Here at CubaCasa we might be all about casas particulares but our hearts swell when we hear about the raw, real Cuba being exposed through amateur documentaries like Apple’s “Ola Cubana” (Cuban Wave) a video documentary entirely shot on the iPhone XS and exposing the little-known Cuban community of surfers, portraying their passion and struggles through vivid imagery, splashing shots and insightful voiceovers.
Apple has just launched a promotional mini-documentary called “Ola Cubana” (Cuban Wave) to show off the filming capabilities of their latest smartphone device, the iPhone XS. The five-minute video takes viewers on a journey to explore the humble beginnings of the surfing movement in Cuba with wave-riding being a relatively unknown sport not yet recognised by the government.
The video is exciting, not only because it shows a practically invisible community of surfers in Cuba, one that was virtually inexistent a decade ago or so. It’s exciting and also touching because it shows you surfing in Cuba through the eyes of the keen and very dedicated Cuban surfers who have had to make do with very little to give their give baby steps in this recreational sport (at least in Cuba it’s considered so as the government doesn’t include it in its lists of official sports).
Cuban surfers have to go around the many U.S. embargo obstacles to source materials for their surfing boards and repairs are a monumental challenge. Just getting their hands on resin (which is only available on the black market at over-inflated prices) it’ an ordeal all on its own. The short Apple documentary shows you the passion, the struggle and the overcoming of obstacles from a very raw, personal perspective so that you’re literally immersing in the Cuban waves. That paired with the fact that the video includes lots and lots of underwater shots, just by watching, you’ll feel literally splashed!
While one may wonder how can it be that a tropical island surrounded by gorgeous beaches all around has no surfing culture at all, the answer lies in the fact that the state views surfing as a recreational activity and thus offers no facilities, training or materials to those keen on learning the ropes of this water sport.
If you’ve ever been to Cuba, whether on holiday, on business or on a short culture trip, it’s unlikely that you’ve spotted any surfers riding the island waves. While Cuba is famous for the stillness of its lagoon-like beaches as is the case with Varadero and the dreamy keys (Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Santa Maria or Cayo Largo), Havana for example has some beaches where the surf is ripe for riding at certain times of year. Such is the case of Playa Santa Maria del Mar, Guanabo or Megano. Actually, any of the Playas del Este will do. And beyond Playas del Este, Havana’s La Setenta beach is said to be surfer’s absolute favourite hangout spot.
Beyond Havana, other great surfing spots in Cuba include Yumuri in Baracoa (we’ve got casas particulares there), Gibara in Holguin and Cabo San Antonio in Pinar del Rio (we’ve got awesome casas there too!).
So, if you’re a keen surfer or want to get close to Cuba’s surfing community next time you embark on a Cuba holiday, best stay in a casa particular in Havana (like one of ours) so that the locals point you in the right direction, they’ll put you in touch with the surfers in town so that you live a truly immersive and real experience with humble, enthusiastic Cuban surfers. What they lack in materials and technique they make up for in passion!