After roughly six decades of travel and trade restrictions, Cuba — despite being 90 miles from Key West — is a country shrouded in the romantic mystery of a far-off paradise. If you’re an avid nudist, or just planning your first foray into a clothing-optional getaway, here’s the scoop: Cuba is not known for doing things au naturel; it’s not a lawless island of people just roaming about in the buff. That being said, thanks in no small part to the government’s efforts to separate foreign and local communities (sometimes referred to as “tourism apartheid”), nudist destinations have begun to take hold. Essentially, you can take your clothes off, but only in areas where you won’t scare the locals. For all the naturists, beach lovers, and clothing-optional beach-lovers, here is a definitive list of Cuba’s most well-established places to strip down.
The most popular nudist destination in Cuba is Cayo Largo, a beautiful island south of the mainland with over 15 miles of immaculate coastline. A 45-minute flight southwest of Havana, Cayo Largo is known for its nudist-friendly beaches and a wide range of available activities. If you’re looking to bask in the buff, your best bet is to stay at one of the many hotels with clothing-optional sections of sand. Hotel Playa Blanca, Hotel Sol Cayo Largo, and Hotel Sol Pelicano all have portions of their beaches designated for cheeky travelers. If you’re looking to not feel segregated, Villa Iguana is a newer adult-friendly hotel where guests are free to nakedly roam about the entire resort in peace. Nudism aside, Cayo Largo is an excellent spot to enjoy what Cuba has to offer. Rent a catamaran for the afternoon, go snorkeling and scuba diving alongside giant sea turtles, and on land enjoy horseback riding, beach volleyball, and motorcycling.
Cayo Santa María
After Hurricane Michelle completely decimated some parts of Cayo Largo and many of its nudist-friendly resorts in 2001, travelers began looking for new places to rock out with their parts out. This forced migration of naturist refugees soon created an accepting community on Cayo Santa Maria, a similarly idyllic sliver of sand just north of mainland Cuba. Today, the entire west side of Sol Cayo Maria Beach is dedicated to free-spirited frolickers. If you’re a pinky-out type of traveler with an affinity for all-inclusive resorts, the Meliá Buenavista in Cayo Santa María is an exclusive, adults-only eco-resort with all kinds of plush amenities. Leave your clothes in your room and park yourself in a bungalow in one of the best clothing-optional beaches in Cuba.
Cayo Ensenachos is a neighboring beach just 4 miles west of Santa María that also welcomes nudist travelers. Connected to mainland Cuba by a 33-mile causeway, Ensenachos is a beautiful little slice of paradise often overlooked by travelers. It’s a horseshoe-shaped bay with calm waters, offshore reefs, dive sites and world-class fishing. Ensenachos is a one-island-one-hotel concept, so your only option for accommodation is the Iberostar Ensenachos. The resort boasts some of the most beautiful gardens in the country and is divided into three sections: Park Suite for families and children, Spa Suite for adults over 18 years old, and Grand Village, a collection of luxury villas each equipped with their own jacuzzi. The beaches here are very private and very secluded, which makes it ideal for sunbathing in the buff.
Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo
Just east of Ensenachos and Santa María is Cayo Guillermo, another stretching archipelago off the coast of mainland Cuba. Playa Pilar isn’t a formally designated nudist beach, but it gets a tacit nod from local authorities; so feel free to flaunt it, but flaunt at your own risk. Even though Cayo Guillermo and the Jardines del Rey region, in general, has witnessed significant recent development, Playa Pilar still maintains a fairly pristine vibe. The sand is white, the water is clear, and palm trees provide much-needed shade. Head to the east end of the beach to find the most seclusion. As far as accommodations go, the best options include the Sol Cayo Guillermo, the Secrotel Club, and the Iberostar Daiquiri. All are excellent options, but none have private nudist beaches. Make your way west to Playa Pilar to enjoy an afternoon of clothing-free fun.