playas del este

Playas del Este: A Local’s Guide for Travelers to Havana’s Eastern Beaches [2024]

Don’t let Havana’s beautiful oceanfront location fool you! There are very few true beaches in Havana to speak of, aside from a few sandy spots hidden among rocks and the city’s famous Malecón seawall. If you’re looking for a beach getaway from Havana, you’ll have to look just a little further outside of the city… but not too far.

As locals, we’ve visited every beach in Playas del Este – an impressive section of beaches just east of the city of Havana. Read on for our tips about how to enjoy Havana’s eastern beaches and whether or not we think they’re worth the drive!

beaches in havana

This post contains affiliate links that may reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases – at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please read our disclosure policy.

Playas del Este

Located just over twenty minutes west of the city of Havana, the Playas del Este area is a collection of beaches and small communities along the shore. While this area technically isn’t a part of Havana, it’s considered to have Havana’s best beaches, by far!

This stretch of beachfront, about nine miles more or less in length, includes about seven unique beaches. From popular and easily accessible local beaches that leave a lot to be desired to truly impressive stretches of fine golden sand and crystal-clear waters, you’ll find a lot of variety on the beaches of Playas de Este.

Is Playas del Este Worth Visiting?

For travelers planning their Cuba itinerary with a bit more time to spare, we generally recommend skipping the beaches at Playa del Este and heading to one of Cuba’s best beaches instead. While the beaches at Playas del Este are nice, Cuba boasts so many beaches that are truly spectacular and well worth visiting if your itinerary allows.

The beaches in Varadero, just a little over two hours from Havana, are considered among the world’s best, earning a spot on TripAdvisor’s list of the best beaches in the world for several years running.

However, if you have even more time, consider visiting one of Cuba’s many white sand cays, whether it be Cayo Largo del Sur off the island’s southern coast or the well-known Cayo Coco or Cayo Guillermo off Cuba’s northern shores. Any of these beaches are much more impressive than the ones you’ll find in Playas del Este.

Playas del Este Map

Check out the Playas del Este map we created to get a sense of where to find the beaches in Playas del Este in relation to Havana.

While it’s generally easier to get from Havana to the beaches at both extremes of Playa del Este, there’s plenty to consider before deciding which beach in Playas del Este to choose from for your Havana beach day. Click around and download this map for reference during your stay.

Read More: 7 Best Beaches in Havana

Beaches in Playas del Este

There’s a surprising variety among the beaches in the Playas del Este area, though most tend to have beautiful golden or nearly white sand and impressively clear waters. The area can get wavy during the winter but generally is excellent for both swimming and water sports.

These are the best beaches to visit in Playas del Este:

  • Best Beach in Playas del Este: Playa Marazul
  • Best Beach for an Overnight: Playa Guanabo
  • Best Beach for Watersports: Playa Megano

You’ll find a decent number of resorts in Playas del Este, though they tend to be quite faded and not generally well-kept, as Cuba’s tourism industry quickly turned to other areas of the country like the beaches of Cayo Santa Maria and Holguin. If you want to stay the night here, we recommend choosing a casa particular instead.

Listed in order of proximity to the city of Havana, these are the beaches in the Playas del Este area. Make sure to read more about each one – our favorites are definitely not those that are most convenient to Havana!

playas del este cuba

Beaches in Playas del Este: Playa Bacuranao

The closest beachfront to Havana, and the most easily accessible by public transportation, is Playa Bacuranao. In just over twenty minutes from Old Havana, you can find yourself on the sands and enjoying a refreshing swim, making this arguably the most popular beach with locals.

While the sand is quite nice and the area is good for swimming, we generally don’t recommend that travelers stop here – stay on the bus or in the taxi a little longer and opt for one of the better beaches in Playas del Este just a few minutes down the coast.

While Playa Bacuranao remains popular with locals, there are some local nicknames for the beach (that we won’t repeat here!) that imply it’s dirty and not the best place to visit. We don’t think it’s that bad, but it’s definitely not the best.

Beaches in Playas del Este: Playa Tarará

After passing Playa Bacuracao and crossing the Rio Condesa on your way from Havana, Playa Tarará is the first *nice* stretch of coastline you’ll find, and many consider it the first beach in the Playas del Este area.

While many travelers end up skipping Tarará and heading further down the beach to Playa Megano or Playa Marazul, there’s a small town here with some good local places to eat and vendors renting chairs and umbrellas that make it good for a more laidback beach day. Nice sand and swimmable beachfront make it an excellent choice.

playa megano

Beaches in Playas del Este: Playa Megano

Best Beach for Watersports

Playa Megano is our pick for among the better beaches in Playas del Este. No stark white sand here as you’ll find in Varadero, but soft golden sand and calm, clear waters make it an excellent beach spot near Havana – we’ve visited many times and continue to return.

Playa Megano has a really great array of beach amenities that make it a good choice for travelers – there are plenty of places to rent chairs and umbrellas, and opportunities for renting kayaks, paddleboards, and even catamarans and more.

Food options aren’t as abundant as they are elsewhere, but you’ll have more than enough options to keep you happy on a day at the beach. Plus, the direct stop at Playa Megano on the T3 bus that most travelers take to Playas del Este makes it a super convenient choice for a day trip.

