For the people of Havana, a day at the beach is every bit as inviting as it is for tourists. Havana is on the water, but its shoreline is not a beach; the closest sand and surf is at a sensational 12 km long stretch of paradise called Santa Maria del Mar. It’s about 20 minutes from town and many residents arrive by local bus so it’s always hopping with fun and tropical life in general. If you head there from Havana, taxi drivers will ask for $CUC20 but you may be able to make it 10.
The beachfront is what you’d expect with rum shacks, snack bars, loungers and thatched umbrellas. Just one tip – avoid the blue jellyfish!
Last Friday towards evening when locals were showing up after work, I was doing a little serious relaxing when a group of musicians started to jam on bass, guitar a Cuban drum set, maracas and the like. Soon they started really belting out some great songs and everyone on the beach, but sadly not me, started to sing along.
An accordion player showed up, and the fun began to build. A couple leapt off their beach chairs and started to swing. Soon other joined them and within minutes, the beach was alive with locals, tourists and kids from everywhere dancing to the music. From nowhere a trombone player appeared and took a soaring solo – just the thing to whip the crowd into a frenzy.
That’s all it takes – a few musicians, some enthusiastic dancers and shot sunny beach. A full-fledged beach party had begun spontaneously and with no plan or prior warning everyone was having the kind of fun that only seems to happen in Cuba.