Cuba is a large island nation in the Caribbean Sea, an archipelago actually, well known for its white pristine Caribbean beaches.
With over 1,220 miles of coastline, there are plenty of “best beaches in Cuba” to choose from!
On the south side of the island is the Caribbean Sea, while to the north you have the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean respectively, and each beach area has its own unique charm and personality!
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Does Cuba Have Beautiful Beaches?
Well, Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean! Technically, the island belongs to the North American continent, but still, it definitely has a Caribbean vibe all over.
With all those miles of coastline, Cuba has a lot of great beaches to soak up the sun and relax. Some white and soft, some rockier, or even a bit cliffy!
A few of the best beaches in Cuba include Playa del Este close to Havana, Playa Ancon outside Trinidad, and the beaches of the Cuban Keys, like Cayo Santa Maria, an island triplet off the northern coast. And, of course, the Varadero peninsula!
So, whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or participate in some watersports, you’re sure to find the perfect spot on the island.
Here are some of the best beaches in Cuba – perfect for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and enjoying the incredible Caribbean ambiance!
Best Beaches In Cuba Map!
1. Best Beaches In Havana | Playas del Este
Playas del Este is located just east of the city, with a string of smaller beaches that comprise the best beaches in Havana!
The first one is about 20 minutes outside the buzzing Havana in the direction of Varadero in the area called La Habana del Este, or East Havana.
Head out of the city through the tunnel on Via Monumental to the east, and the first beaches you will find in the village area called Alamar about 20 minutes out.
This is a Cuban residential area, with Playa Alamar and Playita de Los Rusos (Russians) just on the shore.
Heading on, you find the Playa de las Hermanitas, and Playa Bucaranao in Micro X, both small beaches with little infrastructure, but white and lovely!
From Playa Bucaranao you can find scuba diving trips and snorkeling trips as well, for those into that. Just a few hundred meters off the beach, there is a tiny wreck that is popular to visit with goggles and fins!
Pro Tip: Get a cute travel duffle bag that has room for your laptop, a pair of shoes, a change of clothes, and the necessities for your flight! I love this one from Bagsmart, it works on the beach as well!
Further on you reach the most popular beach areas of Playas del Este, a long stretch of white sands where each area has a separate name. Here you find:
Playa del Este Beaches
- Playa Tarara
- Playa Megano
- Playa Santa Maria del Mar
- Playa Mar Azul
- Playa Boca Ciega
- Playa Guanabo
Playa Santa Maria del Mar has some beach facilities and is quite well-maintained, making it a good option for families or those who want to relax in comfort.
Guanabo is a larger village (or small town) outside Havana where you don’t find too many foreign tourists, but there are some, and there are also casa particulares for rent here, as well as restaurants, bars, and some hotels!
GETTING HERE: If you are staying in Havana, you can book an organized tour to Playas del Este for the day, get your own taxi to bring you there and back, or catch the bus from Parque Central that leaves around every 30 minutes.
Playas del Este is a great place to relax and enjoy the Caribbean sands just outside the capital, but be aware there are not a lot of beach bars and restaurants like you find in many other Caribbean destinations!
So you are best advised to bring what you need for your day on the best beaches in Havana, like lunch, drinks, sunscreen, and (offline) music (you don’t want to be the only one on the beach not having a reggeaton party)!
Best Beaches in Varadero!
If you’re looking for infinite white sands, some of the best beaches in Cuba are on the island’s northern coast. There, you’ll find plenty of sandy shores and crystal-clear waters to enjoy.
There is no doubt that Varadero is one of the best beach destinations in Cuba. So, if you’re looking for the best beaches in Varadero, here are the top picks!
Pro Tip: Get yourself a water bottle with a filter before your Cuba holiday, and you can drink water from anywhere!
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2. Varadero Beach
Varadero Beach runs along Varadero town, and if you are staying in a casa particular in Varadero you are almost bound to be only a few minutes walk from Varadero Beach wherever you are staying!
