Cuba is the home of music, cigars and old-fashioned cars. And some of the world’s best beaches are in Cuba. Unfortunately, the country’s tumultuous history has stopped it from opening up to tourists sooner. Visitors have been trickling in, though, for the past five to 10 years. Even within that time, the changes have been huge. Visiting Cuba is a magical and unique experience, and like no other country you have been to.
Although travelling around Cuba can be tricky to navigate, you will be rewarded with spectacular vistas, fascinating history and beaches that take your breath away. Most of the best beaches in Cuba are on the south coast, but you will find something spectacular no matter where in Cuba you are or whether you’re into surfing, wildlife, or just relaxing with a cocktail.
- 20 Best Beaches in Cuba
- Beaches in Cuba – North
- Beaches in Cuba – East
- Beaches in Cuba – South
- Beaches in Cuba – West
20 Best Beaches in Cuba
Beaches in Cuba – North
1- Playa del Este
If you’re planning a quick trip to Cuba and focusing on Havana, then Playa del Este is in the perfect spot near the capital.
The T2 tourist bus runs here daily from Parque Central, so it’s easy to fit in a day trip or spend the morning sightseeing before heading out for some sun and sand.
This is where Havana locals escape city life, so expect it to be busy with locals on weekends.
Varadero is probably Cuba’s most famous place outside of Havana, and this slim stretch of land on the north coast is home to two things: beaches and big resorts.
Varadero has one road running from south to north with a beach on both sides, so you will not be short of sand.
Spend a night in luxury in one of the many hotels here to catch your breath, as it is only a few hours from Havana.
You will find great restaurants, a market, and countless vendors for picking up some swimming or snorkelling gear on the main road.
Top tip: On the main road just round from the bus station is a cafe with 24-hour dining, with delicious breakfasts perfect for if you leave or arrive before the town wakes up.
3- Playa Coral (Varadero)
As you may have guessed, Playa Coral is where tourists flock for fantastic snorkelling and diving experiences and is home to over 300 types of fish.
You can snorkel straight off the beach or opt to go to the coral reserve, which is better if you’re short on time, as this includes access, gear and a guide for relatively cheap.
4- Playa Pilar
Upon the northernmost coast of Cuba, this beach is home to hundreds of bright pink flamingoes, which make for a great photo, much like Playa Los Cocos in the south.
If watersports are more your thing, the waters here are filled with tropical fish and more exotic species such as marlin if you want to go deep-sea fishing.
If you’re on a budget, get a day pass to one of the resorts that allow access to this beach and the ones nearby for a varied day of relaxation.
5- Playa Perla Blanca
This stunning beach lies in Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Maria Quay) in the wider archipelago of Jardines del Rey.
With a name like ‘White Pearl Beach,’ it is no surprise you’ll find soft sands and crystal waters here.
The area encompasses two ‘cays’ as well as having a dolphinarium, so this is the spot to visit if you love wildlife.
Some of the best activities also include diving or sailing around the archipelago.
Although far away, it is more than worthwhile, and there are many great places to eat, drink and stay in the area.
For more beaches around the world read:
Beaches in Cuba – East
6- Playa Maguana
Located in the east of Cuba, around half an hour north of Baracoa, this beach is a stunning crescent of soft white sand and shallow blue ocean.
This is a great place to spot tropical fish swimming around, go snorkelling or diving and grab a cocktail on the beach.
There are plenty of restaurants and cottages scattered nearby if you decide to stay, so you can easily make this an overnight trip.
7- Playa Guardalavaca
Not far from Holguin in the northeast of the country, Playa Guardalavaca is the place to be if you like to party.
A far cry from the strip of resorts in Varadero, all you’ll find here is some lively local bars and restaurants.
Described by Columbus as the most beautiful beach he had ever seen, this stretch of white sand is backed by palm trees and surf shacks, selling drinks and gear for going diving.
After enjoying the water head to one of the bars, which will be packed with locals, and party into the night to experience authentic Cuba.
8- Playa Cajuajo
You can cycle from Baracoa to Playa Cajuajo if you’re feeling active or it’s a short taxi ride.
This is an ideal beach as it is unspoilt and has very few eateries, so being close to town means it can be a half-day trip.
Almost as untouched as Guardalavaca, this beach has cycle paths for visitors and very little else.
Here, you’ll be free to sunbathe and swim to your heart’s content.
In July and August, the beach is often popular with local families but remains quiet for the rest of the year.
Occasionally they stop by with cooked food and drinks, which you can buy if you need a snack.
Beaches in Cuba – South
9- Punta Perdiz
If you’re mad about snorkelling, this is the beach for you.
Punta Perdiz is not only a mecca for spotting marine life but remains extremely cheap all round.
This is one of a few beaches in the area that offers a deal when you arrive – 15CUC for entrance, a sunbed, a lunch buffet and all you can drink at the bar.
You can rent diving and snorkelling gear for around 25CUC.
If you want to sit back with a good book and admire the view instead, a sunbed is only 1CUC.
