When Cuba comes to mind people tend to think of Rum, Cigars and Salsa music blaring out of car stereos from the ‘50s. This is all true but there is another side of Cuba. A side that is calling for the adventurer, the pioneer, and the resilient spirit.
Cuba was cut off from much of Western culture for the second half of the 20th century but beginning in the ‘90s adventurous western travelers began to appear. They came for much more than the great rum. They came to explore the untapped natural beauty of the island. They brought with them their arsenal of tools like surfboards, ropes, harnesses and skateboards.
They took to the mountains and the sea like no Cuban had seen before. The world of surf and rock climbing and was introduced to the Cuban people. This new daring form of self-expression was addicting and bit by bit they began to make their own go at it. With no access to equipment except the life-changing donations that were left behind, they started making surfboards out of school desks, refrigerator doors or really anything that could float and be shaped. The same goes for the climbing community they would go to climbing the magnificent Vinales valley with nothing but horse ropes and old shoes placing homemade gear along the way.
The Cuban government did not know what to do with this new culture and began to prohibit it but it was too late. The bug had bitten and it was not going to give up that easily. The people kept at it and this next generation of surfers and climbers emerges and is ready to compete and be recognized at an international level.
There is a group of Cuban surfers who are pushing to get Surfing recognized as a national sport and be able to try out for the 2020 Olympics in Japan. They have already been recognized by some international surf organizations but are still in negotiations with the local government.
Hasta Cuba has teamed up with this group of surfers and climbers and has begun to bring the adventurous traveler to connect with this incredible community. Learning from their history, sharing the passion for their sport and bringing with them some resources to keep the movement alive and well.
Top Suggestions for visiting Cuba in search of adventure:
Connect with the local community Exploring is always more fun when you have the help of locals. Find the best breaks and lines to get the most out of your experience
Favorite Break in Havana - Playa 70 in Miramar. On a good day of Surf, this old parking lot in front of a hotel will be filled with the majority of Cubas surfers. It is an awesome reef break that has the incredible backdrop of the whole coast of Havana.
Favorite route in Vinales - The Wasp Factory - This 5.12c is an incredible line covered with stalactites and overlooking the lush green countryside famous for Tobacco cultivation.
Bring donations - All things surf and climbing are in need in Cuba. Be prepared to leave behind (if possible) your surfboard, leash, wax, fins, harness, shoes, ropes, carabineers. If at all possible bring new gear to donate. Simond products are super affordable and will get a whole lot of use from the local community. I make sure to bring down extra Harness and Shoes everytime I go.
(https://www.decathlon.com/collections/climbing-harnesses/products/climbing-harness-easy-3? & https://www.decathlon.com/collections/climbing-shoes/products/rock-climbing-shoes? )