Travelers to Havana will get used to seeing the ocean from what seems like every city corner and every rooftop. But where are the beaches in Havana?
Though the city of Havana isn’t home to Cuba’s most impressive white sand beaches, there are more beaches in Havana Cuba than you might expect. Within the city limits, several beaches are worth your time as a visitor – especially if you can’t plan an overnight or weekend at one of Cuba’s best beaches like nearby Varadero.
As locals, we’ve visited the very best Havana Cuba beaches (and the not-so-great-ones). These are the best beaches in Havana for your trip, plus how to get there and what you need to know to enjoy your beach trip.
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Havana Cuba Beaches
Despite its enviable oceanfront location, Havana, Cuba doesn’t have much in the way of beaches. Much of the city’s oceanfront is lined with sea walls – with the most popular sections of the malecón (sea wall) stretching from Havana’s harbor and Old Havana past the upscale neighborhood of Vedado and beyond. Locals swim here, but we don’t recommend it.
We really recommend finding time in your Cuba itinerary to get to one of Cuba’s nicer beaches if you can. Whether that means a quick overnight in Varadero or spending an entire week at one of the resorts in Holguin or in the white-sand cays of Jardines del Rey, you’re in for an unforgettable beach vacation.
However, there are a few beaches in Havana Cuba worth adding to your itinerary. Located in the area known as Playas del Este – or, beaches of the East. These Havana beaches provide a much-needed spot for a beautiful beach day without trekking further down the coast to Varadero.
Read More: Playas del Este Traveler’s Guide
Havana has a few beach-like spots within city limits. Mostly rocky, almost barely accessible sections of shore like the Playita de 16 and others offer a way for locals to enjoy a refreshing dip in the ocean, leaving MUCH to be desired.
At the eastern edge of Havana city limits and beyond, a stretch of true beachfront appears, a group of beaches widely referred to Playas del Este – the beaches of the East. These are widely considered the best beaches in Havana Cuba.
Towards the western side of the city, there are a few beaches, though they’re not as impressive as Playas del Este and generally rocky, though Playa La Concha is relatively nice. You’ll definitely want to opt for Playas del Este.
Best Beaches Near Havana
1. Playa Marazul
Best Beach Near Havana
Public transportation options make it easiest for locals to reach the beaches at the extremes of the Playas del Este area – Bacuranao and Guanabo. That leaves the beautiful stretch of sand at Playa Marazul much less crowded despite having some of the most beautiful beachfronts in the area. This makes it our favorite among Havana beaches.
Playa Marazul, directly in front of the small, admittedly faded MarAzul Hotel, has impressively white sand and relatively shallow water that make it great for swimming and sunning. Rent beach chairs and umbrellas for just a few pesos to enjoy this beach, which tends to be quieter because the main road is relatively further from the beachfront.
There isn’t much in the way of beach amenities here, though a few decent, local eateries around offer solid meals. However, the stunning beachfront will win you over to our favorite among all the beaches in Havana to choose from.
Read More: 6+ Best Resorts in Havana, Cuba
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2. Playa Santa Maria del Mar
Located immediately to the east of Marazul, Playa Santa Maria is another top contender among the best Havana beaches for its beachful white sand. In fact, this is the longest beach in Playas de Este, stretching on for over 10 kilometers and offering a bit of something for everyone.
Santa Maria del Mar offers everything you’d need for a good beach day: beach chairs and umbrella for rent, beach vendors selling drinks and food, and a few nearby restaurants to choose from; you’ll even find vendors who will bring your food to you from the restaurant if you just can’t peal your eyes from the beautiful beachfront for a minute.
There’s a section of Playa Maria del Mar beachfront located towards the eastern edge of the beach known as Mi Cayito that has a history of being particularly gay-friendly if this is something you’re looking for.
3. Playa Guanabo
Best Beach for an Overnight
In terms of the sheer beauty of Havana beaches, Playa Guanabo, at the far eastern end of Playas del Este, might be the nicest of them. White, soft sands and clear, calm waters are certainly the norm in Guanabo, though in the winter season, waves are possible (as they are throughout Playas del Este).
Guanabo is home to a proper town rather than just a scattering of beachfront restaurants and vendors, as you’ll find at some of the other Havana beaches on this list. This makes it a great spot to enjoy a variety of restaurants, partake in watersports with rentals of kayaks, paddleboards, and catamarans, and find plenty of beach cottages and small local hotels.
If you were going to spend a night or even a weekend kicking back at Playas del Este, this is where you’d want to do it. It can get a bit crowded at times, especially on the weekend during the summertime when Cubans frequent the beach, but never loud.
Read More: 12 Best Beaches in Cuba
4. Playa Megano
Best Beach for Watersports
Located just west of Playa Marazul, Playa Megano is another beautiful and conveniently accessible option among beaches in Havana, popular with locals and visitors alike. We’ve returned to Playa Megano several times and enjoyed every second of our experience!
Along this beach’s beautiful white sand – shockingly beautiful and among the best in Playas del Este, you’ll find great tourist infrastructure that really makes spending the entire day here a breeze. There are plenty of places to rent palapas, chairs, and umbrellas for the day, as well as numerous options for watersports, including kayaking, paddle boarding, banana boat rides, catamaran rides, and more.
There aren’t a ton of food options here, though the two local eateries closest to the beachfront are both great, if a tad expensive.
5. Playa Tarará
After Playa Bacuranao (which leaves much to be desired!), Playa Tarará is the second-closest beach to Havana and boasts an impressive shoreline. While next-door neighbor Playa Megano tends to attract more visitors, Tarará has plenty of offer and is a great choice for those looking for the convenience of proximity to Havana and its beautiful shoreline.
Tarará has a decent-sized town just off the beachfront where you’ll find a number of places to eat and some small hotels and beach cottage rentals. While it doesn’t have as much to offer as larger Guanabo at the end of the grouping of beaches in Playas del Este, it’s a good option to consider for those who want to spend at least one night in the area.
6. Playa Boca Ciega
Located just west of Guanabo, the beautiful beachfront at Playa Boca Ciega is a totally laid-back Havana beach that visitors love. While it tends to be a bit forgotten among travelers headed to busier and more well-known Guanabo and Santa Maria del Mar, this beach can be a perfect one for a totally relaxing afternoon of sand and sea.
While Playa Boca Ciega tends to be a bit more challenging to access via public transportation than some of the other Havana Cuba beach options you’ll be choosing from, you’ll still find everything you need here, including rentals of beach chairs and umbrellas, as well as a few good places to eat.
Keep in mind that the water isn’t as shallow as here and tends to be wavier, so it might not be as great for beginner swimmers, though it’s an excellent beach if this isn’t a worry to you.
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7. Playa Bacuranao
The closest beach among the Playas del Este to Old Havana and one of the most accessible beaches for those using public transportation from the city, Playa Bacuranao is among the most popular go-to beaches in Havana for locals craving a dip in the ocean.
While this beach is popular, it doesn’t exactly have the best reputation for being the nicest beach. In fact, locals have an amusing nickname for this beach that implies that it is dirty – it’s a nickname not worth repeating here!
The fact that locals continue to visit tells you everything; it’s still a nice beach and a great, convenient way to get in the ocean if you’re based in Havana. However, we recommend traveling a bit further down the shoreline to some of our favorite Havana Cuba beaches, like Marazul or Santa Maria del Mar, instead.
Read More: Playas del Este: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide
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.