In 2019, Varadero Beach was actually voted the second most beautiful beach in the world on TripAdvisor, so there is no doubt this is an amazing Caribbean sandy getaway.
The beaches are mainly on the northern side of the narrow peninsula, while on the southern side, you find natural parks, the Varadero Golf Club and golf course, as well as mangrove zones.
In Varadero, the long string of beaches also has zones with different names, like Cayo Blanco (or Playa Blanca) with soft white sands, and Playa Coral.
3. Playa Coral Beach In Varadero
Home to a wide variety of marine life, Playa Coral is located in a protected area on the mainland just before the peninsula starts, and it’s the perfect place to go snorkeling or scuba diving. You will find Elk Horn Coral in massive groves and lots of shoals of fish!
So if you are a sucker for white Caribbean beaches, you will not be disappointed in Varadero! Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or explore the underwater world, there’s a place for you here.
4. Playa Punta Hicacos In Varadero
Playa Punta Hicacos is considered one of the best beach areas in Cuba, all the way on the tip of the Hicacos peninsula at the end of Varadero. With its white sands, crystal-clear waters, and secluded location with the ocean in all cardinal directions, it’s a true paradise.
At the Punta Hicacos in Varadero, you find the Iberostar Laguna Azul and Iberostar Playa Alameda all-inclusive hotels sitting right at the beach!
Best Beach In Trinidad Playa Giron
If you’re looking for the best Cuban beaches in Trinidad, you won’t be disappointed. If you prefer a quieter, more secluded beach experience, head to Playa Girón just 15 minutes outside the colonial city of Trinidad.
5. Stunning And Zen Ancon Beach
This beautiful Ancon Beach beach is located in a small cove and is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the tranquility of nature, swimming, and sunbathing.
Guardalavaca, which offers stunning views and plenty of activities; and Cayo Coco, which is a great place to snorkel and explore.
You can also find plenty of places that are perfect for windsurfing, fishing, and other water sports, or hop on a catamaran for a one-hour tour to go snorkeling!
Best Beaches In Pinar del Rio & Vinales
Vinales is not on the coast of Cuba, but you can get to amazing beaches from Vinales in between one and two hours!
You have several little towns on the main Cuban island, and the two keys, Cayo Jutia and Cayo Levisas off the coast of Pinar del Rio, and one of them you need a boat to visit!
6. Cayo Jutia Beach
Lying on a small peninsula just off the northwest coast of Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico, you can drive out to Cayo Jutias and Jutias Beach on a pedraplen. The beach out here has a wild and rugged look, a bit “untouched by humans” feel to it.
While it may be off the beaten track for most tourists, it is a popular destination for local Cubans. There are also a few amazing little beach bars and restaurants here if you want to give them a go!
Lots of mangroves and coral reefs frame the coastline here, and after hours of drowsing on the beach in or out of the sun, the crystal clear Caribbean waters are only meters away when you need a cooling down!
And you don’t want to miss the sunset at Cayo Jutias, when the ocean turns pink in the last rays of the day!
7. Cayo Levisa Beach
Cayo Levisa really is a cayo, an islet a 35 minutes boat trip off the northwest coast of Cuba from Palma Rubia. Once you get yourself here, you can enjoy miles of crispy white sands and class-clear water!
Cayo Levisa sports a beach-bungalow-style hotel, a rather simple restaurant, and a fully equipped scuba diving center, so it is perfect for those who like to explore underwater.
After Ernest Hemingway discovered these waters in the 40ies, he actually set up a fishing camp on Cayo Paraiso (he loved to fish), an islet a bit to the east of Cayo Levisa. Cayo Levisa has up to 100 visitors daily, as well as space for around 50 guests in the hotel.
8. Playa Maria la Gorda Beach
Maria la Gorda is the dream of every diving enthusiast. Its crystal-clear waters and impressive sea beds with reefs and coral reefs make this destination in the province of Pinar del Ríos southern tip, one of the best places to scuba dive in Cuba!
