A guide to combining sightseeing and the beach in Cuba including our top recommendation.
Cuba is known throughout the world for its fascinating, historic towns and rich cultural history, as well as its numerous beautiful beaches.
So how does one go about combining the two?
Havana has its own great beaches
If you’re remotely serious about taking in the history and culture of Cuba then you can’t not spend time in Havana, the island’s vibrant capital city (Click here for our detailed Havana Travel Guide).
Those clients who are really short of time may be surprised to learn that, just 20 minutes’ drive east of the city, are the beautiful, sandy white beaches known as Playas de Este.
Being so close to the city, it would be easy enough to spend the morning taking in the history, architecture and museums of the city before jumping in a taxi and spending the afternoon relaxing by the beach.
Facilities at the beach are relatively limited although there are a spattering of bars, restaurants and some communal showers. Most taxi drivers will know the best place to drop tourists off.
Anyone interested in experiencing ‘the real Cuba’ will also be delighted to learn that Playas de Este has very few hotels and is very much the playground of Habaneros; it is therefore at its busiest over the weekend when people watching is half the fun.
Cuba twin centre holidays
Many visitors to Cuba wish to spend time in Havana followed by time relaxing at a beach hotel, aka a twin or two centre holiday.
The vast majority of Cuba’s beach hotels are located along its north coast, running east from Havana, all the way from nearby Jibacoa (pictured below) and Varadero to distant Guardalavaca and including many of its famous Cayos en-route.
While there is no questioning the beauty of the beaches along the north coast, there is an important caveat that prospective visitors should be aware of.
Although many visitors are happy to treat the beach part of the holiday as just that, a beach holiday, those wishing to continue sightseeing while based at the beach will find options at these north coast resorts to be very limited.
Approximately five hours drive from Havana, and located on the island’s south coast, the small town of Trinidad is a colonial gem and UNESCO World Heritage site.
An hour to the west of Trinidad is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, the city of Cienfuegos, while to the immediate east is the attractive colonial town of Sancti Spiritus and the Valley of the Sugar Mills.
Finally, and most pertinently to the subject of this feature, approximately 20 minutes’ drive from town are a series of picture postcard beaches with, at the time of writing, four beach hotels.
Quite simply, not only is Trinidad a wonderful destination in which to combine relaxing at the beach with all manner of cultural and nature based activities, it is also the only place in Cuba in which such a combination is remotely viable.
Until very recently, the state of accommodation at the beach meant that visitors had to accept a large degree of compromise, ie lovely beaches and lots to see and do but lousy hotels.
Thankfully, things are beginning to change. The Memories Trinidad del Mar (previously the Brisas Trinidad) has certainly improved since changing hands. However, it is the opening of the new Melia Trinidad hotel that means that the area finally has a hotel that we can wholeheartedly recommend.
To discuss your plans for a tailor made holiday to Cuba, either call us on 01580 764796 or fire off an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Travel Beyond The Ordinary