Its location near the Bay of Pigs means there are lots of ancient artifacts and wrecks in the waters.
There are beautiful beaches everywhere in Cuba.
Caleton, in the south, provides a perfect place to stay on your way across the country.
One of a few beaches in the Bay of Pigs area (Bahia de Cochinos), here you can combine history with relaxation.
Spend half a day learning about the Cold War before heading here to have a massage, order some fresh seafood and snorkel out to the 300m wall of coral that lies just offshore.
11- Pioneer’s Camp Beach
Just 20 minutes from Caleton by bicycle, this beach is still largely a secret from tourists and has wonderfully relaxing views of the sea and palm trees.
Grab a cocktail from one of the many local bars and settle in for the day or a few hours.
The beaches in this area are all interlinked, so you can always go beach-hopping.
Being in the middle of the south coast, this is the ideal place to spend time as journeying from west to east Cuba can be exhausting and time-consuming.
You’ll find Viazul buses that go here from Havana and other significant places in the country.
12- Playa Giron
Also, in the Bahia de Cochinos area, Playa Giron is one for history buffs due to its significance as the landing site of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Here you can find a small museum dedicated to the area’s history.
It features many rocky outcrops, a stunning beach and excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities, which you might enjoy after learning about its treacherous past.
Not only this, but the beach borders a mangrove jungle called Ciénaga de Zapata, where you can join a safari-style boat trip, and the nearby town is full of fun spots to try the local cuisine.
13- Playa Los Cocos
This is possibly the most challenging beach to get to on the island and is virtually untouched by tourists with little infrastructure, but if you want to get off the beaten track and discover a hidden gem, this is the beach for you.
Around two hours from Santa Lucia, Playa Los Cocos, meaning Coconut Beach, is also known as Flamingo Beach, which gives you a clue as to what you will find.
After spending a day enjoying the emptiness and tranquillity of this beach, the lagoons nearby are home to many flamingoes, which you can spot on your way to the only restaurant in the area.
14- Playa Rancho Luna
18km to the south of Cienfuegos, Rancho Luna is a small and picturesque beach easily accessible by bus or taxi.
There are over thirty diving spots in the area, and it is close to a couple of resorts, as well as more local, private guesthouses, so you’re sure to find somewhere to stay.
If you have the experience and are happy to be independent, you can also rent scooters to get here from Cienfuegos.
15- Playa de Reina
In the far east of Cuba, north of Baracoa lies this small but friendly beach which only features two lively and colourful cafes where you can grab food and drinks.
Due to its remote location, even many locals don’t make the journey to La Reina, so it will be peaceful and empty no matter when you go.
Grab a mojito and a snack and sit on the sand, where you’ll be sure to attract interest from the curious local piglets that wander the beach.
16- Playa Paraiso
A place called ‘paradise beach’ is always going to meet your idea of a beautiful picturesque location.
This beach was voted the third most beautiful on earth in 2016, so if you only pick one in Cuba, make sure it’s this one!
Playa Paraiso is connected to a few other beaches which feature more in the way of food and hotels, but this beach is a silent, unspoilt and stunning place to spend the day.
17- Cayo Largo del Sur
Commonly known as just Cayo Largo, this Cuban beach is on a tiny island off Cuba’s southern coast.
Tricky to reach but entirely untouched, this beach has a wealth of activities on offer.
Sailing, catamaran, dolphin spotting, diving and snorkelling are all available, among many others.
Of course, you can do as the Cubans do and sit on the sand with a Piña Colada.
Some beaches around here are more laid back than the rest of the country, especially if you fancy visiting a naturist beach or LGBT+ bars.
18- Playa Ancon
The best beach in the south, just a short drive from the historical town of Trinidad, Playa Ancon is a verified paradise.
Although a few big resorts line the beach, it is best to stay in Trinidad and take a day trip here so you can go snorkelling out to the reef, take a glass-bottomed boat or do some deep-sea fishing.
You can usually grab some sunbeds under a beach umbrella for 5CUC.
Top tip: there is one bus from Trinidad to the beach twice per day and vice versa. Make sure to check the return timetable because it is easy to miss the last bus accidentally.
Beaches in Cuba – West
19- Cayo Jutias
One of the less remote beaches on this list, Cayo Jutias, is about an hour and a half from the luscious jungle area of Viñales.
It provides the classic postcard beach image, with smooth sand and crystal waters home to hundreds of starfish if you visit at the right time of year.
Due to its remoteness, it is classified as an island, and the entire northwest quay is a beautiful place to take an excursion for the day.
20- Cayo Levisa
Close to nearby Pinar del Rio province, Cayo Levisa is frequently voted one of the best in Cuba.
Aside from the usual beautiful coral reefs, swaying palm trees and soft sand, it is also an excellent place for seeing tropical birds, including pelicans which wander around.
Also on offer are kayaks and water bikes to rent so you can explore further out and get up close to the sprawling reefs in the area.