Want to plan a kiting trip? Just got back from one? Post you experiences, questions and information here.
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I wanted to slip in several days of travel to cuba in february after a brief stint in Tulum, Mexico. I would love to kite and surf while there. I'm looking for any 1st hand experience with the place, where to go, where to stay, where to kite, or who to get in touch with. Thanks for any info. !
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Cuba has tons of beaches, wind and waves plus sharks and an oppressive regime with strong regulations against small boats. So surprisingly its less of a great spot than one might hope for.
Havana is the center which has a population of 2 Million I recall. Hotels such as Hotel Nacional Cuba and Tropicana are famous and pleasant as is Hotel Hemingway Marina a ways away. While there are marinas and a Malecon kiting is generally not easily achievable.
In Veradero about 2-3 hours away is a beach resort area which is enclosed by gates and security, once inside you are more free to be a tourist and there you will able to kite, at least while the lifeguards allow between spotting sharks and infestation of jellyfish. Literally I was stopped by military from launching due to their concerns. I had to argue that I was not Cuban and prove I accepted my responsibility to go among the sharks which may or may not exist.
But, Cuba is awesome. And there are endless beaches to explore as it is a huge island, only thing is they do not allow you to freely roam, you can not speak to cubans except tour guides, you can not drive freely and you can not launch freely.
At best here is a plan, you must take your gear on your back and run as fast as possible from the main tourist area where you are and change your attire to look Cuban, smuggle your gear outside of the tourist area by going in front doors and out back doors with clothing changes and pay someone to go with and drive you, likely in a 1950s buick that hardly runs and try to make it to a beach where you can try to launch. Success is very unlikely.
Of course once you find that spot, you will be identified not only by Cuban intelligence apparatus but also by US Abu Ghraib torture guards who travel off shore. It is still illegal for any American to have or spend money in Cuba due to the Embargo in place so you would be guilty of a US Federal offense and likely a Cuban offense too you would be taken into custody and at best made to leave or be returned to the tourist area.
You can not bring credit card which would be tracked or for that matter you can not bring legally American Dollars (according to Bush) though American dollars are the defacto currency. Last time I checked A cuban Peso was 25 to the dollar, though no one wants to accept them anyway they will pawn them off on you and you will get ripped off if you try to use cuban pesos, they have no system for change since effectively one cuban peso is less than 1/25 of a dollar. You can try to bring Mexican Pesos which seems to be the best legal solution though dollars are fine in practice.
So, Veradero is your best bet, The wind is about 10-18 and on shore to side onshore.
You can find a place by checking tour agencies-they service mostly Germans and Canadians who visit there. Or its possible to go with a reservation but then change to a Casa Particular which is a home of Cubans, though illegal it would be more fun. However the last time I was there the police arrived in the night because they said we exceeded the number of allowable people and that the Cubans can not be mixed with tourists.
Lastly I should mention that the average wage is about $10/month and being communist buying things is not allowed for cubans, they get products and services as deemed necessary by Castro's regime. So that's a bit sad, and you will constantly be bothered for money to help them buy things they need. Its a bit overwhelming to be propositioned 1000 times per day and to have people begging for anything at all as you visit. Though a generous person might enjoy it as long as your funds hold out.
I did escape and joined an all female band as a producer/setup while there and met an olympic gold medal boxing champion who drove me around and we hosted parties called "bunches" and with "ron" at $2/bottle and the lobsters are free so its not difficult to get a party going. Bring camoflouge-you'll fit in better.
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Pues nada mas de si te vas ir con confienza que eres uno buen representivo de nosotros, con respeto de las mujeres, el gobierno y obvio, ser listo a bailar y bien al gusto. En los momentos ahi, en Cuba vas a tenir muchos emociones de la vida, el ritmo de la vida, de salsa y la voz des Cubanos. Va bien y amable, Suerte y espero que regreses mas fuerte luego un buen experencia. Cuidate
Wow.. Sorry, but a LOT of the information is wrong or misleading... (seems that you had a very different experience to most people I have talked to that have been there, or maybe it was a long long time ago, I don't know)
I was in Cuba a year ago and had a wonderful time.
Didn't feel that way.. I had no problem going out with a kite.. I actually ended renting one in Varadero 'cause the reason for my trip was to visit Cuba so I decided to leave all my gear behind.
The gear was a bit old (2004-2005) but was enough for me to go out and have some fun
Yeah, I wouldn't kite in Havana, Varadero or other beaches is a way better choice
Weird that you had that experience.. I didn't see ANY of what you mentioned above.. not even the gates and security... not sure where you were.
And there was no military to be seen anywhere.
Sorry.. NOT TRUE!!
Cuba and Cubans are very open... I had many conversations with great people. I was free to go wherever I wanted. I even rented a car for 3 days and explored a great deal of the western side of the island.
Again, not sure where you went. All the doors where very opened to me
Uh? When did you go or where did you get your information from?
There are two types of currency in Cuba
CUC and CUP
The CUP is used by cubans and you won't have to deal with it
The CUC is the actual currency used for tourists.. when I went it was about us$0.85 to 1 CUC (today it's closer to 1 to 1) it fluctuates a bit.
You can't make any transactions with us$, but any hotel or bank will change them. even at the time that the canadian dollar was 1 to 1 with the american one, the canadian dollar was way better for exchanging. (the candian dollar was $0.95 to 1 CUC...)
Basically, they would rather not deal with us$ if they can.. if you still want to, you just pay a premium in terms of bad exchange
Cuba has a huge black market, so you can easily give or pay us$ in the street if you so desire.. I gave many $1 to people in the streets.
Not true again.. Casa Particulares are not illegal.. you CAN find illegal ones.. but most of the ones you'll find will be legal ones.
They are basically houses that are owned by Cubans and they rent a room out to tourists. They often have a symbol by the door or the front that shows that it's a Casa Particular
Wages are very low in Cuba... $30/month is the actual average..
But it's not true that they are not allowed to buy things.. They can, and even though you can find a lot less things that you can find here, shops have clothes, books, food wherever you go.
The thing is that the black market is huge, so even though $30 is the average, the real average is actually a lot higher.
I'm not Cuban and I have traveled all over the world and it's very sad to see such a bad rap given to this amazing country and amazing people.
I found that people don't have a lot, but they are happy and they have their basic needs.. I didn't see anybody starving and everybody has a home. Which is not the same I can say about many countries in South America, let alone Africa.
It's a pity that Americans are not allowed to go there and only get bad and VERY misleading information about the country.
If anybody has a chance I would encourage them to go and somehow get there.
As far as kiting goes. I had a great session and I was glad I got out and played in the waves. I wish I had my own gear and I could stay longer so I could kite. But my trip was about Cuba, not about my kiting :D
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