Read More: 8 Best Day Trips from Havana

Beaches in Playas del Este: Playa Marazul

Best Beach in Playas del Este

Playa Marazul is our top pick among beaches near Havana. This is where we bring our families when they visit Cuba, as it’s the most impressively beautiful beach near Havana with a good amount of beach amenities to make it a convenient stop for a day.

Located in front of the MarAzul beach resort, this beachfront feels totally laid back and relaxed, especially in comparison to the more popular areas of beach near Guanabo. Located a little further from the main road, it tends to be less accessible and therefore much quieter, but well worth a visit.

There are a few nearby eateries that offer great local Cuban food and cold drinks, as well as numerous places to rent beach chairs and umbrellas along the sand. The shores are great for swimming, too, and the water seems impossibly clear.

Best Places To Stay in Havana

playas del este

Beaches in Playas del Este: Playa Santa Maria del Mar

We love Playa Santa Maria del Mar and consider it by far one of the best areas of beachfront near Havana. Beautiful sand and generally calm, shallow waters make it great for every type of visitor – including families.

While this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, it’s not generally as busy with locals as other parts of the area can be. Plus, this is the longest stretch of beachfront in Playas del Este, so you’ll definitely find space to spread out if you’re looking for it.

There’s a small section of Playa Santa Maria del Mar known as Mi Cayito, which is known as a particularly gay-friendly beach. It’s located towards the eastern edge of the beach near Playa Boca Ciega, and locals and taxi drivers can point you in that direction should you be interested in finding it.

Beaches in Playas del Este: Playa Boca Ciega

A small beachfront between more famous Playa Santa Maria del Mar and popular Guanabo, Playa Boca Ciega is a great spot to really escape the crowds in Playas del Este.

It tends to be less populated than its neighbors, which makes it a good spot for escaping, especially if you’re traveling during a holiday, on the weekend, or during the summer (which is the only time of year that Cubans generally visit the beach).

Despite being more laid back, this beach has every amenity you could ask for, including nearby places to eat and watersport rentals for a more active beach day. The waters can get a bit wavy – we visited during the winter months and found it quite wavy – though this can be true of any beach in Playas del Este, depending on when you travel.

Read More: Best Time to Visit Cuba: Month-by-Month Breakdown for Travelers


Beaches in Playas del Este: Playa Guanabo

Best Beach for an Overnight Stay

Located at the far eastern edge of Playas del Este, Playa Guanabo is a particular favorite with plenty to offer. Beautiful sands and good areas for swimming abound; though a few areas are rocky, they’re minimal in comparison to the great areas of beach you’ll find here.

Guanabo is particularly beloved by locals. One of the public transportation routes (Bus 462) that depart from Virgen del Camino, one of the central bus hubs in the city, takes a route that ends in Guanabo, making it a particularly convenient beach in Playas del Este for many Habaneros.

Despite Guanabo’s popularity, it doesn’t feel hectic or overwhelming but more like a laid-back yet thriving beach town. Moreso than in any other destination in Playas del Este, Guanabo has plenty of restaurants and places to stay the night, which makes it by far the best choice for travelers looking to spend a night or a long weekend at the beach.

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 Playas del Este

Part of the appeal of Playas del Este is how easy it is to get here, using both public transportation options and private cars. For most travelers, the easiest and most comfortable way to get to Playas del Este is with a tourist-class hop-on, hop-off bus known as the T3, which departs from Havana Vieja.

T3 Bus to Playas del Este

The hop-on, hop-off bus known as the T3 is how most travelers get to Playas del Este. These modern, air-conditioned buses depart every half an hour from Parque Central in Old Havana, and offer a comfortable ride to the beach for just $10 USD round trip.

These buses stop at several beaches in the area. As of our last visit, the buses were stopping at Playa Tarará, Playa Megano, Hotel Tropicoco near Playa Marazul, and Hotel Atlantico.

The T3 bus also is a great option for returning from the beach. Keep in mind that the last bus back to Havana departs at 6:00 PM and can be crowded or sold out, so try to head back to the city before this time if you can.

Public Transportation to Playas del Este

There are two main public bus lines that head to Playas del Este from Havana, both costing just 2 Cuban pesos per trip.

  • From Havana Vieja, take the 400 bus line headed towards Guanabo. The bus stop is located at the roundabout near the corner of Picata and Desamparados streets, just a few blocks south of the Almacenes de San Jose. This bus passes all the beaches in Playas del Este.
  • From central or western neighborhoods in Havana like 10 de Octubre, Guanabacoa, or Regla, take the 462 bus line from Virgen del Camino. This bus heads straight to Guanabo.

Read More: Currency in Cuba: A Local’s Guide for Travelers

Taxis to Playas del Este

Shared taxis to Playas del Este depart from Parque de la Fratenidad – just south of El Capitolio in Old Havana – and should cost no more than a few dollars per person. This is a popular option if you don’t want to wait for the T3 bus, though depending on the time of the day and time of the year, it can sometimes be hard to find a car with enough seats that is headed in that direction.

Alternatively, take a private taxi! A private taxi should cost around $15 USD, though you may need to haggle a bit with the driver to decide on a fair price. Taxis can be more expensive when you return from Playas del Este and could be more challenging to find.

Keep in mind, this is the price for normal taxis, not the beautifully restored classic convertibles you’ll find parked in Old Havana near the Capitolio.

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.