If you are looking for the best beaches in Cuba, search no further! I am quite an expert on gorgeous beaches, as I grew up in Sardinia an island that has the most impressive concentration of jaw dropping beaches.
You see, I am hardly ever impressed when I get to a beach in a place outside Sardinia. Don’t say this out loud, but to be honest I didn’t even find the beaches in Antigua to be that special. Colombia? I was hardly amazed.
Mention this Caribbean country, however, and I will admit that the majority of beaches are simply gorgeous, even to a beach expert like me. And the best part of it is that they can be enjoyed year-round!
This post includes a selection of the best beaches the country. I will divide them by region, and add a few travel tips to make the most of them.
For a more general guide, check out my post “The Most Fantastic Things To In Do Cuba: The Ultimate Guide.”
Make sure to also read my post “How To Get The Visa For Cuba In 8 Easy Steps (Also For Americans).”
32 Incredibly Beautiful Cuban Beaches
Playas del Este
At only 18 km from Havana, this is a series of nice beaches that start in Bacuranao and ends in Guanabo. These are some of the best beaches in Cuba, and they are very popular among tourists and locals who are looking for a quick getaway from the chaos of the capital. The good news is that it is not nearly as developed as Varadero.
These beaches are characterized by beautiful white sand and clear blue waters. They are the kind of place where time seems to have stopped. Chances are that in the winter months you’ll get the place to yourself, whereas in July and August the beaches will be crowded with locals escaping from the city.
How to get to Playas del Este
This is a common day trip from Havana. The beaches can be reached by public bus: Havana Bus Tour leaves every hour from Parque Central. You can also go by train, with the Hershey Train departing 5 times a day. Or else, you can book a private transfer here.
Planning to go to Havana? Read my post “27 Absolutely Unmissable, Fun And Quirky Things To Do In Havana.”
Pinar del Rio
One of the best beaches in Cuba is located at about 65 km from Viñales. It’s so gorgeous that you will likely mistake it for heaven. It’s 3 km of white sand, mangroves and the clearest waters you can imagine, with the reef within easy reach. Here, you can relax in the sun, snorkel and even dive. The beach is nicely serviced so you can rent beds and umbrellas.
There are a couple of places where you can eat, but the food is cafeteria style. Not far from the beach there is a lighthouse that dates back to 1902.
TIP: Most tourists go on organized tours that include transportation and a rather tasteless lunch. Invest a bit extra money for a private transfer, so that you can stay as long as you want (organized tours leave when the sun is still shining bright in the sky) and instead of the tasteless lunch you can ask one of the local fishermen to cook fresh lobster for you, the Cuban way.
Where to stay in Cayo Jutias
Most people visit on a day trip. Here’s a few good casas that can be booked online:
Cayo Levisa has some of the best beaches in Cuba. They are as nice as those of Cayo Jutias, but a bit more crowded since there is a hotel with bungalows. Cayo Levisa can only be reached via a short boat ride from Palma Rubia and counts with a 3 km beach and fantastically transparent waters. There is a diving center where you can rent equipment.
Playa Maria la Gorda
One of the best beaches in Cuba is Playa Maria La Gorda. The beach is lovely, with white sand and lined with thick vegetation. This is a favorite of divers, thanks to the beautiful reef: coral formations and incredible marine life can be seen at a mere 14 meters under the surface! You won’t find any resorts here, but one of the most isolated hotels in the country.
Bahia de Cochinos
Some of the best beaches in Cuba are in the province of Matanzas. There, my favorite place by far is the Bahia de Cochinos, known internationally as Bay of the Pigs. To be fair, this isn’t really a beach by an enclosed bay with incredibly transparent waters.
Contrary to most beaches, here you won’t find sandy beaches, but diente de perro (jagged rocks). It’s not really a place to chill in the sun or go for walks, but if snorkeling or diving is your thing, this is the place to go.
TIP: You can visit on a day trip from Cienfuegos, the closest big city. The best way to roam the area is on private transportation, which can be arranged through your casa particular (remember to do it the Cuban way, and haggle the price!) and during which you can also stop in some of the beaches mentioned below.
This isn’t often mentioned among the most famous beaches in the country, but it’s worth stopping by during a tour of the area. It’s really not a touristy place, so chances are nobody else will be there when you visit – there only is a mediocre resort in the area, and a couple of casas particulares. It’s worth going for a short while to enjoy the beautiful waters.
Where to stay in Playa Larga
There are some casas particulares nearby that can be booked online:
On the eastern side of the bay, this is one of the best beaches in Cuba. It takes its name from the French pirate Gilbert Giron, who in the 17th century regularly raided the area until the locals managed to catch him and finally beheaded him. The beach is long and sandy and has easy access to the gorgeous reef.
