Playas del Este picture
tupungato/Getty Images

Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Beaches, Recreation, Swimming/Pools, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

After a couple of days touring the capital, you may find yourself in need of a break from the hustle and bustle. If so, seek a side trip to Playas del Este, a set of beaches located about 11 miles east of Havana. This 5-mile stretch of shoreline starts at Bacuranao and ends at Playa Jibacoa, with about six other picturesque beaches with turquoise-colored water in between.

If you're looking for peace and quiet, Bacuranao and Playa Tarará are your best bets, although the latter requires a small entry fee. For livelier (and free) atmospheres, look to Playa Boca Ciega or Guanabo, where you'll find the highest concentration of locals. Mi Cayito and Boca Ciega are popular with LGBT travelers while those with families will likely enjoy the amenity-clad Playa Santa Maria, where the majority of the area's resorts are located. Playa Jibacoa is also considered a peaceful beach, but unlike the other resort beaches, it offers more things to enjoy than just water sports rentals. On land, visitors can traverse trails from the beach to the nearby backcountry; underwater there are coral reefs to explore. What's more, Havana Club rum is made in the town in which Playa Jibacoa resides. 

The majority of travelers who visited Playas del Este found the beaches to be beautiful and relaxing, with a good mix of locals and visitors. Others, however, mentioned some of the beaches were dirty, with trash scattered throughout and no garbage bins. But that all depends on where you go. The more resort-equipped the area is, the cleaner the beaches will likely be. It's important to note that unlike other beach resort areas in the Caribbean, these beaches aren't busy year-round and can be quiet outside of the summer months. Recent visitors also noted that weekends can be packed, and suggest that if you want more sand to yourself, you should visit during the week.

To get to Playas del Este, it's best to take a taxi or get a ticket to the hop-on, hop-off bus, which stops in the Santa Maria resort area. Visitors can also grab the T3 public bus at Parque Central in Havana, but keep in mind the last bus back is at 6 p.m.

See all Hotels in Havana »

More Best Things To Do in Havana

El Malecón1 of 8
Old Havana (Habana Vieja)2 of 8
Type
Time to Spend
#1 El Malecón

To tourists, Old Havana may be the city's heart and soul, but to Cubans, it's El Malecón. Technically speaking, El Malecón is a 5-mile-long boulevard that stretches along the water, with Havana Bay on one side and the edges of Old Havana, Vedado and Central Havana on the other, depending on where you are. But metaphorically speaking, El Malecón is both a meeting point and place of refuge for locals looking to catch a breath of fresh air after a long day or night.

During the day, you're likely to see some residents along with a tourist or two, but at night, especially come sundown, is when you'll see flocks of Cubans holding loved ones close as they watch the sunset, crowds of young people laughing and drinking, fishermen waiting for a catch or even a small dance party. And sometimes, you may not see anybody at all. On particularly stormy days, waves crash up against El Malecón and much of the sea spills onto the roads, making for a great photo op.

Read more
Buena Vista Images/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Havana »

Explore More of Havana

When purchasing from our site, we may earn commissions. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

30 Amazing Caribbean Islands to Visit

It's time to plan your next tropical getaway.

Holly JohnsonAugust 8, 2019

The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20

See which airline and hotel loyalty programs come out on top.

Erin ShieldsAugust 6, 2019

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

Christine SmithAugust 6, 2019

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

Lyn MettlerJuly 26, 2019

Traveling With Toddlers: 16 Tips to Make Your Vacation Go Smoothly

These expert travel hacks guarantee a happy trip for the whole family.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 25, 2019

The 11 Best New Orleans Ghost Tours

Hear chilling tales of the city's paranormal activity on one of these guided tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 25, 2019

The 10 Best Seattle Boat Tours

Take in the Emerald City's top sights from the water.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 24, 2019

The 6 Best Maui Helicopter Tours

Combine sightseeing with a breathtaking adventure on one of these flights.

Gwen PratesiJuly 23, 2019

The 7 Best San Francisco Boat Tours

Take in the city's major sights by water with one of these excursions.

Holly JohnsonJuly 22, 2019

How to Pack a Suitcase: 16 Tips and Expert Tricks for Perfectly Packed Luggage

Take the stress out of vacation prep with these handy recommendations.

Lyn MettlerJuly 22, 2019