LAST UPDATED 24/08/2008
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Level of surfing


Quality of surf


Call code


Net code





3,735 km


Tropical; moderated by trade winds; dry season (November to April); rainy season (May to October)



Best Months

October - December




Convertible Peso (CUC) Pegged to the US Dollar

Time Zone

Eastern standard time (UTC-5)

Special Requirements

Lengthy VISA Process


Kelvinc: LocationCuba; 25 March 2007

Cuba is the largest Caribbean island, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, 150 km south of Key West, Florida. It lies between the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, to the west of Haiti, and northwest of Jamaica.

Cuba has tje biggest population in the Caribbean. Its people, culture and customs take its roots from several sources including the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, the period of Spanish colonialism, the introduction of African slaves, and its proximity to the United States.



Alberto Korda; Che Guevara; 05.03.1960

"Cuba's history has a significance out of proportion to its size." - Philip S. Foner. Few truer words have been said! Jeez there is a lot, more so of significance than can be squeezed into this SurfingAtlas page, so lets take a whistle stop tour of the history timeline of Cuba, here we go:

  •  12 of October 1492 Christopher Coloumbus discovers Cuba whilst on his first voyage and names it Isla Juan and claims it for Spain, a name he chose in reference to Prince Juan, heir to the Spanish thrown.
  • 1511 Cuba was mapped by Sebastián De Ocampo and Spanish colonisation of the island began. It's economy based on mining and exportation of coffee, sugar and tobacco. The local native Americans who lived here were enslaved on used on the farms and in the mines.
  • 1762 Cuba was invaded by the British and the city of Havana taken, however, it was restored to the Spanish the following year.
  • Circa 1820 when the other parts of Spain's empire in Latin America rebelled and formed independent states, Cuba remained loyal, although there was some agitation for independence. Due to Cuba's loyalty to the Spanish government, the Spanish Crown gave the following motto to the island government "La Siempre Fidelisima Isla" (The Always Most Faithful Island).
  • 1848 The US's growing desire of annexation of Cuba leads President James K Polk to deploy Romulus Mitchell Saunders to Spain to try and negotiate purchase of Cuba from the Spanish, he offers US$100 million, however, the Spanish decline the offer.
  • 1868 An uprising for independence from Spain begins led by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, a wealthy land owner and Cuban resident. This conflict went on for ten years and became know as 'The Ten Years war" The was sympathy for the Cuban residents from the US, however, they declined to intervene.
  • 1878 The Ten years war ends with the Pact Of Zanjón and Spain promising greater autonomy to Cuba.
  • 1893 Slavery was obolished in Cuba and equal rights granted.
  • 20th of May 1902 Cuba is granted full independence with Tomas Estrada Palma being the first president of Cuba.
  • During World War I Cuba aids Britain by smuggling sugar under the guise that it's headed for Sweden, this tactic avoids the ships being sunk by German U-Boats. Cuba then declares war on Germany shortly after the US resulting in Mexico breaking off relations with Cuba
  • World War II, Cuba, although supplying vast quantities of sugar and strategic manganese, was not greatly involved in combat during World War II, although U.S. air bases were established, Cuban freighters were sunk, a German spy was discovered and executed, and a German submarine was sunk by the Cuban navy. During World War II the Nazis counterfeited vast sums of U.S. currency which was sent via the Dozenberg group to Cuba and other parts of Latin America; Soviet directions to the Cuban communist party seem to have been sent via radio from Switzerland by the Alexander Foote Network.
  • To be continued........


NASA: Varadero, Cuba; 2005

The Caribbean, she is a harsh mistress. All of the islands in the Greater and Lesser Antilles share at least some aspect towards the North Atlantic and therefore are exposed to any passing fronts that generate of the East American Coast and transit the North Atlantic. These fronts often pass a good way to the north and swell decay can be a problem.

Regular windswell is a constant on the east coast of all of the island groups and hence there is almost always something to keep you occupied and off the rum for a few hours. too much wind can be a bad thing though and onshore days are very common, no matter how early in the morning you manage to peel yourself out of your cot and stumble down to the beach.

