

I can float on my back just fine without one…but then the end of my snorkel goes in the water and I end up sputtering. ;D

Never been that lucky…yet! Apart from all the other good reasons for not feeding the fish, I find that you see the rare ones much more often when you don’t have a bunch of habituated fish following you around looking for handouts. I also find you see something interesting when you least expect it…like my Don Lino octopus. Strictly serendipity! And if you just hang there quietly, looking…you often see what others miss. I love snorkelling. :smiley:

Norm has no problem with the swimming aspect, just coordination and remembering that just because he has a snorkel doesn’t mean he can deep sea dive and breath. The snorkel I picked up for him apparently has a flap that closes when he goes under, so I hope that helps him. I wouldn’t dream of pushing him past his limits so he doesn’t enjoy it, I just wish I was a better teacher so I could explain better. I have been reading quite a few of the posts and I promise not to bring food into the water for the fish and I will resist temptation to touch the coral even if it is really pretty. I would like to go back again and again and would like other people to enjoy the beautiful ocean.

[quote=@123phoenix]I find the PFD useful when I have to do wipe the fog off my mask. I can just float on my back like an otter.

[/quote]

Do yourself a HUGE favour and get yourself some “sea drops”, available at all scuba/dive stores. Just a few drops will prevent your mask from fogging up for hours.

No idea what they charge for sea drops these days because my small vial is over 5 years old and still half full. A little bit will do ya!

I know a lot of people just say to spit into the mask to prevent fog ups, but it doesn’t work for me. Guess I produce the wrong kind of spit. :wink:

Awesome batfish photo! Haven’t seen one of those yet at Jibacoa.

[quote=@firsttimerinjan]So, having never been to Cuba before and reading a lot of great info on this board, a few questions:

  • what does "dress code" for dinner mean here for men and women ?
  • is the exchange rate from Cdn $'s to CUC’s ok at this hotel or should I change most at the airport ?
  • do they have life vests to use when snorkeling ? We will bring own snorkel gear but vest is too bulky ( and I’d like one to venture out further ). Are these in limited supply as the loaner snorkel gear ?
  • anyone have a "what not to miss with one day in Havana list " ? Depending on weather, we might do two days but would like to hear highlights .
  • haven’t been to an AI in 15 years… any "what not to do’s " ? ( besides being a drunken bum everyday :slight_smile: )

I am so looking forward to leaving this Vancouver weather…

Thanks for the help…[/quote]

So, firsttimerinjan, to get back to you original and excellebt questions, I’m surprised that no one has posted the famous “what to do in Havana”, but maybe one of the experts will jump in. :wink:

You didn’t say how long you’re staying, but if you look at the Cuba Meeting Place, maybe we can set up a new annual Debbie’s Piano Bar Reunion :slight_smile:

there’s not much time left, and oh yes, you’ll have to learn the Sun Dance while you’re there :sunglasses: :sunglasses: :sunglasses:

Re:PFD for snorkeling - I also am not a very strong swimmer and I like the security of knowing the device will be there if I get tired. Last year one of my Christmas gifts was a snorkel vest and I love it. It allows you to float when you want - but you are able to let air out to allow yourself to dive down to go deeper and then re-inflate. It is really comfortable - I’d recommend it!

"you’ll have to learn the Sun Dance while you’re there "

Let me tell you from experience, you will never forget the sun dance (Ritmo Vuelta) or the moves they will teach you to this song while your there at Breezes Jibacoa, its one those tunes that never leaves ya… ;D