Where to stay in the area
There are a few good casas particulares near the beach. Here’s a selection of them that can be booked online:
Not a beach proper, Caleta Buena is located at around 8 km south of Playa Giron. It’s a fantastic small cove with some of the clearest waters you could hope for, perfect for swimming as it is well protected from the currents. As opposed to most beaches, there is a fee to access Caleta Buena, but this includes the rental of beds, and access to a lunch buffet and drinks throughout the day.
Playa Los Cocos
Located on the eastern side of the bay, this is a nice sandy beach (as opposed to the majority in the area which are rocky) with beautiful, transparent waters, making it one of the best in the region, and one of the best beaches in Cuba.
There’s no denying that Varadero beach, in the Hicacos Peninsula, is one of the best beaches in Cuba. Located at a mere 2 hours drive from Havana, this 25 km long, white beach is lined with all-inclusive resorts and is a very famous (if only a bit too touristy) destination in the country. It’s the kind of place where you can get dance lessons, fitness classes and other resort kind of entertainment.
The good news is that the surroundings are fabulous, with a gorgeous reef and lots of sea caves.
What makes this one of the nicest beaches in the country is also the number of diving sites (though to be fair they aren’t very close to the beach) and the offer of water sports such as sailing and fishing.
TIP: If you want to experience Varadero minus the international crowds, or hope to see more Cuban people, go in July and August. You can get there from Havana by car. You can book your transfer here.
Where to stay in Varadero
Most people that go to this part of the country stay in all inclusive resorts. If that really isn’t your kind of place, you can count on a handful of decent casas particulares. Here’s a few of them that can be booked online:
When it comes easy access to the coral reef, Playa Coral is one of the best beaches in Cuba. It’s located on the coastal road, at about half way between Matanzas and Varadero. Though reaching the reef from the beach is fairly easy, the best way to see it is from Laguna de Maya, the Fauna Reserve.
There, you can rent any equipment you may need to snorkel and hire a guide that will show you the best spots. There are supposed to be around 300 species of fish in the area.
One of the nicest beaches near Cienfuegos (18 km south of the city) is Rancho Luna. The beach is nice, with golden fine sand and clear blue waters, perfect to relax in the sun and swim. The coral reef can be accessed easily. There is a diving center, two hotels and a couple of casas particulares in the village on the way to the lighthouse.
TIP: There are supposed to be some local buses going from Cienfuegos to Rancho Luna, but the easiest way to get there is by scooter. You can rent one in town.
Punta La Cueva
Punta la Cueva is one of the nicest beaches near Cienfuegos and very close to Rancho Luna. It’s a nice, quiet beach with clear, calm waters.
This is one of the best beaches in Cuba at just 12 km from the lovely Trinidad. The beach is nice, long and sandy, with inviting waters. You can easily get there by bus or taxi, and even by bike but keep in mind that the ride back will be mostly uphill. Alternatively, you can opt to ride a classic car all the way Playa Ancón.
TIP: Bring come insect repellent. Sandflies are everywhere in Ancón and they are particularly aggressive.
At 25 km south-east of Playa Ancon there’s Cayo Blanco, a tiny island that can be reached by boat from Marina Trinidad. The beach is small, but the deep-sea incredibly clear and perfect for water sports.
Boat tours to Cayo Blanco can be booked in one of the many state agencies in Trinidad and they include transportation to the Marina and back, boat ride, lunch and drinks.
TIP: Go to Cayo Blanco only in perfect weather conditions. If it is overcast or windy, the boat won’t stop to allow you swim and you will miss out.
Looking for more information on Trinidad? Read my post “Trinidad, Cuba: The Most Complete Guide.”
Playa Santa Lucia
This is one of the nicest beaches in Cuba, located at around 112 km from Camaguey. It’s a beautiful beach that stretches for 20 km, and a perfect diving spot thanks to one of the most easily accessible reefs. The beach lacks the tourist infrastructure that is present at other beaches in Cuba, but the nearby all-inclusive resort are a good option if you want to spend a few days in the area.
Not far from the beach there is a lagoon with beautiful flamingoes.
TIP: Reaching this beach from Camaguey is a bit of a hassle. There is only one public bus per week, and there are private buses leaving from the airport. There’s supposed to be a train from Camaguey to Nuevitas, after which you’ll have to take a taxi, but when I visited trains were not an option. Given the circumstances, the best way to get there from Camaguey is by private transfer. You can book it here.
Playa Los Cocos
At the end of Playa Santa Lucia and near La Boca there is one of the best beaches in Cuba, Playa Los Cocos. This sugar-white sand beach has the clearest emerald waters you may hope for. At times, you may see the flamingos in the lagoon at the back of the beach.
This small island off the north coast of Camaguey province can be reached by car through a pedraplen, and has some of the best beaches in Cuba. It’s 25 km west from Santa Lucia, and is completely quiet and relaxing. The nicest beach in Cayo Sabinal is Playa los Pinos, with clear turquoise waters and beautiful sand.
