WHY CUBA AND HOW IT ALL STARTED
I was fortunate enough to meet David Guillem, a proud Cuban ambassador, at the Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show in 2012. Two weeks later I flew to Cuba to meet David again and to have him show me around. It was soon evident that Cuba is much more than an inexpensive 'all inclusive' beach destination. The natural beauty was more than I had ever imagined! It is a completely untapped gem for paddlers and adventurous nature nuts like myself. Over the next 2 years David and I tackled mountains of paper work, endless meetings with the government, the coast guard, ministry of tourism, customs etc.. We also faced the struggles of getting the first container of quality sea kayaks and paddling equipment into Cuba. With my first grey hairs showing and some crazy stories to tell, we had done it! I'm so proud to be apart of Cuba's very first sea kayak tour operation. Our tours started fully in oct. 2014 and have since become a huge hit. The word has started to spread among the paddling community attracting people from Canada, France, Ireland, Germany, Norway and of course the U.S. is just itching to get there as well. With the great success of year one almost behind us I looked to team up with another like minded company to help grow the company for 2015-2016 season. It was a cold Canadian winter day that I invited a great friend and colleague of mine, Peter Whaley owner of Coastal Spirit Expeditions, for a coffee. Well, it wasn't long before Peter joined me on one of our trips and was SOLD on the experience and wanted to become part of this exciting venture. Peter and I have known each other for over 10 years and suffer from the same infectious fun loving disorder. The perfect team to infect the world with the bug called Cuba.
Peter, David and myself are developing and expanding new and exciting programs for the 2015-2016 season with tours running weekly.
Both Peter and myself are very approachable and would be glad to talk to you if you have any questions regarding our Cuba Adventures.
Meet the team!
Cuba has recharged my excitement for discovery and adventure to a whole new level. My passion is paddling and my love and enthusiasm for it is infectious. I grew up in canoes and kayaks and graduated from an outdoor recreation program. I went on to complete my studies as a fish and wildlife biologist. I have been very blessed to work in a field that I love for over 22 years as a guide, instructor, naturalist. I am co-owner of Muskoka Paddle Shack, one of Canada's leading Paddle shops for the last 12 yrs. I am also a super proud dad of a sweet little girl named Teah. She lets me know that she is my little dora the explorer on our adventures.
My earliest memories of paddling are with my Dad up at our cottage on lake Muskoka when I was about 6 yrs old. We would take the cedar strip canoe out on the lake early in the morning as the mist was rising and paddle to a nearby Beaver dam and listen to the warding off'smack' of their tails as we tried to approach stealthily. Now, many years later, kayaking, canoeing and SUP'ing has takenme to some of the most beautiful places in the world including now, CUBA! My home-base in the summer is in the historic fishing village of River John, Nova Scotia where for the last 18yrs. I have guided guests on the Ocean and River in my backyard.
Mabelin Benavidez Marinez & Alian Alonso
Mabelin Benavidez Marinezor as we like to call her Mabe is an extraordinary interpretive guide excelling in Cubas indigenous Flora and Fauna. Her enthusiasm, wealth of knowledge and adventurous spirit makes her a tour favourite amongst our guests! Oh, did we mention she's also fluent in Spanish, English and French. Along with her husband Alian, the dive master, they make for a true dynamic duo. We are very excited to have Mabe on board with Cuba Adventure Company.
Alian Alonso is our Scuba diving master, spending 5 years with the National Military Academy in the Scuba diving department. He now makes his home in the beautiful province of Cienfuegos with his wife Mabe. Alian works as a dive instructor at Yaguanabo Resort near the historic city of Trinidad and is one of the co-founders of Perla del Sur which means the pearl of the south. This project focuses on cleaning and preserving the corals of the southern shore. We invited Alian to join Cuba Adventure Company because of his passion for diving, teaching, and commitment to help preserve the magic of the Sea world.
Meylin Cruz Gonzalez, lives in the beautiful province of Cienfuegos, Cuba in the south center of the island and is the proud mother of a great little boy named Erick. Meylin went to college to study music for six years specializing in piano, guitar and voice. She furthered her education by graduating in tourism and now works in Villa Guajimico as the entertainment coordinator, recreational guide and public relationship manager at the resort. Her passions include a love of languages, dance, sports and guiding outdoor activities including kayaking, climbing, caving, horseback riding, scuba diving, trekking and now SUP'ing. We are very excited to have Meylin on board the Cuba Adventure Team as our Multi Sport Specialist. Her love for Cuba is infectious...come see!
