Beach guide: Best beaches in Cuba

Beach guide: Best beaches in Cuba

Cuba is a popular all-inclusive vacation destination for its stunning, white sand beaches, and its affordable price point. And with 300 beaches across the 600-kilometer island, it’s not hard to see why it’s so well known for its stunning white sand, crystal clear waters, and swaying palm trees. Some of the best beaches in Cuba are tucked away as local favourites, but we have a list of the best for their beautiful white sand and biologically diverse waters. 

You don’t have to look hard to find an idyllic scene here. The cayos, just off the mainland island, Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria, are known for their beaches, while Varadero is home to Cuba’s longest beach and one of the best and most well known in the Caribbean. The best beaches in Cuba are a mix of the popular gems and hidden stretches lining the shores of this tropical island. There’s nothing wrong with beach hopping to try them all and get the most postcard perfect photos. From the large stretches along the resort areas to the hidden gems the locals might reveal to you, the best beaches in Cuba are seemingly everywhere.

The best beaches in Cuba: Varadero region

The beaches in Varadero are unprecedented, and known as some of the best in the Caribbean. Calm water that’s clear, turquoise and shallow is swimmable, except towards the peninsula or newer resort section where waters can be tough, are lined with powdery soft sand. The best beaches in Varadero are:

Varadero Beach

Bright blue water lined with white sand and colourful boats best beaches in Cuba Varadero Beach

Varadero Beach is unquestionably one of the best beaches in Cuba, fitting the perfect description of all that a Cuba beach should be: white sand stretching out into turquoise blue waters dotted with all-inclusive Cuba resorts. This 25-km stretch is Cuba’s longest beach, but the area is also very well developed along the resort strip, meaning you can enjoy water sports, snorkeling, scuba diving in Cuba, and other activities without leaving your all-inclusive vacation hotspot.

Beaches in Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria

The Cayo section of Cuba is known for its beaches: Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria are attached to mainland Cuba by a causeway, meaning there’s little else in the area for attractions or things to do except rest, relax, and enjoy the beach. The sand is bleached white and powdery, and the water is warm and a beautiful turquoise colour. There’s 13 kilometers of beach in this area, divided into 5 sections.

Beaches are the most important natural resource in this area of Cuba, known as the Jardines del Rey, and are home to unique bird species, singular natural formations, and intimate warm waters. All the beaches in the area are available for bathing by nearby hotels.

Playa Pilar

This small beach in Cayo Guillermo, neighbouring the famous Cayo Coco, is another popular one in Cuba travel guides, and for good reason. The Cayo Guillermo area is known for its near-deserted beaches, but Playa Pilar tops the list for must-visits. The beach is named after Ernest Hemingway’s yacht, Pilar, and was the author’s favourite hideaway in Cuba. The beach here is quiet, calm, and serene, making it the perfect spot for untouched beach photos or a quiet spot to soak up the sun.

Palm lined beach with shallow water Best Beaches in Cuba Cayo Guillermo

Beach in Cayo Guillermo

Playa Perla Blanca

At the end of the northern cays of Cuba, find Playa Perla Blanca in Cayo Santa Maria. This beach is one of the best in Cuba for its untouched feel. You won’t find any facilities here, meaning its beauty, fine sand, and remote location match perfectly for a true vacation.

The best beaches in Cuba: Cayo Largo

The Cayo Largo Cuba area is known for its gorgeous beaches, and cheaper all-inclusive vacation options. The beaches can, however, become washed out due to weather damage at the hotels and resorts, making some beaches here a hit or miss depending on time of year.

Playa Sirena

Palm trees on white sand beach stretching out to clear waters Playa Sirena

Find 2 kilometers of white sand beaches at Playa Sirena, on the western tip of the cay, where offshore coral reefs protect the area from rough waves and wind. This beach has a reputation as one of the best in the area, if not the whole island. With no permanent population in Cayo Largo, the area is known for its vacationers who visit to bring the area to life and enjoy the sandy shores.

Best beaches in Holguin, Cuba:

The Holguin coast is home to orographic formations, giving the area’s beaches a distinct look and feel from the rest of Cuba. Beaches in Holguin are popular for fishing, diving, and other sports.

Playa Turquesa

The name says it all: this beach, which translates to turquoise beach, is stunning blue waters bordered by golden sand and a mangrove forest at its eastern edges. The beach here is a shallow bay with a small coral reef not far offshore. The forest line is between the Memories Holguin Beach Resort and the beach itself, making it a perfect tucked away escape.

Playa Guardalava

Caves in distance on flat, calm beach of golden sand and calm blue water

Outside Holguin, the Guardalavaca area is popular for its line of gorgeous beaches sweeping the shores. Playa Guardalava is a 15,000 metre stretch of white sand that is popular with both tourists and local Cubans. The beach is known for its picture perfect strip of palms that dot the middle of the beach strip to provide a cool walkway. The area is also known for snorkelling.

The best beaches in southern Cuba:

Playa Ancon

Wavy beach with water reaching golden sand and palm trees in distance. Best beaches in Cuba Playa Ancon

There’s no question why this beach is called one of the best on Cuba’s south coast. It’s not only the longest in the area but the white sand arcs around the turquoise, shimmering waters. The beach here is dotted with trees and shrubs that move down to the shoreline, making it a very natural location. Ancon’s sea bottom keeps gorgonians, sea fans, black coral and small tropical fish, but the water is calm which makes it such a popular spot. Trinidad isn’t far away, and the area is known for snorkelling and scuba diving in the reefs that surround the area.

The best beaches in western Cuba:

Maria la Gorda Beach

Bright white sand and rocks along beach

Maria la Gorda Beach is one of the most beautiful natural sites in the area, or on the island, as some would argue. With a seabed offering the largest population of black coral in the Cuban archipelago, and great biodiversity within its reefs, its one of the most biologically rich regions in Cuba. The white sand beach and stunning clear waters add to the allure here.

Cayo Jutias

At almost 7 kilometer long and 700 metres wide, Cayo Jutias is a popular beach in the Pinar del Rio area for its inclusion of mangrove areas. To access the beach, you’ll travel along a dense coastal vegetation area for 12 kilometres to the cay, making it a shelter for biodiversity. The southern coast of the area has shallow waters perfect water sports, and a restaurant, as well as scuba diving area.

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