We’ve gone ahead and put the most backpacker-friendly and best beaches in Cuba into one lovely list. All you need to do is find your flip-flops and hit the sand!

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Let’s get one thing clear straight away – Cuba isn’t called the “pearl of the Caribbean” for nothing. Scattered all along the coast of this dreamy island, you find hundreds of white-sand beaches, turquoise water, and glorious Caribbean sun.

Of these many beaches, there’s quite a few resorts in between. For an independent budget backpacker, that’s not exactly ideal. On the other hand, it would be a crime not to check out at least one beach while backpacking in Cuba.

That’s why we’ve put together this little list of 8 backpacker-friendly Cuban beaches. We’re talking laid-back vibe, not a whole lot of tourists, and perhaps even a touch of authenticity (we all love that trigger word, don’t we?). So pack yourself a beach bag (don’t forget a bottle of local rum) and get ready to hit the 8 best beaches in Cuba!

Best Beaches In Cuba

  1. Playa Ancón

  2. Varadero

  3. Playa Los Flamencos

  4. Playa Pilar

  5. Cayo Levisa
  6. Playa Paraíso

  7. Playa Sirena

  8. Bahía de Baracoa

Lazing on one of the best beaches in Cuba Playa Ancon

1. Playa Ancón

Ancón isn’t the most backpacker-friendly beach in Cuba. Yeah, we know, great way to start off the list. The thing is that, although Ancón definitely does attract a fair amount of tourists, it’s still got a sort-of-authentic feel to it.

The natural surroundings haven’t been altered too much and you’ll see shrubs creeping down to the lapping waves here and there. As for the beach itself, it’s pretty sweet. In fact, some even go as far as to call Ancón the best beach on Cuba’s southern coast. We don’t know about that, but it’s not a bad spot to kick back. Oh, and if you like a little action with your tanning session, the scuba diving and snorkelling in the area is also worth a go.

At 40 minutes from Trinidad, Playa Ancón can be an easy day trip. If you want to hang around for a while, you can also get a room in a casa particular in the nearby villages of La Boca and Casilda.

Further reading: The Ultimate Cuba Backpacking Guide

The resort hub of Varadero is one of the best beaches in Cuba

2. Varadero

You know what? While we’re talking about not-so-backpacker-friendly beaches, let’s just get one more out of the way. Varadero is the epitome of a Caribbean resort town and pretty much as far from a laid-back vibe as you can get. This list just keeps getting better and better, right?

But here’s the deal. The reason we include Varadero is that, well, you can’t really have a list of the best beaches in Cuba without at least mentioning it. Varadero is one of the largest resort towns in the Caribbean and, if anything, it could give you a better understanding of Cuba’s booming all-inclusive industry. Take it as a cultural experience more than an authentic beach paradise.

If you do end up going to Varadero, you’ll get the whole shebang. Fancy hotel room, nice pool, spotless beach, you name it. But be warned: with prices starting at $80 a night, Varadero will take a serious toll on your food budget. If you’re heading further east, Guardalavaca is another classic Cuban resort town.

Further reading: 11 tips on how to travel Cuba on a budget

Playa Los Flamencos is one of the best beaches in Cuba

3. Playa Los Flamencos

Alright, let’s move on to some of the good stuff now. Playa Los Flamencos is located in Cayo Coco which is – again – a bit of a resort hub. The area’s three main beaches are all lined with popular hotels, but that’s where Los Flamencos comes into the picture.

Away from the busy beaches on the eastern end of the key, you find this charming and quiet corner. The stretch of beach is shorter than the main ones, but it’s got just the same beauty. In most places, the palm trees grow almost right next to the shore and the water is crystal-clear. There’s also an excellent snorkelling spot about 200 meters out with corrals and all sorts of relatives of good old Nemo swimming around.

Further reading: The 5 Best Places To Visit In Cuba

Playa Pilar in Cuba

4. Playa Pilar