by Terri Paajanen
Forget cigars, Cuban beaches are what this island is famous for. Sitting in warm Caribbean waters, Cuba is surrounded by sandy beaches perfect for tourists. Because the entire island is ringed with beaches, there is no way to really list all of the beaches in Cuba. But I have listed some of the more popular beach regions, particularly those with nearby resorts that you might want to visit.
Varadero is within about a 2 hour drive from the capital of Havana on the northern coast, and once you’re there you can enjoy more than 13 miles (or 20 km) of sandy beaches. World-class resorts like Sandals and Iberostar Tainos are found in Varadero and there are many more. The beaches aren’t the only thing Varadero has to offer either. The Bellamar Caves are great fun to explore, and the Hicacos Point Natural park is at the end of the peninsula. As I mentioned, it’s an easy drive from Havana, or you can fly directly to the Juan Gualberto Gomez Airport in Varadero.
Cayo Coco is on an island off the north coast of Cuba, though farther east than Varadero. There is an airport on the island, the Jardines del Rey Airport, but you can also drive onto the island via a connecting highway. Cayo Coco is strictly a tourist resort island, so there won’t be any “authentic” Cuban culture nearby. There are several resorts on the island, but it’s not as busy as Varadero. It’s a simple place where visitors come to just relax in the sun and enjoy some warm Caribbean waters.
Cayo Largo del Sur
Another Cuban beach area that is on an island off the mainland of Cuba. This time, it’s to the south. There are lovely beaches all around the island, as well as expanses of live coral reefs. Ideal for a bit of snorkeling or scuba diving. Some specific beaches are Playa Paraiso and Playa Sirena. Like Cayo Coco, this is a very tourist-only area and a quiet one at that. Walk along the beaches, go swimming or enjoy the activities at your resort. That’s all you need to think about.
Back to the north coast, but again more to the east than the beaches already mentioned. There are many excellent beaches near the city of Holguin, including Playa Esmeralda, and Playa Guardalavaca. If you’re staying around Holguin, you’ll find more natural Cuban wilderness to enjoy as well as the beaches. There are several mountainous and forested areas nearby. Resorts like the Gran Caribe Playa Blanca are in the Holguin area, among others.
Isla de la Juventud
Not far from Cayo Largo del Sur, is the larger island of Isla de la Juventud. It definitely has its share of Cuban beaches, such as Playa Bibijagua and Playa Largo, but there are many more sights to see here. There are caves, and several places for scuba diving too. You can take a ferry from the mainland, or fly directly to Nueva Gerona International Airport.
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