The road over to this almost westernmost bottom tip of Cuba is a bit rough and filled with potholes, and upon arrival, you find a single hotel on the beach. Maria la Gorda is super remote, and you feel like you have found an oasis far from the rest of the world!
One reason you should do this journey, is if you love scuba diving!
There are several good scuba diving spots out here, but two areas are particularly popular with their spectacular sea beds, full of corals and sea turtles.
These are the Valle de Coral Negro (Black Coral Valley), which is said to be the largest black coral surface in Cuba, and the Salón de María, where you can appreciate sea lilies and lots of colorful corals!
At Centro Internacional de Buceo (International Diving Center) it is possible to do diving courses over multiple days getting a diving certificate issued by the World Underwater Federation.
One reason María La Gorda is considered among the ten best places for scuba diving in all of Latin America is because of the Reserva de la Biosfera de Guanahacabibes (Guanahacabibes Biosphere Reserve) the waters have!
In addition to scuba diving, at Maria la Gorda you can go snorkeling and deep-sea fishing. There are several restaurants in the area where you can try authentic Cuban food and, of course, the best seafood dishes.
How to Get to María la Gorda?
Maria la Gorda is in the western part of Cuba, so the best option to get there is from Viñales or from Pinar del Rio provinces.
As the trip is quite long it is not optimal for a day trip, although you can do it in one day if you leave early. From Viñales you can go in a taxi collectivo, or a private one, the trip normally will take around three hours.
Bay Of Pigs
The Bahia de Cochinos or Bay of Pigs is another must-see place, famous for being the center point in the crisis between Cuba and the US in 1962 when the US tried to invade Cuba after the revolution!
9. Playa Giron
The Bay of Pigs is a deep narrow bay on the southern shores west of Cienfuegos, where Playa Giron is situated just at the end of a sleepy little town with one hotel, casa particular options, some shops, restaurants and markets.
And there is a small museum here as well, with the history of the invasion from the fun-to-see Cuban perspective!
Best Holguin Beaches!
Holguín is a city in eastern Cuba, AND a province, with shores on the northeastern part of the island.
Before Columbus, the indigenous Taino people lived here in huts made from royal palm before the area was urbanized by the Spanish and their artifacts are shown at the local Holguin La Periquera museum.
But when it comes to beaches, these are the wonderful ones in Holguin!
10. Playa Esmeralda Beach In Holguin
Located close to Guardalavaca town in Holguin, Playa Esmeralda is somewhat a high-end beach, where you find two super-luxury hotels as well as casa particulares if you prefer that.
The pristine white sands here are surrounded by palm trees, and if they don’t provide enough shade, the beach parasols will! The views over the Caribbean are spectacular, the sunsets mesmerizing, and swimming in the pristine waters is, as always, heavenly!
Not far from Playa Esmeralda, you find national parks and nature reserves to check out, and three is a nearby Dolphinarium in Naranjo Bay where you can go for a swim with dolphins!
11. Playa Guardalavaca Beach In Holguin
Playa Guardalavaca’s picturesque appearance has a history of attracting both Cubans and tourists and is one of the most renowned beaches in Cuba!
Rumor has it Christopher Columbus said it was the most beautiful place he ever laid eyes on, when he arrived in the 16th Century!
The immediate area around Guardalavaca is quite developed, you can find tons of good restaurants and hotels at any budget you prefer to spend here. Still, you will sense an authentic Cuban vibe about the area.
There are also quite a few things to do in the area, like horseback riding on the beach, going scuba diving, or even an eco-archeologic trail if you have had enough of beach-lounging for one holiday!
Playa Guardalavaca is absolutely worth your time and energy. And, a fun fact, Fidel Castro himself inaugurated the first resort that was established here back in the 70s!
The Cuban Keys Beaches!
As Cuba is an archipelago, there obviously are lots of little islands, 4000 to be exact. And although not all are inhabited, some are.
Among these little secluded paradises, some have been turned into oases of all-inclusive resorts, luxury, and not-moving-a-finger holiday destinations. With incredible beaches!
