- Playa Paraíso and Playa Sirena: These two connected beaches are the most outstanding of the uniformly spectacular stretches of sand along the length of Cayo Largo del Sur. Located on the more protected western end of the island, these are broad expanses of glistening, fine white sand, bordering the clear Caribbean Sea. There's a simple beachside restaurant on Playa Paraíso, and not much else here -- and that's a large part of their charm.
- Varadero: This is Cuba's premier beach-resort destination, and it ranks right up there with the best in the Caribbean. We personally prefer some of the island's less-developed stretches of sand. But if you're looking for a well-run all-inclusive resort loaded with amenities and activities, Varadero is a good choice. The 21km (13 miles) of nearly uninterrupted beach here is fabulous.
- Playa Ensenachos and Playa Mégano: Located on the tiny islet of Cayo Ensenachos, which is part of la Cayería del Norte, these protected crescents of sand drop off very gently, allowing bathers to wade 90m (295 ft.) or more out into the calm, crystal-clear waters. You'll have to shell out big bucks to visit these beaches, either staying at the Occidental Royal Hideaway Ensenachos or paying its hefty day-use fee. Both of these beaches are astoundingly beautiful, but we slightly prefer Playa Mégano.
- Playa Ancón: A wonderful white-sand beach and close runner-up to the more spectacular beaches of Cuba, attractive Ancón has one huge advantage: It's just minutes from one of the country's true treasures, Trinidad, and perfectly positioned for those who'd like a bit of colonial culture with their sun and sand (or vice versa). With good diving and one very nice resort hotel, it's sure to be built up soon.
- Cayos Coco and Guillermo: These tiny cays off the north coast, separated from the Cuban mainland by a long man-made causeway, are tucked into shallow waters that flow into the Atlantic. There's barely a sign of the "real Cuba," but what you do get is stunning, unspoiled beaches, excellent diving, and a full contingent of watersports. The most beautiful beach is Playa Pilar at the western tip of Guillermo.
- Cayo Jutías: Beyond the tourist section, walk for miles along virginal sands backed by beautiful driftwood sculptures before reaching what's known as Playa de las Estrellas del Mar (Starfish Beach), where enormous burnt-orange starfish can be seen in the shallows.
- Guardalavaca: Probably Cuba's prettiest resort area, Guardalavaca is a hot spot, but not overheated like Varadero. The area, a prime archaeological zone of pre-Columbian Cuba, is one of lush tropical vegetation, brilliant white sands, and clear turquoise waters. Long stretches of coastline are interrupted by charming little cove beaches, and some of Cuba's finest resort hotels are here.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.