One of the main draws of Cuba is its picturesque playas, and finding the right place to stay by the beach can make or break your trip. This list of Cuba’s top beaches and their ideal accommodations can guide you to the best room for you.
1. Cayo Coco
Cayo Coco is an island in the central region of northern Cuba. Cayo Coco’s pristine white sand beaches, stretching as far as the eye can see, as well as its calm, crystal clear waters, make it a favorite destination for foreigners, who tend to stay in one of the island’s 10 all-inclusive tourist resorts. Often compared to Varadero, this idyllic escape boasts more secluded beaches, with fewer hotels, creating a nice private getaway to your slice of paradise.
Where to stay: Melia Cayo Coco
Whether you’re booking for your honeymoon or just a relaxing holiday, one of our favorite places to stay in Cayo Coco is luxury resort Melia Cayo Coco. With all-inclusive features like swimming pool with sun loungers, a beach bar, and watersports including scuba diving, windsurfing and sailing, this elegant complex offers more than your average beach stay. Here you can book a room, villa or suite in the stilt-supported, overwater bungalows. The structure of these bungalows creates the illusion that they are floating on the water of the inland lagoon, adding a touch of fantasy to an already dreamy escape.
2. Playa Ancon
Trinidad is a small, charming town with colonial Spanish architecture and the most popular beach on Cuba’s south coast: Playa Ancon. One major perk to this beach is its proximity to the town with its colorful buildings and cobblestone streets. Though the beach itself is not amongst the most beautiful beaches of Cuba, it still retains the Cuban standard of white sands and warm waters, while also being conveniently accessible by taxi, bus or bike from Trinidad. This beach has three all-inclusive hotels for those seeking luxury accommodations, as well as options of casa particulares for those on a budget.
This all-inclusive hotel is right on the sparkling white sands of Playa Ancon with a backdrop of the Escambray mountains in the distance. Brisas Trinidad del Mar actually presents itself as a miniature version of Trinidad, with colonial arches and cobblestone pathways integrated into the structure of the hotel itself. Features include a jacuzzi, watersports and views overlooking the sea.
This coastal paradise lies on the northern shore of Cuba on the eastern side of the island. Guardalavaca is a small village with a soft, white sand beach and crystalline turquoise waters. Known for sporting activities, this beach offers snorkeling, scuba diving, catamaran sailing and more.
Just a ten-minute taxi ride from the village, you’ll find the Paradisus Rio de Oro Resort and Spa. This luxury hotel is right on the beachfront, overlooking a beautiful coral reef. Located inside the Bahía de Naranjo Natural Park, this eco-resort present the perfect balance of nature. Featuring a botanic garden and natural orchidarium as well as a main lobby in the style of an indigenous village, this all-inclusive resort doesn’t leave much to be desired.
4. Playas del Este
A convenient 15-minute taxi ride from Havana, you’ll find the more economical beach destination Playas del Este. While not as developed as other tourist-populated Cuban beaches, this strip is known to have a more rustic feel. On this soft white sand beach you won’t find the luxuries and facilities of all-inclusive resorts, but rather the cross-cultural mix of foreigners and local Cubans who also frequent the area.
Playas del Este consists of six main beaches along the coastline, each one with a different scene and vibe. Santa Maria del Mar is the most popularly known beach of them all, and likewise the most frequented, with all the perks of a tranquil beach plus a nice balance of locals and tourists. Tarará is a gated resort town with a boardwalk and a yacht club as well as a beautiful beach known for yachts and diving. The LGBT community has chosen Boca Ciega as a favorite, as gay couples frequent this beach most. At the end of the strip is Guanabo, a beach town with shops, a nightclub and lots of casas particulares.
Where to stay: Casas particulares on the beach
The best places to stay on this stretch of beaches are casas particulares, private homes rented to foreigners by locals.
Photo by Kait Dugan
Now that you’ve seen the best options of what beaches to visit and where to stay, there’s only one thing left to do: Book your stay! Before you know it, it will be time to kick back and relax on the soft sands of Cuba’s beaches, coconut in hand and ready to tan. What are you waiting for?