Destinations Directory

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Best Beaches in Havana

1. Playa Girón

Best Beach in the Bay of Pigs

On the east bank of the Bay of Pigs lie a beloved beach and village named for a legendary 17th-century French pirate, Gilberto Girón. These days, they're better known for their proximity to celebrated diving spots, and Playa Girón continues to deliver unforgettable Caribbean adventures in an unapologetically Cuban atmosphere.

The nearby village isn't big on attractions and activities, so focus your plans on the white sands and clear waters of Playa Girón. If you're planning to snorkel or dive, there are some areas you don't want to miss.

Exploring the Waters

To get your underwater adventure started, simply don your snorkeling gear and wade out a ways from the shore. If you want to get even closer to the aquatic action, book a trip with a diving tour operator to explore nearby coral reefs, walls and shipwrecks.

It's not uncommon to see a mélange of exotic fish here, especially if you head to renowned (but relatively unexplored) Caleta Buena. Pufferfish, trunkfish, cuttlefish and even seahorses have been spotted here, among others.

Other activities embraced by beachgoers are fishing and birdwatching.

Nourishment

If you're planning an all-day stay at Playa Girón, consider bringing some snacks and refreshments. Otherwise, make a stop at the small cafe near Punta Perdíz, a favorite of travelers who can't get enough of its all-you-can-eat-buffet and its beachfront views.

Playa Girón at a glance

City: Bay of Pigs

Country or State: Cuba

Access: By car, by taxi

Best time to visit: March to April

High Season: December to April

Low Season: May to November

Facilities:

  • A few eateries in the village
  • No lifeguards
  • No public restrooms

Beach Type:

  • White sand
  • Saltwater
  • Secluded

2. Playa Santa Maria

Cuba's Pristine Keys

Visitors to the keys (or cayos) on Cuba's northern coast say they're home to some of the most beautiful beaches they've ever seen. And with pristine golden sand, electric blue water and long sandy stretches free of crowds, it's no wonder.

But be aware that as of yet, it's not legal for U.S. citizens to visit Cuba independently, though there are no restrictions for Canadians traveling to Cuba.

Oasis for Beach-lovers

Located along a causeway known as the Pedraplen, Cayo Santa Maria boasts eight miles of oceanfront, a handful of all-inclusive resorts and a southern coast replete with forests, marshland and mangroves. Arriving here by bus is an adventure that can take several hours — you'll get amazing views of the ocean while passing mile after mile of undeveloped coastline.

Sunrise is a special treat here — plan to wake up early to take in the scenery. Early birds are also more likely to claim a chair underneath the beachfront palapas, which get more packed as the day wears on.

Inquire at your hotel's activities desk for water sports rentals and excursions.

Restrictions

With tourism restrictions for American citizens, visiting Playa Santa Maria is not as easy as booking a room and hopping on a flight down to Cuba. However, some licensed tour operators make a stop through nearby towns like Remedios or Santa Clara and will arrange a stay at an all-inclusive resort in Cayo Santa Maria as part of their approved people-to-people itineraries.

Playa Santa Maria at a glance

City: Cayo Santa Maria

Country or State: Cuba

Length of Beach: .6 miles

Access: By car or bus

Best time to visit: Fall - best hotel rates

High Season: Dec. to April

Low Season: May to November

Facilities:

  • Loungers and umbrellas provided by resorts

Beach Type:

  • Golden sand
  • Saltwater
  • Secluded

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