Cuba, it’s one of the most sought-after destinations namely for its famous tropical beaches, which serve up powder-white sands, translucent turquoise waters, and lazy swaying palms – in other words, total paradise. If you love nothing more than to sink your toes into butter-soft sands (er, who doesn’t?!) then you’re in luck, as we’ve rounded up a bucket list of our all-time favourite beaches to sunbathe, snorkel, and sip cocktails on during your holidays in Cuba! Whether you want to soak up the sunshine on a big-time beach just steps from your all-inclusive hotel or seek out the hidden stretches of sand for an afternoon of serenity, you’ll find the perfect spot to throw your towel down, below.
As far as big-hitting beaches go, Varadero is Cuba’s most popular. This headline stretch serves up no less than 20km of cotton white sands that gently shelve into a shallow strip of the turquoise Atlantic – giving the stretch it’s nickname ‘Blue Beach’. This lively beach is consistently voted one of the best in the world and is classed as the ‘backyard’ to a handful of luxury hotels in Varadero, making it a popular place for family fun with a selection of virgin cays, water sports, and even diving lessons at the Barracuda International Diving Centre!
Nestled on the northern shores of Cuba between Varadero and Havana is Playa Jibacoa. Thanks to its scenic countryside location, the beach is backed by lush green hills which is idyllic for nature lovers, offering a rural corner of Cuba you may not discover at the more touristy stretches. Diving and snorkelling are popular here too, so you can pull on your flippers and explore the coral reefs not far from the shore!
There’s a medley of tropical charms that await at unspoilt islands of Cayo Santa Maria.
These three idyllic isles (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Las Brujas and Cayo Ensenachos), which form part of the Jardines Del Rey archipelago, offer a selection of beautiful sandy beaches, azure waters and plenty of diving that won’t disappoint. A Catamaran cruise is one of the best ways to discover the islands, before unwinding at a nearby boutique beachfront hotel – ah, bliss.
An island north of mainland Cuba, Cayo Coco boasts over 22km of beautiful beaches – we’re talking coral white sands, swaying palms and tropical mangroves. You won’t be short of options either since there’s a whole host of sands to sink your toes into while you’re here. Some of the best stretches include Playa Prohibida, Playa Las Conchas, Playa Flamenco and Playa las Coloradas – so you can visit a different beach every day!
You’ll be in for a treat if you drop anchor at the exclusive shores of Playa Pilar in Cayo Guillermo, close to Cayo Coco and one of the keys of the Cuban province Ciego de Avila. Crowned as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, this small 1km stretch certainly has a lot to shout about, complete with a restaurant, beach bar serving tropical cocktails (we recommend the Saoco!), sun loungers and a water sports centre for those eager to make a splash. A fantastic stretch for couples and lively families alike.
Playa Ancon offers one of the finest arcs of sand on Cuba’s south coast and its appealing location is ideal if you’re seeking an afternoon of R&R after spending time soaking up the hustle and bustle of neighbouring city, Trinidad. This gorgeous stretch is dotted with palm-inspired parasols perfect for escaping the midday heat, while it’s backed by three all-inclusive hotels and a spectacular marina. Spend a lazy day on the sand before unwinding at one of the luxurious waterfront restaurants and bars, or why not take out a sunset catamaran cruise?
If you consider yourself a nature lover, a visit to Playa Larga should be at the top of your itinerary. In addition to your standard Caribbean beach checklist of white sands, azure waters and palm trees, this stretch boasts an exotic vegetal cloak that drapes the surrounding area – also known as the Cienaga de Zapata National Park. That’s right, you can step off this pretty beach into an ecosystem of wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs eager for exploration. Have your binoculars at the ready, as you’re likely to discover a vast array of tropical birds, fish and other beautiful wildlife creatures.
Guardalavaca beach is another firm favourite on our list for its charm. Situated in Holguin, this 3km banner of sand is set amid steep rugged cliffs and faces the twinkling Atlantic Ocean. If you’re a snorkelling enthusiast, it’s a fantastic diving location thanks to its coral reefs that stretch 300m into the sea – meaning it’s a microclimate for colourful marine life. With a handful of majestic sea caves to discover too, this area is nicknamed “Cuba’s Archeological Capital” – and it’s easy to see why.
Also situated in Holguin is Playa Esmeralda beach, a hidden jewel protected by cliffs, verdant hills, and plenty of wildlife. If you’re seeking a little serenity, this calming space will be an oasis for its soft sands and vibrant turquoise waters – which are usually dotted with eager snorkellers or windsurfers! It has great swimming, popular boat excursions and scenic clifftop walks to enjoy, plus it’s shared with three other beautiful resorts.
Offering slice of paradise within the city of Rafael Freyre in Holguin, Playa Pesquero is a popular pastime for families seeking a relaxing day in the sun. There’s a host of entertainment to be had on these idyllic golden sands, whether you want to dive and snorkel amid the protected coral reefs or explore the vegetation that surrounds the beach. Better still, there’s a 5-star hotel situation right on the beachfront with a variety of restaurants and bars to unwind in, too.
Want to tick off one of the longest beaches in Cuba? Measuring in at 20km is Camaguey’s beautiful stretch named Santa Lucia – and it’s a must if you consider yourself a water baby. The transparent waters here are protected by the biggest coral reef in the Atlantic (only second to the Australian one) and you can reach it less than 200m from the shore. Grab your goggles because there’s approximately 500 tropical fish species to discover under the water’s twinkling surface – or if you’re brave enough to venture even deeper, you’ll also find 27 sunken ships! It’s a magical experience, and of course you have the historic town of Camaguey to discover as well!
If you like the best of both worlds, Maguana Beach is located just 20km north of the city Baracoa, offering tourists a haven amid the hustle and bustle. It’s easy to switch off and recharge on this powder-white stretch, since it’s fringed by palm trees and inviting turquoise waters perfect for swimming in. In fact, it’s a local favourite – and if the natives choose to spend their free time there, we want to, too!
Located in Cayo Largo del Sur is one of the most beautiful beaches you’ll set eyes on. Playa Paraiso (which aptly translates as Paradise Beach) provides sun-seekers with an intimate escape where they can truly unwind. When you’re not paddling in the warm water, stretch your legs with a scenic walk, or indulge in one of the nearby restaurants. There’s also a handful of quality accommodation options nearby, too – making it a brilliant option for families seeking a beach holiday in Cuba.
Cayo Jutias is a pocket-sized island and one of the main keys within the Los Colorados archipelago, located in the Pinar del Rio province. You’ve guessed it – it’s a tropical haven. Since these hidden gems are somewhat untouched by tourists, you’ll discover some of the most peaceful beaches in Cuba here – not to mention fascinating starfish! The natural beauty is off the scale too, with lush mangroves that stretch the length of the coast offing a taste of authentic Cuba. Stay to experience the sun setting over the island, blanketing the sand and the waters in a beautiful quilt of pink, while you are there why not visit Vinales and take in the beautiful Vinales valley as well.