Top 5 Cuba Beach Destinations
Most people who travel to Cuba for their holidays think of Cuba as one of the top Caribbean beach destinations. In fact, though Cuba is much more than just excellent beaches, it is worth considering Cuba beach destinations when you are planning a holiday in the Caribbean.
Which are Cuba’s top beaches? – It is a question many friends ask me. I would say that most Cuba beach destinations are above world standards. But there are some I prefer more than others. It all depends on what your preferences are and what kind of holiday you are looking for. Here are some characteristics of the best Cuba beach destinations to give you a better idea.
Varadero is a world known Cuba beach destination that offers all the main attractions tourists might look for on their beach holiday: more than 20 kilometres of an uninterrupted fine white sandy beach with warm clear turquoise waters, that seem to be taken from a tropical beach postcard, lots of water sport options and night entertainment, a perfect place for those who like diving and are interested in finding a good all inclusive resort. The glistening white sands, cool tropical breezes and tranquil Atlantic waters provide the perfect backdrop for a broad range of resorts, from family-friendly to all-inclusive, and everything in between. Some call Varadero Beach the world’s greatest beach, and it’s easy to see why.
Varadero beach is situated on the Hicacos Peninsula, between the Bay of Cárdenas and the Straits of Florida, some 140 km east of Havana, at the eastern end of the Via Blanca highway. The peninsula is only 1.2 km wide at its widest point and is separated from the island of Cuba by the Kawama Channel. This spit of land however extends more than 20 kilometers from the mainland in a northeasterly direction and its tip, Punta Hicacos, is the northernmost point of the island of Cuba. At the northeastern end of the peninsula there is a nature reserve with virgin forests and beaches. TheHicacos Point Natural Park is a 3.12 km2 (1.20 sq mi) ecological preserve established in 1974. It contains the 250 m (820 ft) long Cave of Ambrosio, Mangón Lake (home to 31 species of birds and 24 species of reptiles) and the ruins of the La Calavera (The Skull) Salt Works (one of the first salt works to be constructed by the Spanish in the New World). The cays developed off shore, such as Cayo Piedras and Cayo Cruz del Padre are the westernmost part of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago.
Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport, situated west of the peninsula, is Varadero’s airport. It is the second-most-important airport of the island afterJosé Martí Airport in Havana, and serves international and domestic flights.
Some people claim that when you opt for Varadero you don’t experience the “real Cuba”. I wouldn’t say that, it all depends on you. Besides, what is the “real Cuba”? I am one of those who think that no tourist will ever know the “real Cuba”, but if what you mean is being in contact with Cuban culture and Cuban people, well, there are many Cubans in Varadero. Just don’t forget that Cubans don’t generally go to the beach from September to April. It is kind of cold for them. However, if you visit Varadero in July or August, you will see it is full of Cubans. Especially people from Havana like going to Varadero. They can’t avoid the temptation of enjoying this top Cuba beach destination, just 2 hour drive from the capital city.
For those looking for adventure, Varadero is well equipped to handle almost any water sport you can think of, from scuba diving to sailing to swimming with the dolphins. You can even sneak in a round of golf at the Varadero Golf Club’s breathtaking championship course, or hike through the history-rich Ambrosio Cave. If pampering is what you have mind, Varadero boasts an abundance of spas to help you unwind.
Just beyond the spectacular beaches, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for local excursions. Explore the ecotourism options offered on the nearby Zapata Peninsula, the largest wetland reserve in the Caribbean, or within the Varahicacos ecological reserve, where you can hike along vegetation-rich trails and gaze at the colourful array of exotic birds. For a more cultured diversion, visit the city of Matanzas, nicknamed the “Athens of Cuba” because of the wealth of celebrated European poets and writers living there during the mid-19th century.
Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo
Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo are two unspoiled Cuba beach destinations located north off the main island. They are part of Jardines del Rey and are connected to mainland by a causeway.
The Cuba beach destinations of Cayo Guillermo are all located north of the island, so the sun rises on the beach in front of the hotels, magnificent sight! There are three beaches on the island for a total distance of about five kilometers, but not continuously. Like all the islands of the king’s gardens, beaches are separated by ancient coral reefs now emerged. It is impossible to cross these areas, between two beaches, without shoes or water sandals.
The section of the longest beach (approx. 3.2 km) is home of the four hotels in Cayo Guillermo. The sand is white, fine and dense enough to facilitate walking. The most beautiful and popular beach of Cayo Guillermo and even Cayo Coco (the two sister islands of this region of Cuba), Playa Pilar is located at the west end of the island.
Those wishing to walk to Playa Pilar from the hotel zone will opt for the paved road instead of the beach. If you still want to get there by the beach, do not forget to bring a good supply of water and sunscreen lotion.
Cayo Guillermo offer tourists astonishing beaches framed by an incredible coral reef, perfect for those who enjoy diving. Lots of water sport options await you there and if you are looking for fun, you will never get bored..
All Cuba beach destinations are public, so access is unrestricted. The slope to enter the sea is low and the water is shallow due to its sand dune, the highest of the Caribbean (15 meters above sea level). Cayo Guillermo is a favorite spot for families, because the water is shallow and the dangers of drowning are minimal.
