When we talk about Cuba, images of paradisiacal beaches with crystal-clear waters come to mind. These beaches offer a perfect setting where you can combine relaxation, unwinding, and experiencing pleasure with other entertaining activities.
Cuba, an island with over 1000 km of coastline, stands out in the Caribbean for its more than 4000 cays and islets surrounded by unique beaches with diverse shades of sand. These range from dazzling white in Varadero to gleaming gold in Guardalavaca, Holguín, and even distinctive black sand on the remote Playa Duaba near Baracoa.
Impressive cliffs and limestone formations frame the beaches along the elevated parts of Cuba’s coastline, like Playa Siboney near Santiago de Cuba. Lush mangroves border the lower beaches, such as Cayo Levisa in Pinar del Río.
The country offers sun lovers more than 300 pristine natural beaches stretching along 588 kilometers of coastline. Swimming and snorkeling in its calm and crystalline waters are activities that can be enjoyed year-round thanks to the pleasant subtropical climate.
Because the range of beaches is vast and varied, and the few days typically spent on the island aren’t enough to explore everything one would like, here we present a selection of the best Cuban beaches.
Varadero Beach is the most famous in the country, with 20 kilometers of white sand merging with tranquil turquoise waters. It stretches along the narrow Hicacos Peninsula in Matanzas province and is characterized by a wide expanse of fine white sand gently sloping into a sea displaying a beautiful range of blues in warm and transparent waters.
It’s one of the most chosen beaches by many, considered one of the best beaches in Cuba, rivaling the other paradisiacal Caribbean beaches.
Varadero is Cuba’s premier tourist destination, a privileged enclave with beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters that allow easy viewing of corals, fish, and turtles, making it a marvelous visual treat. There’s a diverse range of resorts for enjoying the sea and engaging in various activities.
Moreover, Varadero offers an enormous array of entertainment and leisure possibilities, where you can discover caves, pristine cays, and transparent waters. Nudism is not common in Varadero, but topless sunbathing is frequent on the beaches and cays.
PLAYA EL PILAR
Named after Hemingway’s yacht of the same name, who was captivated by the impressive 16-meter-high dunes with palm trees. Playa Pilar is located on the upper part of Cayo Guillermo, in the Jardines del Rey archipelago, Ciego de Ávila province.
Cayo Guillermo is an uninhabited island, a protected area with exceptional flora and fauna, covered in palm groves and mangroves. Here, the water is so clear that it resembles a gigantic aquarium, and silence reigns everywhere.
Pilar is considered one of the best beaches in Cuba, both for its quality and wide stretch of sand, and for its clear and warm waters of pleasant temperatures, great visibility, and colorful and diverse marine life.
Some argue that Playa Pilar on Cayo Guillermo approaches perfection.
PLAYA CAYO SABINAL
An impressive coral reef surrounded by a 100% natural environment. Visiting this beach on Cuba’s northeast coast is a must. The name Cayo Sabinal comes from “sabina,” a precious wood tree that abounds in the area.
A highly recommended place for those seeking a remote place away from noise, with stunning nature.
It boasts stunning beaches protected by stunning coral reefs and very few facilities. It belongs to the Jardines del Rey archipelago and is connected to Cuba by a sea route from Nuevitas, a city in the Camagüey province. Notable among the outstanding beaches are Los Pinos, with 26 km of white sands, as well as Playa Brava and Playa Bonita.
With its rich flora and fauna, Cayo Sabinal is a paradise for ecotourists. Trees like llanas, atejes, sabina, oaks, and cedars abound. Its diving center is quite popular due to the many sunken ships in the sea: Pizarro, Mortera, and Nuestra Señora de Alta Gracia. Furthermore, to the north lies the coral barrier protecting Cuba, considered the largest in the Western Hemisphere.
Undoubtedly, its imposing beauty will leave anyone who beholds it astonished. Its flamingos, stories of corsairs and pirates, and virgin beaches with crystal-clear waters will contribute to making us feel like never before, with the certainty of enjoying one of the best places in the stunning Caribbean.
Guardalavaca Beach, rated among the most emblematic in eastern Cuba, was noted in the logbook of Genoese navigator Christopher Columbus, who considered it one of the most significant discoveries made during his expedition to the largest of the Antilles. “Never before saw such a beautiful thing” was the phrase Columbus uttered upon landing in the region, and there’s no better phrase to describe the impression Guardalavaca leaves us with.
Guardalavaca is home to Cuba’s primary aboriginal settlements; its turquoise-blue beaches captivate us with the gentle movement of its waters. In Guardalavaca, nature, culture, history, relaxation, beach, and fun blend under a single name. Traditions and legends attribute its name to the activities of pirates in the Caribbean region, as it was mentioned as the preferred spot for buccaneers to hide their loot.
For nature enthusiasts, the sunset in Guardalavaca presents a unique formula, contrasting the gradual dominance of the green vegetation over the blue sea in the small strip of beach, protected like a silent sentinel by a coral barrier that also brings tranquility to its waters. A few steps from the sea, the dominance of lush green vegetation begins, where the Cuban countryside asserts its charm, offering tourists an exclusive spectacle that blends the blue of the sea with the traditional.
Not far from Guardalavaca is the renowned Playa Esmeralda, north of Holguín, a true ecological paradise in eastern Cuba. It’s located in the Bahía de Naranjo Natural Park, surrounded by beautiful gardens and an area of great natural and ecological attraction. Typical of this area of Cuba, it’s especially recommended for families with children.
Baracoa, the first town founded by the Spanish upon their arrival in Cuba, harbors natural beauties that are still preserved. Alongside its beautiful coconut palms, its exotic black sand beaches stand out, framed by a majestic chain of mountains.
Playa Duaba, with its striking black sand, makes a stop at this beach well worth it. Playa Maguana, protected by a coral reef, allows you to sink your feet into brilliant white-golden sand. El Manglito stands out with a mixture of sand in shades of black, gold, and white. The latter has an extensive sandbank, and the water is warm due to its shallow depth.
These beaches in the Guantánamo province don’t stand out as much for their fine sand or crystal-clear water as they do for the surrounding environment. Approaching them and savoring the characteristic flavor of the country is always worthwhile. As a guarantee of the excellence of these places, it suffices to say that they are the summer destinations of Cubans themselves.
Sunsets in Baracoa, with their incredible landscapes, transform the setting sun over the sea into a silent and magical explosion of colors.
When traveling to Cuba, be prepared with your swimsuit, sunshade, and sunscreen to make the most of these beaches with pristine waters and unforgettable landscapes, available on an average of 330 envy-inducing sunny days per year.