CNN: Lebanon, The Mediterranean's unlikely surf destinationBookmark this
(CNN) Off the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon lies a seaside town that locals call the "7-kilometer playground."
Known for its sandy beaches, the ancient beach town Jiyeh is a rarity along the country's long, rocky coastline.
There, you'll find a tight-knit surfing community.
While Lebanon may not be an obvious choice as a surfing destination, its popularity is growing. Its waves are modest, but the community's passion is strong.
"People wouldn't believe that in the Mediterranean there is a lot of surf," Paul Abbas tells CNN. Abbas says he is Lebanon's only surfboard shaper.
"We get a decent amount of surfing days and I think we have good quality waves ... and the good thing is we can surf all year-round."
Abbas saw an opportunity in Lebanon's surfing market in 2010 when he became interested by the sport after bodyboarding for many years.
He says he struggled to find surfboards within the region and that most surfers -- who were part of the small community back then -- were forced to import them from abroad.
Frustrated by this, Abbas turned to YouTube to learn how to make his own..
From there, and after more practice, he began to regularly craft more and more surfboards and eventually created his own business -- P.A. Surfboards -- for the growing Lebanese surfing community.
"The boards got better especially as I started to learn about the physics of surfing -- what makes them work on certain types of waves, and I started adjusting my designs," he says.
Since 2010 he's made over 100 boards from his family's home. And while he still works full-time as a technician for a TV organization, he says thanks to Lebanon's surfing boom his creative passion for surfboard shaping may soon become his primary job.
"The number of surfers is really growing fast now and that's one of the reasons why my production is increasing.
"When I started I never would have believed that I could (make a living out of it) -- it wasn't my goal ... But I was lucky to start it when I did because the market (to sell surfboards) is almost full."
Meet Abbas, Lebanon's only surfboard shaper
Lebanese surfboard shaper Paul Abbas learned how to make surfboards on YouTube after he stuggles to find boards on sale within the region.
From deserted beaches to vibrant surfing community
Surfer Sonia Lynn gabriel
25-year-old Sonia Lynn Gabriel is one of them. She says while Lebanon's surf can be unpredictable, Jiyeh is her favorite spot -- since it provides the most consistent waves. The beach is 4-miles long, consisting of clear water and shallow reefs -- which generate attractive wave setups.
Change in Lebanese culture
'It's a sport that really unites people"
Syrian refugee's determination to become a surfer
"I really wanted to surf."
Video supplied by the Hussein Baydoun / United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Source: By Bianca Britton, CNN