What surprises the most in Cayo Guillermo is not like any other Cuba beach destinations, its beach width varies a lot depending of the tides. From six to more than fifty meters wide at low tide. Rarely, you will see a flag other than green at the beach!
Cayo Las Brujas, Santa María, Playa Ensenachos and Playa Mégano
Cayo Ensenacho, one of the more than 500 islets north off Cuba is just a 2 km² cay with some of the best Cuba beach destinations. Its clear waters, fine white sand and the great variety of fauna make it a perfect choice for a a wedding destination, a romantic getaway, or just a relaxing beach holiday in Cuba. That’s why many people consider Cayo Ensenacho a jewel among Cuba beach destinations.
Not far from Cayo Santa Maria, north off Villa Clara, Cayo Las Brujas offers tourists one of the best beach destinations in Cuba. Its unspoiled virgin beaches with incredibly clear waters, fine white sand and exotic flora and fauna make Cayo Las Brujas a unique beach destination in Cuba.
For those who want to drop out of everything in a bucolic environment without sacrificing the pleasures of good food and premium services. You will not be disappointed of the Iberostar Ensenachos!
Cayo Ensenachos is a tiny island with only two neighbors, Cayo Las Brujas to the west and Cayo Santa Maria to the east. There are two beautiful beaches, Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos. These Cuba beach destinations are well known by many tourists, even before the construction of the resort, which opened its doors in 2006.
Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Las Brujas and Cayo Ensenachos are connected to the main island of Cuba by a causeway (or pedraplen in spanish) of 48 kms. This colossal work took more than ten years (1989-1999) of effort to transport people and cargo to the hotels’ area, by minimizing the impact on the environment through as many bridges as there are kilometers of roads. You will find in this region, more than 80 species of native flowers and animals and some are endemic to the « Jardines del Rey ». This makes it a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Holguin Beaches – Playa Esmeralda, Playa Guardalavaca, Cayo Saetia
Holguin beaches are considered some of the best beaches in Cuba. They are all excellent and it would be hard to say which the best is. Their clear waters and pristine white sand make them many tourists’ favourite. Apart from excellent virgin beaches Cayo Saetia gives you the possibility of exploring tropical exotic nature. Lots of water sports and excellent resorts will make your Holguin Beach holidays unique.
Guardalavaca Beach – Is a shell-shaped and over half a mile (almost a km) long. It is near several sites of great archeological and natural interest, which is over 2950 feet (900 meters) long, is protected by extensive coral reefs, escarpments, cliffs and lush vegetation that provides shade. The area also contains Pesquero Beach, rich in underwater scenery and good fishing spots; Don Lino, a beautiful beach which blends open spaces, architecture and the world of nature in perfect harmony; and Blanca (White) Beach, another site with very fine sand and unbelievably beautiful water near Cayo Bariay, the place where Christopher Columbus first set food on Cuban soil.
Esmeralda Beach – Esmeralda and Guardalavaca Cuba beach destinations, which have great hotel infrastructure, share an offshore area around 11 miles (18 km) long which contains 40 scuba diving sites. The seabed is irregular and complex, forming high hillocks, caves, small valleys and cliffs with vertical sides which in some places descend gently to form terraces covered with Common Sea Fans (Gorgonia spp.), other Gorgonians and coral. Many species of colorful fish live there.
Activities at Playa Esmeralda Beach include swimming, sailing lessons, scuba diving, snorkeling, other water sports, horseback riding, excursions along the coast and inland, visits to farmer’s houses, miniature golf, tennis and cycling. At night, choose among the discotheque and other attractions.
Cayo Saetia – To the east, near the broad Bay of Nipe, is 16 square miles (42 square km) in size, and 65 percent of it is covered with forests. The rest of its territory consists of meadows where American ostriches, antelope, zebras, deer, wild boars, hutias and wild bulls roam at will. It has accommodations of its own, Hotel Cayo Saetia. Activities include swimming, yachting and going on safaris in jeeps or horseback.
Playa Santa Lucia
Playa Santa Lucia, north of Camaguey, is one of the excellent Cuba beach destinations that welcomes a great variety of migratory ducks, flamingos, colourful tropical fish and other marine species that are some of the main attractions in the area, the ideal place for those who love diving and enjoy nature.
Santa Lucia has 13 miles (21 km) of wide, white-golden sandy beaches bathed by warm turquoise water that is always calm, thanks to an extensive coral reef just a mile and a quarter (two km) from the coast. This reef is the longest one of its kind in the western hemisphere. The hollows and branches of these coral formations from the habitat of a surprising diversity of marine life.
In one area which has 35 scuba-diving sites, you can see ridges nearly 33 feet (10 m) high, and the wealth of underwater flora and fauna is complemented with many sunken ships-some of them dating from the 19th century. Inland, the El Real Lake is an excellent place for seeing flocks of Roseate Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber) and other water birds. Santa Lucia is a tourist resort with enormous potential which is being developed in harmony with its gorgeous natural surroundings.
These are just a sample of what you can find if you travel to Cuba beach destinations for your holidays. I am afraid I am missing many other possible options. Cayo Sabinal, Cayo Levisa, Cayo Jutias and many others also deserve being included here. Just look at your preferences and check all Cuba beach destinations options. There are perfect holiday destinations for every person. Find yours.
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