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 Cuba, however, and I will admit that the majority of Cuban beaches are simply gorgeous, even to a beach expert like me.
This post includes a selection of the best beaches in Cuba. I will divide them by region, and add a few tips to make the most of them.
For a more general guide about Cuba, check out my post “The Most Fantastic Things To In Do Cuba: The Ultimate Guide.”
31 Incredibly Beautiful Cuban Beaches
Playas del Este
At only 18 km from Havana, Playas del Este 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.
The Cuban beaches of Playas del Este 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
Going to Playas del Este is a common day trip from Havana. Playas del Este 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 look 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 coral 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’s 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 to Cayo Jutias 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. Here you can book your private transfer from Viñales to Cayo Jutias. And if you want, you can opt to go there on a classic car. Book it here.
Where to stay in Cayo Jutias
Most people visit Cayo Jutias on a day trip from Vinales where there is a good selection of places to stay. 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 – as opposed to Cayo Jutias – 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 sandy beach and fantastically clear 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 palm trees. This is a favorite of divers, thanks to the beautiful coral reef: coral formations and incredible marine life can be seen at a mere 14 meters under the surface! You won’t find any of the resorts of Varadero here, but one of the most isolated hotels in Cuba.
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 that are perfect for diving and snorkeling.
Contrary to most Cuban beaches, Bahia de Cochinos doesn’t have 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: Bahia de Cochinos can be visited 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 and during which you can also stop in some of the beaches mentioned below.
Playa Larga isn’t often mentioned among the most famous Cuban beaches, but it’s worth stopping by during a tour of the Bahia de Cochinos. 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 clear waters.
Where to stay in Playa Larga
There are some casas particulares in Playa Larga that can be booked online:
On the eastern side of the Bahia de Cochinos, Playa Giron 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, with clear waters, and has easy access to the gorgeous coral reef.
Where to stay in Playa Giron
There are a few good casas particulares near Playa Giron. 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 snorkeling as it is well protected from the currents. As opposed to most Cuban 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 Bahia de Cochinos, this is a nice sandy beach (as opposed to the majority in the area which are rocky) with beautiful, clear waters, making it one of the best in the region, and one of the best beaches in Cuba.
There’s no denying that one of the best beaches in Cuba is that of Varadero. Located at a mere 2 hours drive from Havana, this 25 km long, white sandy 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 coral reef and lots of sea caves.
What makes Varadero one of the nicest Cuban beaches 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, fishing, snorkeling.
TIP: If you want to experience Varadero minus the international crowds, or hope to see more locals, go in July and August. Varadero can be reached from Havana by car. You can book your transfer here.
Where to stay in Varadero
Most people that go to Varadero 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 to snorkeling and 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 coral 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 Cuban 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 Cuban beaches near Cienfuegos and very close to Rancho Luna. It’s a nice, quiet sandy beach with clear, calm waters.
One of the best beaches in Cuba is Playa Ancon, which is at just 12 km from the lovely Trinidad. The beach is nice, long and sandy, with clear 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 to Playa Ancon. You can book it here.
TIP: Bring come insect repellent. Sandflies are everywhere in Playa Ancon 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, one of the nicest Cuban beaches, is small, but the waters incredibly clear and perfect for snorkeling and diving.
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 in the snorkeling spots and you will miss out.
Looking for more information on Trinidad? Read my post “Trinidad, Cuba: The Most Complete Guide.”
Playa Santa Lucia
One of the nicest Cuban beaches is Playa Santa Lucia, at around 112 km from Camaguey. It’s a beautiful, white sandy 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 Playa Santa Lucia 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 to Playa Santa Lucia 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 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 clear waters. 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 that are perfect for snorkeling.
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 clear waters, lined with palm 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 sandy 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 to Santiago what Playas del Este is to Havana: at 19 km from the city, 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 clear 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. Its quite popular with the locals, who go there knowing they will find share under the trees, and a sandy beach with clear warm waters.
Playa Maguana 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 with a long stretch of fine golden sand, incredibly clear waters with an easy reach coral reed, lined by palm trees.
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: Playa Maguana and Playa Nava 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 of Playa Maguana and Playa Nava. 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 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 del Sur, Playa Paraiso is one of the loveliest Cuban beaches. The sand is incredibly fine, and the water clear and shallow.
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 sandy beach with sapphire waters perfect for snorkeling, that make it one of the best beaches in Cuba.
Have you ever been to Cuba? What are your favorite Cuban beaches?