Kristen has a strong appreciation for the finer things in life, you know...... The forests, bodies of water, wetlands and all the of the incredible living beings within them. Kristen took to a kayak initially, to get closer to the wonderful critters of the wetlands. Exploring quietly whenever opportunity allowed. This time in the kayak blossomed into an escape from reality, stress relief and eventually adventure. Her kayaking soon led to adventure racing and hours of training in the kayak as well as testing out endless kayaks to figure what felt best suited to her needs. In the years to come, Kristen wanted to share her love for paddling with others and took up guiding on the Columbia River in the Rocky Mountains. A couple years later she took a position as a Physical Education Teacher on a First Nations Reserve in Northern Coastal BC and wanted to bring kayaking to the lives of her students. She pursued her certifications in instructing and guiding sea kayak style and had the fortunate opportunity to bring the love of kayaking to many of her students. Kristen embraces every chance to share her passion and explore new places and can't wait to paddle alongside some new faces in Cuba!
(Host of Cuba Yoga Adventures)
Namaste adventure-yogis! My name is Steph - I have a gypsy heart and a hippie soul. I'm also a bit of a body-nerd with a sneaky degree in Physiotherapy. I grew up spending summers in & on the water, and I feel most at home when there is somewhere to dip my toes. "Home" is a pretty fluid concept for me - I've called about 8 different countries 'home' in the last 15 years! My whole adult life I worked as a performer in waterski and stunt shows, which is what afforded such fun international opportunities, and a lot of travel. As the stunt world took a toll on my body, I started to dive seriously into yoga - and it completely changed my life. I studied and taught yoga in India for a couple seasons, and started my company Suptopia Floating Yoga in 2014. SUP yoga is where my deep love of nature beautifully collides with my passion for yoga. I love to practice outside - when you take away the walls, the ceiling, the "floor" - you somehow end up so incredibly tuned in to the world around you. Which translates to being so incredibly present within yourself. Come get mindfully adventurous with me in blissful, unspoiled Cuba... A trip to nourish your body, mind, and soul.
Find out more about Steph:
Web & Blog: steph.yoga
Instagram: @suptopia @gypsygirlyoga
Writing this bio is a bit difficult for me because when I reflect on the years I've spent in the outdoors I can’t think of a time when my love and passion for the outdoors was not a part of my life. The challenge for me has always been focusing on one activity. It's safe to say I've failed at this and mostly because when it comes to outdoor adventure, I still have what I call “the fever”. I can't shake it.
Having the fever is an outdoor illness that causes one to want to do anything and everything that inspires a sense of adventure in the outdoors. Growing up in Canada is and has been one of the best remedies for this illness.
Along the way I've had the good fortune of being able to work in the paddle sports industry serving the many customers searching to experience this same outdoor adventure. My reward was always the feeling I had watching a happy customer leave the store with a canoe or kayak on top of there vehicle. I look forward to that same sense of joy serving you as one of Cuba Adventure Company's guides. Don't worry, the worst that could happen is you just might catch the FEVER!!
Lets just say the forest is where I find a deep sense of wonder and discovery. Growing up my dream as a kid was to live in a tree fort and I have to admit I still find that idea pretty exciting. This alone should tell you something about my love for the wilderNESS and it’s treasures.
Exploring off the beaten trail or bush-wacking into the unknown is the best way to see a country’s natural beauty and it is with great pleasure that I get to guide you along the way. After the amazing experiences of exploring Cuba’s beautiful South Central and the lush exotic East, I am excited to share with people the dynamic natural wonder of Cuba away from the typical resort and beach. Instead of the typical portrayal of this country, we get to go into its unspoiled coasts and forested mountains and be among the wonderful people in their real city and experience an outstanding place away from home. Let’s go find a giant millipede and sit on a mossy rock while we gaze at a waterfall……maybe share lunch with a forest crab and learn Spanish words for “awesome”. I can’t wait to explore with you!
Jorge Felix Lemos Aberola
I was born in November 26,1973. My wife and son are my buddies in life, about me well here you are..!
Normal school as every kid until high school where I choose to attend sports academy in Havana. After graduation I started as a physical education professor in primary school and also some high schools in Cienfuegos. I also work as a life guard trainer throughout Cuba. Five years later I went to Suecia to take an international rescue course for two years. When I got back to Cuba I got a job at Marina Marlin in Cienfuegos where I was an instructor of sailing and kayaking. Months later Cuba Kayak Adventures offered me this amazing opportunity a sea kayak guide in south central Cuba. I was hooked instantly and I hope to do this forever! I love water sports. Thank you Peter and Jay for this adventure. So what are you waiting for!? Life is short! Come to Cuba and let us guide you on an awesome adventure.