12. Best Cayo Santa Maria Beaches
Cayo Santa María is a small island, or actually an island triplet, off Cuba’s north-central coast in the Jardines del Rey archipelago. The island is linked by a road, or a pedraplen, to the town of Caibarién on the Cuban main island.
Cayo Santa María is one of the Cuban keys famous for its white sand beaches and pampering luxury all-inclusive resorts!
On Cayo Santa Maria, there are no residents, the island is simply an oasis of high-end luxury all-inclusive resorts, and you need to stay at one in order to access a beach out here. Or, you can buy a pasa-dia, a day pass, to stay for the day.
The amazing beaches of Cayo Santa Maria cover almost the entire length of the northern coastline of the Cayo, divided into nine areas with a total length of around 13 kilometers (8 mi)!
- Playa Matamoros (300 m)
- Playa Madruguilla (200 m)
- Playa Canon (2.8 km),
- Playa La Estrella (3.5 km)
- Playa Las Caletas (1 km)
- Playa La Colorada (1.9 km)
- Playa Perla Blanca (550 m)
- Playa Los Delfines (1.4 km)
- Playa Las Gaviotas (800 m)
On the east end of Playa Canon, you’ll find a Clothing Optional (CO) beach. Guests that are staying at Hotel Sol Cayo Santa Maria have direct access to this CO beach, situated on the west side of the hotel grounds, with parasols, and lounge chairs!
Cayo Las Brujas & Cayo Ensenachos Beaches
There are also fantastic beaches on the two other keys in Cayo Santa Maria, called Cayo Las Brujas and Cayo Ensenachos. These are:
- Playa La Salina (2.4 km) and
- Playa La Manteca (400 m) on Cayo Las Brujas
- Playa Ensenachos (1.3 km) and
- Playa El Megano (1.0 km) on Cayo Ensenachos
The entire archipelago here is protected by the UNESCO-recognized “Reserva de Biosfera Buenavista”, and the coastline on the eastern tip of Cayo Santa Maria, Playa Las Gaviotas, is part of a wildlife refuge that is protected, where no hotel will ever be built!
13. Cayo Coco & Guillermo Beaches
The fourth largest island in Cuba, Cayo Coco is part of the Jardines del Rey archipelago and is home to some incredible beaches of which a couple is ranked amongst the best in the world. Just off the tip of Cayo Coco, across a small pedraplen, lies the smaller Cayo Guillermo, and the two can almost be counted as one.
Playa Los Flamencos is a truly amazing beach running all along the northern coastline of Cayo Coco. Los Flamencos does not have a lot of developed beach amenities, and there is no vibrant nightlife here.
But this is a perfect place for diving and snorkeling, and because of the reefs ashore, hardly any waves, so it is a very safe place for swimmers and snorkelers.
Playa Pilar is another paradise lying all the way out on the tip of Cayo Guillermo, another beach where you hardly can see where the sand ends and the water begins on the Cuban shore.
Check out the Iberostar Playa Pilar on Cayo Guillermo, just a short stretch from Playa Pilar, an amazing all-inclusive place with all you need and a spectacular in-house spa to go with it!
As all the keys are a bit touristy in comparison with many other places in Cuba, places like Cayo Coco & Guillermo have plenty of high-quality watersports for travelers to explore.
As well as having spectacular visibility for snorkeling and scuba diving conditions, it is one of the best places on the island to go kitesurfing!
Best Cayo Largo Del Sur Cuba Beaches
Cayo Largo del Sur, generally known as Cayo Largo, is a tiny peaceful island located off the southern coast of the main island of Cuba, east of Isla de la Juventud (Youth Island).
Its location gives the whole island a “desert island” sensation, as there are only a few hotels out here and endless crispy white beaches! Cayo Largo is not where you go for over-the-top luxury resort experiences. There are nice hotels here as well, but there are no casa particulares to rent.
