Swimming From Miami To Cuba: What You Need To Know

Considering the Cuban Missile Crisis, it should not seem that far of a distance between Miami and Cuba.

It is in fact 110 miles between the city of Havana in Cuba and Key West in Miami, Florida and, though you cannot see the other destination with the naked eye, it has been successfully swum.

Swimming From Miami To Cuba: What You Need To Know

However, the Straits of Florida is a dangerous area to swim across due to sharks, jellyfish, shipping lanes, reefs, and currents.

It would also take over a day of continuous swimming to complete so only the most experienced of endurance swimmers should attempt it.

In this guide, we will look at the key facts of the swim, the distance from the Florida Coast to Cuba, and the dangers of the swim.

We will also look at the successful swims between Cuba and Miami.

Key Facts Of The Swim

The overriding reason why so few people have swum between Miami and Cuba is simply how long and dangerous the Florida Straits are.

The distance between Havana and Key West is said to be around 110 miles and that’s through shark and jellyfish-infested waters in the Straits of Florida.

Completing the swim should take between 25 and over 50 hours, which is a considerable effort.

The Distance From The Florida Coast To Cuba

Though the swim from Havana and Key West should amount to 110 miles, it is not the shortest distance between the two locations.

The northernmost part of Cuba should be only 100 miles from Florida if you go across the Straits of Florida.

There are claims that there are only 90 miles between Cuba and Key West which is Florida’s most southern point.

There is even a tourist spot called the Southernmost Point Buoy in Key West which has ‘90 Miles To Cuba’ painted out on it, though it may actually be 94 miles according to Google Earth.

The Dangers Of The Swim

Aside from the considerable distance and requirement to stay moving in the water for over a day and possibly two days, there are deadly creatures in the Florida straits.

These include sharks and box jellyfish which patrol the waters and make crossing an extreme hazard.

There are even more dangers which can include dehydration and sunburn and even a solo swim is considered a team effort with a group of people on hand to help and support.

One of the rules about swimming the distance is that an individual is not permitted to hold onto the support boat at any given time so the swim can feel lonely and exhausting even when you stop swimming.

Requirements for the swim would typically include gloves, a bodysuit, and booties.

This is largely to protect from the dangerous sea creatures.

Even a silicone mask should be worn to protect the face from box jellyfish stings.

Such protective clothing does come at a cost as it does weigh an individual down yet can prove effective.

For sharks, a cage or an electrical field can be used to keep them at bay.

Further dangers include reefs, shipping lanes, currents, and dangerous eddies (areas where the water flows back against the current and upstream).

The Successful Swims

The Successful Swims

Few undertake the swim between Miami and Cuba yet it has been completed successfully.

In September 2013, Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage for protection.

It took her 53 hours and this was not her first attempt but it was the first swim without a shark cage with her only stops being for hydration breaks and food.

At 64 years old, Nyad had made the crossing a lifelong dream and her successful attempt in 2013 was decidedly her final attempt.

She had tried previously, first in 1978, then twice in 2011, and again in 2012.

Upon completing the swim from a Havana yacht club on a Saturday morning to the Key West shore at 2pm the following Monday, she was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers.

Shortly after giving a speech in which she insisted that you should never give up on your dreams, she was given medical treatment and taken to the hospital for primary checks on swelling, sunburn, and dehydration.

However, the first successful swim came in 1997 when Susie Maroney crossed the Straits.

The 22-year-old Australian managed it with a shark cage which could have created a drafting effect to make the swim safe and even a little easier.

By gliding on the ocean’s currents, Maroney only took 25 hours to complete her swim.

Can Cubans Swim Across To America?

If someone from Cuba can complete the distance across the Straits of Florida then they are permitted to leave the country.

This is due to all government-imposed restrictions on travel from Cuba being abolished on January 14th 2013.

Any Cuban citizen is allowed to leave the country at will, provided that they have a valid passport.

This is in stark contrast to the period before when the Cuban authorities forbade attempts to leave the country.

Miami is becoming a popular destination for Cubans and the influx of Cuban citizens has had a telling impact on the growth of the city.

Cuban neighborhoods and cuisine are becoming noted features of Miami’s culture and a tangible reason for tourists to visit.

Final Thoughts

Swimming between Miami and Cuba is possible but few people have managed it.

That’s due to the distance involved and the amount of training that goes into swimming for over a day.

If it is to be attempted a support team would need to be involved to ensure that an individual was kept out of danger for the entire journey.

There are several dangers involved in the Straits of Florida including jellyfish, sharks, reefs, shipping lanes, and dangerous currents which require protective clothing and confident swimming.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take To Take A Boat From Miami To Cuba?

Swimming between Miami and Cuba is only for those who have trained for years to cover the distance in endurance swimming.

The far more pedestrian and pleasant mode of transportation is to take a boat and you can get between the two destinations on a ferry.

The journey across the Straits from Miami to Havana typically takes around ten hours to do and covers around 250 nautical miles.

Is It Possible To See Florida From Cuba?

If you were to look out from Key West towards Havana, it is likely that you will not be able to see land.

There is a 90-mile distance between the two cities and it is largely impossible through the naked eye.

Even from the top of Key West lighthouse, you can only see a distance of between 30 and 35 miles which is not enough to see Florida from Cuba or vice versa.

There is a way to see Florida from Cuba but you would need either a pair of binoculars or a high-powered telescope.

The best time to try to catch a glimpse is typically just before the sun sets and the weather should be clear.

Any cloud or rain drizzle is generally going to impede your attempts to see toward the horizon.

Jim Stanton
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