“Cuba isn’t particularly known as a surf mecca,” writes Jacob Oster in his piece, “Revolución Continuó,” in TSJ 28.4. “Without official numbers to reference, a broad estimate of the amount of surfers in the country ranges from about 80 to 150. Compared to its 11.48 million citizens, wave riders are an extremely small minority, perhaps one of the smallest minorities in the entire country.
“Foreigners introduced surfing to the locals in the early 1990s, which is to say that it’s still very much in its infancy on the island. Aside from a few legitimate surf spots toward the eastern tip and a handful of hurricane setups near the greater Havana area, the majority of the known waves along the country’s 3,570 miles of coastline are more novelty than reasons to travel there.
“Nevertheless, Cuba’s waves are unique. Take Marina Hemingway, named after the writer who spent so many years in Cuba, which grinds and thumps against the concrete wall of the harbor. Or Baracoa Bay, which wedges off the rusted, tetanus-ridden hull of an old shipwreck. According to the New York Times, around 95 percent of Cubans have participated in a form of organized sport or exercise in their lifetimes. The country has famously produced some of the world’s best baseball players and boxers.
“But surfing and skateboarding are viewed differently than traditional sports in Cuba. The government has categorized them as pointless, renegade activities—nuisances. As such, there is zero acknowledgment or support from the regime and no financing for surf teams or contests. Since commerce is regulated by the government, there are also no surf shops to sell boards, fins, wax, or resin.”
Check out the trailer for the accompanying documentary project Surf Cuba above, and head to surfcuba.io to watch the full film, and to get more information and looks at the Locals Project.