There is an international airport on Cayo Largo called “Aeropuerto Vilo Acuña”, as well as some all-inclusive resorts, an international marina, a dive center, a Sea Turtle Rescue Center, and a fishing center.
There is also a small village called “Isla del Sol” where you’ll find a few shops, entertainment facilities, and snack bars, but there are no permanent residents out here at Cayo Largo.
14. Playa Sirena Beach Cayo Largo
Playa Sirena in Cayo Largo is one of the most popular beaches on the Cuban Keys, separated from the main island of Cuba by a stretch of sea. It’s super famous for its crystal-clear water and white-white sandy beaches!
Playa Sirena is a very tranquil and calm place, exactly what you want if you’re planning a relaxing holiday.
Of course, there are all the water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving available, as in any Caribbean destination with respect for itself.
Be advised though, there are very few hotels and restaurants for you to choose from, so Cayo Largo is not for the party-seeking crowds!
15. Playa Paraiso Beach In Cayo Largo
Not far away also on Cayo Largo, you find the equally amazing Playa Paraiso where you find an all-inclusive resort with the same name if you want to check out yet another of Cuba’s impressive beaches in this little islet off the Cuban coast!
I have even heard Playa Paraiso referred to as “heaven on earth”, so if a heavenly palm-strewn white beach is your idea of heaven as well, you are going to like it here.
With bright white sands that meet the most incredible turquoise water, this beach is regularly featured on lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world, no wonder. Its waters are super for snorkeling, swimming, or fishing, or just lying still and taking it all in!
16. Santa Lucia Beach Camaguey
Playa Santa Lucia in Camaguey, on the eastern part of the Cuban main island, is extremely attractive to scuba divers. In the areas, close to Santa Lucia, there are no less than 40 dive spots, and particularly popular is diving in the shark cluster area.
In the underwater world of the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Playa Santa Lucia, you will see hundreds of species of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans.
The beach has several areas with rental equipment, some restaurants, snack bars, and diving centers where you can rent equipment for diving, snorkeling, and parasailing. you can also get help in organizing dive trips and going deep-sea fishing here.
At Playa Santa Sucia you will have no high waves, as there is a barrier coral reef along the beach. Playa Santa Lucia is super suitable for a relaxing family vacation and for those that like water sports. And everyone that loves amazing Caribbean beaches of course!
Best Santiago De Cuba Beaches
Santiago de Cuba is home to some of the best scuba diving in the world. With its clear waters and abundance of marine life, it’s no wonder that this is a popular destination for scuba divers!
There are also a number of small beaches just by the entrance to the bay and east of Santiago de Cuba, but here are the two best Santiago de Cuba beaches you need to know about!
17. Playa El Bueycabon Santiago de Cuba
Playa El Bueycabón is located around 20 kilometers outside Santiago de Cuba to the west, and if you’re looking for a remote and untouched beach experience, El Bueycito is a good place for you.
You can only reach its secluded beach by boat, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and the feeling of being the only person in the world! Located in a deep bay with calm waters, Playa Bueycabón is hardly ever crowded, and will give you a zen beach day!
It is a tiny beach around 100 meters long, surrounded by beautiful forested hills, while its sands slip only gently into its bay, providing ample shallows before the water deepens.
18. Siboney Beach Santiago de Cuba
In the other direction, you find Siboney Beach, around 20 kilometers to the east of Santiago de Cuba! As Santiago de Cuba is very close, the locals from Santiago often come here.
It’s a clean beach, although not with a lot of amenities, it has a bit of a rugged appearance and a pebbled bottom under the water. Yet, the water is invitingly clear, the beach is surrounded by palm trees, all in all, a good choice for relaxing alongside the locals. Not least because it is super close to Santiago!
You can also find a casa particular close to the beach if you prefer to stay here rather than in the city! Also, there is a nice restaurant on the beach with excellent seafood!
FAQ’s Best Beaches In Cuba!
According to search engines, there are A LOT of questions people have about the best beaches in Cuba or beaches in Cuba in general! I get it, if you have never visited before, you want to know everything.
