Sports

Stunning Scenes: The Amazing Images Of Surfing In Cuba

by Tosten Burks

August 18, 2016

Earlier this year, filmmaker Corey McLean spent 10 weeks in Cuba embedded within the country’s bourgeoning surfing scene. McLean is producing a documentary about the community, and the legal, cultural, and economic obstacles still preventing locals from catching waves.

This week, we published his dispatch from the island, but McLean and co-director Marco Bava’s photos are too great not to share more.

In his home near the Playa 70 shore, Frank Gonzalez, one of Cuba’s first surfers, meticulously shapes the rails of his newly formed short board. There are no surf shops on the island.


Gonzalez walks along the Malecón esplanade. This particular stretch of the sea wall has become a hot spot for new businesses thanks to economic reform.


Santeria priestesses perform a ritual sacrifice along the Playa 70 shore.


Gonzalez catches air off the coast of Havana. To prevent defection, the Cuban government historically has policed coastal waters, arresting surfers and swimmers who ventured too far from the shore.


Gonzalez remembers surfers in the ‘90s crafting boards out of refrigerator door foam and jump rope. Today, it still is nearly impossible to buy a board outside of Havana.


Skateboarding, which Soviet soldiers first brought to Cuba in the late '70s, also is growing in popularity, fueled by equipment donations from non-profits like Miami-based Amigo Skate.


Classic American cars like pre-'60s Fords and Cadillacs have become symbols of Cuban nationalism. Surfing, not so much. Gonzalez estimates there are no more than 100 surfers on the island.


Cuban surfers watch for waves.

Photos courtesy of Corey McLean and Marco Bava

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