Cayo Jutias, Cuba: A Local’s Guide for Travelers [2024]

If built-up beaches like Varadero and Cayo Coco aren’t your style, Cayo Jutias might be just what you’re looking for. Nestled along Cuba’s northern coast near the stunning valleys of Viñales, Cayo Jutias is easily one of the best beach destinations in Cuba.

As locals, we’ve chased down some of the most pristine sands in Cuba, only to find that Cayo Jutias is one of the nicest “untouched” beaches on the island. Read on for more of our insider tips on how to get to Cayo Jutias, the best things to do on the island, and the best ways to make the most of a visit.

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Cayo Jutias

Cayo Jutias is a tiny island located just off the shore of the Cuban mainland, known for stunning white sands that are perfect for undisturbed beach days.

Cayo Jutias is so thoroughly untouched and undeveloped that it’s mostly mangrove forests and deserted shores. It is also home to a cool “starfish beach,” populated with hundreds of bright red starfish. You can even touch the starfish and watch them wiggle; just don’t remove them from the water to keep them safe!

Despite its small size, Cayo Jutias has a small amount of infrastructure that makes a visit more comfortable than pure adventure. A few local restaurants serve delicious seafood dishes like lobster, a rental shack provides kayaks and snorkeling gear, and chairs and umbrellas for rent, so you can enjoy an entire day here.

Cayo Jutias is located just off the northern coast of the Pinar del Rio province of western Cuba, known to travelers primarily as being home to the stunning Viñales Valley. That being said, it’s one of the most popular day trip destinations from Viñales; it’s quite affordable to book a private car from Viñales or split with other travelers visiting Viñales, too!

Reviews and Bookings: Pre-Book Transportation from Viñales to Cayo Jutias

Is Cayo Jutias Worth Visiting?

Cayo Jutias is definitely worth visiting if you can fit it into your Cuba itinerary. While even the busiest beach in Cuba tends to feel untouched in comparison to some of the built-up beaches elsewhere in the Caribbean, Cayo Jutias is truly a tucked-away gem that travelers looking to get off the beaten path will love.

Despite being relatively little visited, Cayo Jutias isn’t deserted, offering just enough beach chairs, kayak rentals, and snorkeling equipment for visitors. We consider it a bit of a “goldilocks” destination in that regard.

things to do in cayo jutias
Florian Augustin / Shutterstock

Cayo Levisa vs. Cayo Jutias

It’s a question we get from tons of travelers – is Cayo Jutias or nearby Cayo Levisa the better choice? Well, it all depends on what you’re looking for! Both islands feel a world away and are among the most impressive beach destinations in Cuba, so you can’t go wrong with either!

Cayo Jutias is connected to the Cuban mainland by causeway, making it much easier to visit; accessing Cayo Levisa means taking a ferry. Cayo Levisa is much closer to Havana and makes for a better day trip option from Havana, though both islands are about equidistant from Viñales and are both popular day trip options from here.

Read More: Cayo Levisa: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide

Things To Do in Cayo Jutias

1. Enjoy the Beach

Cayo Jutias is first and foremost a beach destination, meaning that if you’re going to come here you’re certainly looking forward to spending a lot of time on the sand and in the water. A lot of Cayo Jutias is rimmed with mangrove forests, with a few main beach spots that most visitors tend to frequent – the driver bringing you to the island will know right where to take you.

Beach amenities like showers, a few different small local restaurants, and toilets, along with watersports and snorkeling gear rental businesses, make it an easy place to enjoy.

Make sure to walk the sands and explore the areas that are populated with little more than sunbleached branches. Take our word for it: make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen! While there are several shady spots around the beach and umbrellas are available, some sections of beach front don’t offer much shade at all.

2. Look for Starfish

One of the coolest areas of Cayo Jutias is the island’s unique and remote “starfish beach,” hidden at the end of the tiny peninsula, away from the causeway connecting the island. As the informal name of the beach implies, it’s populated with spiky red starfish that wiggle and visibly walk (I’ve seen it!) under the crystalline waters to the delight of visitors.

Take a boat ride to the spot from the island’s main restaurant and beach area or ask for guidance to finding the path that cuts through the mangroves to reach it yourself – both the sea stars and the natural beauty are worth it.

3. Go Snorkeling

As you can imagine, the snorkeling at the “starfish beach” at Cayo Jutias is popular, but even visitors looking to snorkel along some of the island’s more popular beaches are in for a treat. The true underwater enthusiasts will want to swim out to the coral reefs about 100 yards off-shore, but even those looking to stick closer to the sand will spot large tropical fish and a few rogue starfish that have wandered away from the beach.

Rent snorkeling gear from the gear rental store in the main beach and restaurant area of the island for a few hours to enjoy the day. You’ll also find other watersports options like kayaks, catamarans, and pedal boats for rent.

Travel Essential

Don’t think about traveling to Cuba without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, especially in Cuba. 

visit cayo jutias
Albin Hillert / Shutterstock

Where To Stay Near Cayo Jutias

There are no casa particular guesthouses or hotels on Cayo Jutias. While it is technically possible to wild camp on the beach, we’d generally recommend against it unless you’re a local or have your own transportation to and from the island.

The vast majority of travelers that visit the island take the day trip from Viñales, spending a night or two at one of the numerous casa particular guesthouses in Viñales. In our opinion, this is the very best way to visit Cayo Jutias.

Looking to stay a bit closer? Check out the basic but welcoming casa particular guesthouse in nearby town of Santa Lucia on the mainland, located just across the causeway from the island. Villa Cayo Jutias and Hostal Yoslaidy are the best places to stay in the area.

Read More: Where To Stay in Viñales, Cuba: Ultimate Accommodation Guide

Travel Insurance

Cuba requires that all travelers have proof of a comprehensive travel insurance policy in order to enter the country. Check out our guide to travel insurance for Cuba for more details. We recommend these brands for Cuba travel insurance:

  • Visitors Coverage: Coverage for Cuba travel available to citizens of all countries, though not currently available to residents of New York and Maryland in the United States.
  • Insubuy: Coverage for Cuba travel available to citizens of all countries and states of the United States.

Getting to Cayo Jutias

Cayo Jutias is located about an hour and a half from Viñales, or about four hours west of Havana. Located in an area of the country that is quite sparsely populated, roads can be a bit bumpy in areas, though they’re more than manageable even in a stylish vintage American car.

There are no public buses that reach Cayo Jutias directly, meaning that you’ll need to organize private transportation in order to access the island and its legendary beaches. Since the vast majority of travelers visiting Cayo Jutias do so as a day trip from Viñales, this doesn’t tend to be an issue. Book transportation from Viñales in advance online (affordable and convenient!) or chance it to see if you can split the fare with other travelers in Viñales.

Cayo Jutias is technically within day trip distance of Havana as well if you have private transportation, though we generally recommend that travelers looking for a day trip from Havana choose easier-to-access Varadero instead. If you’re able to spend at least one night in Viñales or nearby Santa Lucia, the journey is far easier and the experience much better.

Reviews and Bookings: Pre-Book Transportation from Viñales to Cayo Jutias

Carley Rojas Avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Home to Havana and Explorers Away. She is a serial expat and traveler, having visited 40+ countries and counting. Carley has written for publications like Travel + Leisure, MSN, Associated Press, Weather Channel, Wealth of Geeks, and more. Find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.