Or at least enough, whether it is to satisfy your curiosity, or make sure your plan is on target and based on the correct information!
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As I live in Havana Cuba for the moment (well, not as a resident, but I stay here most of the time), I will do my best to answer all the things people wonder before booking their amazing Cuba holidays!
What Is The Most Famous Beach In Cuba?
Well, that depends on the criteria for the fame!
Varadero Beach, the super long beach running along the Hicacos Peninsula is probably one of the most famous beaches in Cuba because it is located exactly there, on the paradisiacal peninsula commonly known as Varadero.
As Varadero is the largest resort area in the Caribbean, and incredibly popular as a holiday destination, a lot of people from across the world come here every year.
ALSO, because Varadero beach was voted the second most beautiful beach in the world by TripAdvisor in 2019 – not a small achievement (even though it just has to exist to achieve that)!
What Is The Nicest Beach In Cuba?
The nicest beach in Cuba, or the prettiest, is often referred to as Playa Pilar on Cayo Guillermo, one of the thousands of Cuban keys.
The Cuban Keys are famous FOR their beaches, as well as pampering luxurious all-inclusive resorts. The keys generally are connected with one of the two main archipelagos in Cuba; Jardines del Rey north of the Cuban main island, and Jardines de la Reina off the southern coast.
The individual beaches on the Cuban keys are almost too numerous to be able to list all of them, but you might want to pay attention to the ambiance of the various keys, and accessibility and distances, instead!
Where Are Cuba Beach Resorts?
So, you find Cuba beach resorts anywhere you find a beach, is the short answer to that one! However, there are buts, of course.
Around the bigger cities, there are beach resorts, and they are generally nice. The most amazing, lush, paradise-like beach resorts, however, you generally find around the most paradisiacal beaches!
Which generally means, in Varadero, and the different keys. And the “best” keys for resort life would be Cayo Santa Maria (amazing), Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo (basically the same place), and Cayo Largo in the southern waters off the coast of Cubas’s main island!
I am not sure, really, what this search term actually wants to find out, whether it is the best beaches in Havana, the number of beaches in Havana, or Havana beaches with resorts attached to them!
Regardless, above in this article, I have listed the “best beaches in Havana” for you, but here is a bit more information. The absolute best beaches in Havana you find in Havana del Este, where you find all the Playas del Este.
This area though, does not have a lot of spectacular all-inclusive resorts, probably because there are not a lot of foreign tourist visiting this area. Most foreign tourists visiting Cuba travel directly to Varadero, or one of the keys.
There are, however, hotels and resorts, but they are generally more run down and with fewer amenities and services than the more popular areas for foreign tourists. If you are into authentic experiences though, you might love it here!
If luxury is your thing, you will find amazing casa particulares along Playas del Este, houses or mansions with large patios, jacuzzis and pools, bars, and even staff – super close to the beaches. You can do your research to find those here, if you like.
There are also beaches on the other side of Havana, the area called Miramar and Playa. This is the “west end” of Havana, the high-end area for living and city life, but this area does not have the great beaches in Havana at all.
If you want to stay here because it is a beautiful part of the city with nice homes, parks, restaurants, and business venues, you will be able to go for a swim here as well (and there is a nice marina where you can keep your yacht in Havana, or depart for sea adventures).
But the beaches here are no more than “ok”, if you want my opinion. Guess you can not have it all in one place!
Wrap-Up The Best Beaches in Cuba!
Right, that was a lot! If you are looking at the beaches before you decide where to go, I hope you have found enough information here to make up your mind!
Cuban beaches are generally very nice, although some of the ones close to bigger cities might be a bit crowded from time to time.
Also, Cubans are not super careful with rubbish (apparently there is a system for recycling, but people keep throwing their garbage anywhere), so some beaches may be a bit littered. Especially after the holidays and on the weekends! FYI.
Anyways, happy holiday planning! The Caribbean beaches in Cuba await!
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