Havana, Cuba has some of the best beaches in the world. Not far from Cuba's capital city lie vast expanses of white sandy beaches where you can relax with a cocktail or get in on the fun of the available water sports. The water is crystal clear with plenty of coral reefs to explore for scuba divers. If you're not sure where to start, browse through our guide to the best beaches in Havana to check out the reasons why our choices are so popular with visitors.
Start your day of beach hopping with the closest beach to Havana. Playa Bacurano is best for snorkeling. The sand isn't as smooth as some of the other beaches. You'll find quite a few rocks, but the coral reef is beautiful. It offers an exceptional place for exploration of the underwater ecosystem. It's a fun place to spend a couple of hours. There is also a sunken 18th-century Spanish galleon offshore. It's ideal for scuba and snorkeling.
This beach sets near Cuba's northern coast. The waters at Cayo Levisa feature rare black corals as attractions for snorkelers and scuba divers. Access to the beach is by boat from Palma Rubia. The beach is 3 km in length with soft white sand and transparent waters. A diving center exists at Cayo Levisa, where you can rent any equipment that you need for water activities. There is also a hotel with bungalow-style accommodations if you prefer to stay close to the beach. Cayo Levisa tends to get crowded during the summer months.
Playa Maria la Gorda
Divers prefer Playa Maria la Gorda because of its breathtaking reef. Underwater adventures feature amazing marine life and lovely coral formations. There are no resorts at Playa Maria la Gorda, but there is plenty of white sandy beaches with thick plant life in certain areas. It's a virgin beach that is not far from the Maria la Gorda International Diving Center. This stretch is the home of several designated and protected diving areas.
Santa Maria del Mar
The main beach near Havana is Santa Maria del Mar. It's a 40-minute taxi drive from downtown Havana. During the summer months, the beach gets crowded because of its lovely fine white sand and clear waters. You can find a lot of amenities at the beach, including rental chairs, umbrellas, kayaks, and more. You can find bars serving cocktails, and quite a few restaurants within walking distance. There is also a convenience store that sells a little bit of everything. Santa aria del Mar is the largest beach near Havana with a 9 km coastline with a continuous strip of beaches as you move down the coast. There are also several hotels and resorts near the beach if you're looking for a great place to stay.
Mi Cayito is a small section of the beach near Havana. It's known as Havana's gay beach. It's a well-known destination among the locals. This portion of the beach sits in between Santa Mari del Mar and Megano. It's not a crowded area as acceptance of the LGBTQ community is a bit behind some western countries. It's a place where gay life is more accepted. People gather to have fun on a lovely expanse of beach in a warm and welcoming environment.
Playa Del Salado
You must at least check out the waters of Playa del Salado. The most remarkable feature of this expanse is the salty water. The water provides healing properties for the skin. Its geographical position creates the perfect mix of currents for higher salt deposits. Even the name translates as "salty beach." By far, the saltiest water flows here. You'll marvel at the beauty of Playa Del Saludo's fine white sand. Playa Del Salado is a 30-minute drive from Havana.
Although Varadero beach is 120 km from Havana, it's well worth the trip. Varadero beach has earned a reputation for being the most beautiful beach near the capital city. The Varadero resort is among the largest in the Caribbean. The venue encompasses 22 kilometers. The waters are turquoise colored and crystal clear. If you're fond of beach activities, Varadero offers marinas, discos, shopping centers, hotels, and other attractions. Tourists come all year round to visit this beach.
If you're already in Cuba, then the 3-hour drive to Play Giron will be a good investment of your time. It's on the east side of the Bay of Pigs. Playa Giron is a popular tourist destination with breathtaking surroundings and historical significance. You'll find lovely beaches and plenty of great diving and snorkeling opportunities, as well as clear and calm waters that are teeming with marine life. Behind the beach, you'll find a protected national park with dense forests, caves with natural swimming holes, and park guides to take you on exciting excursions. It's one of Cuba's best beaches with long sandy expanses and access to the coral reef.
Advice and Tips for visiting Havana beaches
Why Not Cuba offers some advice for first-timers visiting Havana beaches. It starts with the best times to come. Cuba's winter season stretches from November to February. The weather is a little cooler, but the water and sand are still warm, and the sun shines brightly. July through August is the busiest part of the year, but the best activities take place from May to September. It's important to remember, however, that hurricane season extends from May through November, so plan accordingly
Finding your way around Havana's beaches
It's best to map out your itinerary in advance. There are a few great apps you can download for offline use. You can find great local restaurants through the AlaMesa app or transportation providers through the Habana Trans app. Some taxi services are inexpensive, but others are higher priced.
Protect your skin
While visiting Havana beaches, you will need to protect your skin from the sun. We recommend that you bring a high SPF sunblock to prevent sunburn and other issues. The most dangerous time to be out in the sun is between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
There are dozens of great beaches near Havana, but some are better than others. You'll discover that each beach has its personality. It's good to check out several if you have the time because each offers a new and exciting experience. We hope you have the time of your life on your visit to Havana.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn