Sometimes you need to recover from all the “go here, go there, go everywhere” stress of vacation—and where better to take a breather than on a beach? Each of Cuba’s distinct regions boasts impressive stretches of magnificent sand where you can kick back with a beverage and find some simple peace of mind after enjoying the complexity of the country’s interior. We rounded up the most pristine, picturesque beaches so you can plan some fun in the sun for your time in Cuba.
For travelers who enjoy all-inclusive resorts and spring break scenes, Veradero’s got what you’re looking for. As the most popular resort town and beach in all of Cuba, Veradero’s 12-mile stretch of all-inclusives and coral reefs make for the perfect mix of tourist attractions and natural beauty. There are more than 60 hotels running along the Hicacos peninsula where Veradero is located making it tourist-friendly (albeit not the best bet for one-of-a-kind experiences).
Cayo Largo del Sur
A small island off the south coast of Cuba’s northwestern coast, Cayo Largo del Sur is best described as a pure Caribbean paradise. The jewel-tone water is nothing short of crystal clear and the powdery white sand makes the beaches glitter. A stay on Cayo Largo del Sur is a guarantee to experience not only the peace of the island’s large, uncrowded beaches but also the excitement of native wildlife such as nesting sea turtles and flamingos.
Playa Sirena is only a short ride away from Cuba’s most popular tourist hubs but it feels leagues away from the hustle and bustle of Havana. Day trips to the beach are offered daily from Veradero and Havana—allowing travelers to enjoy kayaks, sun-soaking, bouts of beach football, and tropical drinks from a ranchón-style bar and restaurant before you’ve even had a chance to dust the city off of your shoes.
If you like to inject your travels with adventure and adrenaline, Playa Girón is the beach for you. Situated on the east side of the notorious Bay of Pigs in the province of Matanzas, the beach has a sharp offshore dropoff that makes for the perfect snorkeling and scuba diving setting. The underwater caves are there just waiting to be explored.
Located five miles south of Cienfuegos, Rancho Luna is best described as a toned-down, low-key version of Veradero. It’s beautiful without boasting. Along with no-frills hotel complexes, guests can chose to go for the real Cuban experience and stay in the casa particulares that are available in the area.
Playa Perla Blanca
Nestled within a nature reserve, Playa Perla Blanca is a textbook example of Mother Nature’s pure beauty with its soft sand, lush flora, and refreshing breezes. As of now, there are no hotels or resorts tarnishing the environment, and the beach is relatively accessible despite being located in the northern cays.
Located only seven short miles away from the can’t-miss colonial town of Trinidad, Playa Ancón is tucked away on an impressive peninsula that fosters a sense of seclusion from the rest of the world. Playa Ancón is the definitive stretch of white sand, blooming acacia trees, quaint fisherman, and a tranquil atmosphere.
Playa Los Pinos
We’re giving away a hidden gem here, but this list would not be complete without including Playa los Pinos—located in Camagüey. It’s dreamily picturesque and almost unbelievably empty. But once making the trek to Playa los Pinos, you’ll realize why this beach isn’t in much danger of being spoiled by the masses. If you make it to the end of the impressively bumpy and unkempt dirt track, you’ll be gifted with the playa’s beauty, your own private beach, and the opportunity to explore the surrounding salt marshes where native deer and other wildlife roam.