Playa Blanca is one of the best beaches in Cuba. It’s long white and sandy and the turquoise waters make it a favorite of locals and travelers.
Playa los Bajos
Playa los Bajos is east of the lovely Gibara, and is one of the nicest Cuban beaches. It can be reached via a short boat ride that leaves from the Enramada, right out of Gibara, towards Playa Blanca – it’s another 3 km east to get to Playa los Bajos.
One of the nicest Cuban beaches, Playa Caletones is located 17 km west of Gibara. It’s a small beach with incredibly fine sand and waters you will want to swim in. There is no public transportation to get there, so you’ll have to hire a taxi or rent a bike.
Where to stay in Gibara
The best access point to Playa Caletones, Playa Blanca and Playa los Bajos is Gibara, which is a lovely small city to explore in and of itself. There are a few good casas particulares there. Here’s a selection that can be booked online:
Playa Pesquero is one of the loveliest Cuban beaches. There are four luxury resorts on the beach, so this is the kind of place you can go to to fully treat yourself and where you can expect to be served a fresh coconut water any time you feel thirsty. The beach itself is white and sandy, with clear blue waters.
The beaches of Guardalavaca are among the best beaches in Cuba and it’s no wonder this is one of the most popular tourist destination in the countries. It’s a nice stretch of white sand and blue waters, lined with trees and tamarinds. It’s a popular place among tourists and locals alike, and it has retained its character. You can rent snorkel equipment at the beach.
TIP: Guardalavaca can be reached by car from Holguin. You can book your transfer here.
Where to stay in Guardalavaca
There are some good hotels and resorts in Guardalavaca, and even a good selection of casas particulares. Here are the ones that can be booked online:
Playa de Morales
Remember the luxury resorts of Playa Pesquero? Well, Playa de Morales is nothing like it. Not far from Banes, it’s a nice beach where you can still relax. The biggest luxury you can have at night is that of freshly cooked fish.
Santiago de Cuba
Playa Siboney is located at 19 km from Santiago, it’s a favorite of the locals and one of the nicest Cuban beaches. The village itself is rather rustic, but the beach is pretty: sandy, with inviting waters and lined by palm trees. A few kiosks on the beach serve very cold fresh coconut – perfect on hot days.
Where to stay in Siboney
Most travelers visit Siboney on a day trip from Santiago, which has a good selection of accommodation options. These are some of the best casas in Santiago that can be booked online:
Playa Cazonal is one of the best beaches in Cuba in terms of what it offers. It’s quite popular with the locals, who go there knowing they will find shade under the trees, and warm waters where you’ll want to swim.
This is one of the best beaches in Cuba, popular with the locals and now getting more known also by tourists. Yet, you can still find some peace there. It’s a perfect tropical beach, incredibly well-kept with a long stretch of fine golden sand, transparent waters with an easy reached reef.
About 5 km west of Playa Maguana there is one of the most remote Cuban beaches. This is the kind of place you can go if you want the beach all to yourself!
TIP: Both beaches can be visited on the same day. You will need to hire a taxi to get there, as they are a bit of a way from the city. You can get to Baracoa by bus from Santiago, or else, you can go via a private transfer, that you can book here.
Where to stay in Baracoa
Baracoa, a lovely small city in Guantanamo, is the best access point to the beaches in the area. Here is a selection of good casas particulares that can be booked online:
The Best Beaches In Cuba Located In Cayos
Located on Cayo Guillermo, Playa Pilar easily qualifies as one of the best beaches in Cuba. It’s a long, white, sandy beach with clear waters, perfect for long walks, water sports (especially scuba diving) and hanging out, relaxing. There are some nice bars and restaurants on the beach.
TIP: If you opt to visit Cayo Guillermo, make sure to visit the flamingos colony!
Located on Cayo Largo (also referred to as Cayo Largo del Sur and part of the Canarreos archipelago), Playa Paraiso is one of the most beautiful beaches. The sand is incredibly fine, and the water clear and shallow. If you can spare the time and money to go all the way there, definitely make sure to go.
GOOD TO KNOW: Another great beach in Cayo Largo is Playa Sirena.
Playa Los Flamencos
Playa los Flamencos, in Cayo Coco, part of Jardines del Rey islands, is best known as Cayo Coco beach, taking its name from the coco (white ibis) birds that populate the island. It’s a white beach with sapphire waters perfect for snorkeling, that make it one of the best beaches in Cuba.
Playa Las Gaviotas
Located in Cayo Santa Maria this postcard-perfect beach is one of the sand beaches on the island that is not connected to a resort. It’s located inside a nature reserve which you can reach by car. You will have to pay a fee to park your car (that’s unless you have a local driver) and then walk along a short trail to get to the beach.