The third source of swell in the region are from passing hurricanes. Some of the strongest storm ever recorded on the planet file through here regularly. Technically the season spans June to November with early September being the peak. The ideal scenario is for the hurricane mass to pass clear of any inhabited areas and sit well offshore in the deep Carribean for a few days prior to disipating. The result is typically 3-5 days of western swell that lights up the hidden western points and reefs of the Caribbean. The persistant NE/E trade winds will gently fan these breaks all day long. It is then that some of the rarer points and breaks of Cuba come to life. Surf exploration doesent get any better than this. Viva la Revolution!


Stuart Edwards; Cuban car maintenance; 2002

To enter Cuba you will need a tourist visa card and at least 6 months validity on your passport. Your visa will last for 30 days and can be extended a further 30 days at the Cuban immigration office if required. Upon departure you will be charged departure tax of, at time of writing, 25 CUC and it has to be paid in cash - worth remembering.

Jose Martí International Airport is the main gateway into the country and is located just outside of Havana, many major airlines service this airport from Canada, Mexico, Europe, Central America and other Caribbean Island.

By far the best and most reliable way to tour the island is by bus. The coaches are fully equiped with toilets, wash rooms and TV's and are cheap and punctual.

You can rent cars in Cuba for a reasonable price with a tank of fuel. However, if you are involved in an accident of any kind you will be detained in Cuba until the situation is fully resolved, this can take many months of anguish with insurance companies etc and for this reason it is not advised.

where to stay

Stuart Edwards; Catedral de San Cristobal; 2002

By far the best plaeces to stay in Cuba for a real Cuban experience are know as casas particulares. These are private houses licensed to provide accommodation for foreign travellers. They are much cheaper and much more authentic than the larger, expensive hotels on offer, however, prices rise even with the casas particulares the closer to Havana you get. When checking in be sure to check exactly what you're being charged for, the casas particulares owners have a habit of handing you a bill with charges for the glass of water you had with your meal and your lift from the bus station, everything, so double check before accepting any service. 

It's also a good idea to arrange your accommodation in advance as you will get hassled by jineteros (hustlers)  who will try and lead you off to a casa for a commission, and you will be charged for it. Most cities have larger hotels also available, usually in restored attractive colonial buildings and there are a few resorts too, however, these are expensive.

what to pack

Suricata: From top to bottom: Two button cells, a 9-volt PP3 battery, an AAA battery, an AA battery, a C battery, a D battery, a large 3R12; 10 November 2004

The weather is mild throughout the year, but it can rain, so take an umbrella and pack accordingly (unbrella, waterproof bag, raincoat and rubberboots). Usually the climate is hot and humid, so you'll need a variety of t-shirts, as you change clothes alot in humidity. Hat and natural fabrics (such as cotton or linen) clothes will be very useful. Also bring a light jacket/sweater, as it can get cool in evening or very cool on air conditioned train/bus.

The basic rule will be - take EVERYTHING you may need for yourself (shampoo, conditiioner, hair brush, toothpaste, shower gel, deodorant, razors, shave cream, feminine hygiene products, nail clippers, extra toilet paper for out of the way trips, good sunscreen and a good insect repellent, adaptor, lots of film or memory cards, etc) and as much as you can to give away to locals: old clothes, medicine, soap, pens, pencils and other school supplies, batteries, guitar strings, manicure accessories, razors & blades, socks for men & kids, underwear (!), feminine hygiene products, stomach remedies, toothpaste & toothbrushes, etc.

No special vaccination is needed, just bring all the medicines you use on a daily basis.



dangers and warnings

SGGH; Cuban police; 08.03.2006

Cuba is generally a very safe country; strict and prominent policing, combined with neighborhood watch style-programs keep the streets safe from violent crime. Nonetheless, a certain degree of common-sense and caution is advisable, especially in major cities. Visitors are advised to avoid coming to the attention of the Cuban police and security services.

Drug laws can be draconian and their implementation unpredictable. The same may be said about the laws concerning prostitution. The importation, possession or production of pornography is strictly prohibited. It is not uncommon to see a dog jogging on the luggage carousel sniffing arriving luggage, especially when arriving from countries prone to drug-trafficking, so be sure to lock and/or wrap your luggage to avoid any problems in this regard.

Tourists are generally advised not to involve themselves in the following three areas: politics, drugs, or pornography/prostitution. It should be noted however that Cuba is not totalitarian by any means, and usually mild comments concerning the regime will not lead to arrest or other penalties. In fact, many employees and locals will often openly agree with the criticisms, especially away from the major cities.

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