ViaHero · April 19, 2019
Sun and sand calling your name? Consider traveling to Cuba for your next beach vacation.
Yes, Cuba! It’s easy for Americans to travel to Cuba and the island’s beaches make it totally worth it. Whether you’re looking for warm sands and crystal-clear blue waters, amazing snorkeling and diving, the best beach cocktails, fantastic bird watching, or just a place to relax with your kids, Cuba’s beaches are an excellent option. Keep reading to learn all about our 7 favorite Cuba beaches (plus some helpful beach safety tips). Any questions after? Contact us.
Want to explore Cuba differently? Have a local
#1: Playa Paraiso
It’s no surprise that the name of this beach literally translates to “beach paradise.” It’s quiet, and looks exactly like what you expect when you hear the words “Caribbean beach.” Located on the tiny island of Cayo Largo off Cuba’s southern shore, this beach’s vibe is laid back—even the water is calm with just light waves. Fresh squeezed juice and beers are available at beachside snack bars, and sometimes local musicians play at the beach.
Pro tip: Cayo Largo is only accessible via charter from Havana (and you can only reserve charters in Havana), so make sure to have a local Cuban trip planner set up your trip down before you arrive.
#2: Varadero Beach
Just three hours from Havana, Varadero Beach is a great option for travelers who are on a short trip to Cuba. It’s easy to include a stop while touring Havana, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Cuba’s longest beach, Varadero is twelve miles of pure white sand. It’s also a great spot for scuba diving, with sea caves and coral reefs within easy reach.
Tip for Americans: While many international travelers stay in all-inclusive resorts, American travelers should stay in nearby casas particulares. This way, they can split beach time with activities that qualify as Support for the Cuban People. It’s easy to get a Cuban Tourist Card—the trick is navigating the US government’s categories of permitted travel to Cuba.
#3: Playa Pilar
Whether or not you’re a fan of Hemingway’s writing, we bet you’ll love his favorite hideaway, named for his yacht, Pilar. The crystal clear blue waters and long stretches of white sand lined with coconut trees scream perfect Caribbean vacation. The best part? The area is home to a colony of 12,000 flamingos. Have your trip planner set you up with a local guide to show you around the area. It’s located just north of Cuba proper on Cayo Guillermo.
Pro tip: Remember: while it’s easy to get a Cuba Visa (aka Cuban Tourist Card), the US government does have restrictions on travel to Cuba—so you can’t spend your whole trip at the beach. You need to qualify for one of the 12 categories of permitted travel, so make sure to create an itinerary that fits your category.
#4: Playa Coral
Some of Cuba’s best snorkeling is at Playa Coral, situated about half-way between Varadero and Matanzas (about 2 hours away from Havana). It’s a great place to go snorkeling and learn about the numerous species of fish and other marine life in Cuba. Plus, a beach day spent learning with a local guide can count as a Support for the Cuban People activity!
#5: Playa Siboney
Santiago locals love Playa Siboney, as it’s an easy day trip from Santiago. The beach has a rustic feel with views of mountains and many trees lining the beach. Kiosks pop up every day with vendors selling cold, fresh coconut to beachgoers. If you need a day off from your Cuba excursions, Playa Siboney is a great place to lay in the sun between dips in the ocean.
#6: Playa Cajuajo
You’ll discover the ideal combination of adventure and luxury at Playa Cajuajo. Rent a bicycle and pedal the 20 km from Baracoa to enjoy this hidden gem. And since Baracoa is Cuba’s foodie paradise, there are tons of great places to eat at Playa Cajuajo! Indulge in fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and more options from local restaurants to fuel your bike ride back to Baracoa. The best part: eating at local restaurants qualifies as a Support for the Cuban People activity!
#7: Marea del Portillo
Located at the base of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, this beach is a little different from the others we’ve listed. The beach is lined with palm trees, but the sand is a handsome dark color. Swimming is a popular activity, but so is hiking to nearby waterfalls. If you crave variety on a beach vacation, Marea del Portillo is the spot to choose. For some offline hiking maps or connections to hiking guides, make sure to get some help from a Cuban travel expert.
Beach safety tips
A day at the beach is tons of fun, but keep these Cuba safety tips while enjoying the beaches:
- Only bring as much cash (Cuban currency or American) as you think you’ll need that day. This way, if someone rummages through your belongings while you’re swimming, you only lose one day’s worth of cash.
- Leave your passport and tourist card in your casa particular. Make copies before you leave home so you can bring them to places like the beach.
- Don’t approach animals you might see in the water.
- Know who to contact in case of injury or another emergency.
- Bring plenty of sunscreen from home—don’t rely on being able to get your favorite brand in Cuba. Apply sunscreen before you go to the beach and throughout your day.
- Drink plenty of water. That Cuban sun gets hot! Drink extra water if you’re also having alcoholic drinks like a refreshing mojito.
- Connect With a Local to Plan Your Trip
- Are Americans Allowed to Travel to Cuba?
- Cuba Tourist Card + Visa: Everything You Need to Know
- Taking a Cruise to Cuba? Read This First.
- The Easiest Way to Get a Cuban Visa
- Contact Us