Taco Bay, BaracoaTaco Bay, Baracoa, Cuba

In celebration of normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, the Friendship Association has created a new program series: Across the Straits. Musicians Across the Straits was our first event – a smashing success! With My SUP Across the Straits is our second in the series.

The Friendship Association has organized an international exhibition of Stand Up Paddling (SUP) to be held in Baracoa, Cuba, the end of December 2016. SUP lovers and surfers will bring boards and paddles to Cuba to share this delightful sport with our nearest neighbors to the south.

The eight-day event will include stand-up paddle boarding in coves, bays, rivers, in and out of mangroves, and canyons. Each day we will explore a different location, which will include some of Cuba’s most exquisite natural landscapes. The day’s sporting event will conclude with delicious native dishes prepared by local people living in or around the venue. Surfers will be able to experiment eastern Cuba’s early morning surf.

Each SUPer will partner with a Cuban paddling enthusiast. You do not have to SUP to participate in this delegation; you can kayak, swim, inner tube, or catch a ride with the local fishermen and women on their rafts. You can even watch from the shore! Please take lots of photos!

This is not a competition. It is an exhibition, and an experiment in sharing of our equipment, talents, and in making new friends. Several of the group speak Spanish and will translate for all. We hope this will be the first of many SUP events. Cuba holds a wealth of beautiful rivers, lakes and bays, waiting to be paddled! We are already planning the second annual With My SUP Across the Straits to be held appropriately in the infamous Bay of Pigs!!!

Space is very limited for this good-will delegation. Contact us if you are interested in participating in the first-ever SUP Happening in Cuba!

Tentative Itinerary:

day 1, Thurs. 29 Dec:

SUV pool to Miami with SUPs. Overnight in Miami at Regency Hotel.

day 2, Friday 30 Dec:

depart Miami/Santiago de Cuba. Then by bus to Baracoa. Check in to Hotel El Castillo. Evening meeting with organizing committee from Flor y Fauna and participants in the exhibition.

day 3, Sat. 31 Dec:

Morning. Transfer by F&F truck to Taco Bay for Orientation and training with Cuban Team. Lunch in Taco Bay at Welcome Center of Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (UNESCO world heritage site). Evening in Baracoa for dinner and New Year’s Eve celebration.

day 4, Sunday 1 Jan:

Morning. Truck transfer. SUP from Toa River upstream (Boca la Planta to the mouth of the ocean. The paddle will be repeated twice to give everyone a chance to paddle. Lunch of local cuisine in La Esperanza.

Late afternoon in Baracoa, walking tour of the city with Enrique Floirian, architect of the city, and Rosendo Romero, art historian. Evening dinner at a private restaurant. Optional music/dance events.

day 5, Mon. 2 Jan:

Truck transfer. Morning SUP in Mata Bay and possibly surf in open waters. Rural lunch in Mata. Afternoon free. Meet with Mayor of Baracoa to discuss long overdue Sister City relationship.

day 6, Tues. 3 Jan:

Truck transfer. Morning SUP from Barrigüita to Yumurí. Lunch at Mirleidy’s restaurant on the bay in Yumurí. Then sup/boat up the canyon of Yumurí river.

day 7, Wed. 4 Jan:

Morning. Surfers can surf off Baracoa early. Then group hike to waterfalls after fording the Duaba river. Lunch on the banks of the Duaba. Late afternoon SUP from the mouth of Rio Miel around the mangroves. Evening: party at the Hotel El Castillo for SUPing friends.

day 8, Thurs. 5 Jan:

Depart Baracoa for Santiago de Cuba. Stop in the city of Guantánamo to visit our friend Jorge Nunez, president of the Writers and Artists Guild, who was a guest of the Hamilton family in St. Augustine. Then on to Santiago and a chance to listen to some good Cuban music. Overnight in Santiago at the Casa Granda or Meliá hotel.

day 9, Friday 6 Jan:

Departure from Santiago de Cuba for Miami. Drive back to St Augustine.

Purpose and goals:

to meet with Cuban aquatic sports activists and local people who make their livelihood from the rivers, bays and waters in and around Baracoa, Cuba, for meaningful cultural interaction; to participate with our Cuban counterparts in a Stand Up Paddle Board exhibition to be held in several venues around Baracoa, Cuba. Time will be dedicated to meaningful exchanges with sports professionals and amateurs, biologists, conservationists, and with rural and urban working class people, and we will discuss strategies for improving communication between our countries.

Please note, this is an intensive itinerary with a strong focus on meaningful interaction with our Cuban counterparts. The Friendship Association is obligated to keep accurate records of delegations for eventual review by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. To assist in that report, you are asked to keep a brief log of formal and informal interaction with our Cuban counterparts.


$2,600 (double occupancy. Add $300 for single supplement).

Includes: round trip airfare Miami/Santiago de Cuba – Santiago de Cuba/Miami (or Tampa if possible); exit tax; all transportation within Cuba; full medical insurance in Cuba; all hotels (3 & 4 star); all meals (fixed, but flexible menu) in Cuba; all entrances fees; major tips, American bilingual tour guide and a professional Cuban guide. A note regarding meals: if you prefer a special meal such as lobster you only need to pay the difference from our budgeted price. Since people’s drinking habits vary greatly, to be fair, each person is responsible for their own drinks, including extra bottled water.

Not included: transportation to and from your hometown to and from Miami airport; overnight stays at the hotel in Miami (or wherever departure is from) en route to and from Cuba; personal tips such as housekeepers, porters, drivers, and guides; all drinks; fees for extra suitcases and overweight, travel insurance, and membership in the Friendship Association.

Payments, Cancellations, and Refunds:

Schedule of payments (deadline for applying is August 15, 2016)

  • $625 non-refundable deposit & membership, due with application. The deposit will be used to immediately by the organizing committee to purchase the SUPS and paddles.
  • $1,000 due September 30.
  • $1,000 due October 15. (Or $1,300 for single occupancy if available)

Make checks out to: The Friendship Association and mail to:

The Friendship Association, P.O. Box 840011, St. Augustine, FL 32080

Please advise me by email when you have mailed your application, check, color copy of your passport and release from liability. If you want to pay by credit card you can use our PayPal account, but please add 3% to each payment. You may pay ahead of schedule.


All cancellation notices must be received in writing and will become effective as of the date of the postmark. If you cancel before one month from departure, you will receive a refund of 50% of the payment you have made so far (excluding membership ($25.00) and the non-refundable deposit ($600) You can use this amount as a tax deductible donation. If you cancel within a month prior to departure you will lose your entire amount. Leaving an expedition in progress, for any reason whatsoever, will not result in a refund, and no refunds can be made for any unused portions of an expedition. We reserve the right to cancel any trip for good-faith concerns with respect to the safety, health, or welfare of the participants, or for major political shifts from either or both governments. If an expedition is canceled prior to departure, you will receive a full refund except for your deposit and membership dues. If you are not accepted for the delegation, your money will be returned in full. We cannot be responsible for missed connections to and from the Miami Airport (?) or for hotels in Miami (?) because of missed connections or any other reason.

The delegation is limited in number. The key words for this adventure are: flexibility, patience, spontaneity, water and enjoyment! Cuba is experiencing a major transition in which we will be participants. Uncertainty is the only certainty. Please feel free to share your comments, concerns, and questions. You will receive final names of airports, hotels, and emergency contact numbers when they are known.

Relevant forms:

Be sure to read the FAQs and Sensitivity Issues.

ToaRio Toa, Baracoa, Cuba