Cuban Beaches, a Divine Treasure
By Robert F. Campos, Photos: Publicitur
Of Cuba’s 588km of beaches, 256km form part of twelve major tourist regions with good hotel and nautical facilities, in line with recreational development plans.
Cuban beaches, besides being leisure locations for sunbathing, reading under a parasol or simply sleeping, also have infrastructures in place for practicing water sports such as sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving.
The beach is without a doubt Cuba’s principal form of recreation, and high temperatures in the months of July and August give beaches a particular boost with more local visitors.
Among Cuba’s best-known beaches, some are found as an extension of Havana, the capital. They consist of a special stretch of sand and sea, 20 minutes by car from any hotel in the center of the city.
Passing through the tunnel of Havana, several place names appear against a coastal backdrop where the neighbourhoods of La Habana del Este, Alamar and Cojímar are found. Little can be seen beyond the sandy silhouette. We’re talking about 18 kilometers of resorts with good hotel infrastructure and recreation, especially water sports. The beaches of Tarará, Bacuranao, Mégano, Boca Ciega, Santa María del Mar, Guanabo make up the same coast line, Arroyo Bermejo.
Varadero, however, is the main attraction. Located in the western province of Matanzas, it is without a doubt the most famous and distinguished Cuban resort, at least that is the opinion of many foreigners who visit Cuba frequently. It is the Island’s sun and beach tourist destination par excellence, with a great hotel infrastructure and well set up water sports facilities.
Varadero is on Hicacos peninsula, its tip being the northernmost point of the Island (Punta de Hicacos), though not of the archipelago - the Cruz del Padre key is just north of it.
This beach, also known as Playa Azul (Blue Beach), is located 140 kilometers east of the capital. In Varadero there are three marinas: Dársena Varadero, Chapelín and Gaviota. The latter is at the end of the Peninsula and is currently the largest, with a pier and impressive accommodations (Gaviota Marina Varadero), popular for yachting, sailing and catamaran excursions as well as scuba diving.
Interestingly, the extension of the Hicacos Peninsula is made up of at least 10 minor keys, At one, Cayo Monito, colonies of sea gulls nest each year.
And what to say of the central-northern zone for recreational activities...Cayo Coco is at the head of a series of very popular islets. The area is commercially called Jardines del Rey. In addition to Cayo Coco, there are Coco Guillermo, Romano and Paredón Grande keys. One cannot forget the spectacular white sands of Cayo Santa María and adjacent islets: Ensenachos, Las Brujas and Francés. Wildlife is another unique attraction that includes some 15,000 flamingo pairs plus other animals typical of this area and a coral reef accessible by boat.
Cayo Coco covers 370 square kilometers, and is connected to the mainland of the province of Ciego de Ávila via a 17 km causeway, which is called a pedraplén in Cuba.
Cayo Santa María is smaller (21.7 square kilometers), but no less attractive, and is linked to the province of Villa Clara mainland by a 48 km causeway that deserves the ‘Puente de Alcántara’ prize for special care for the environment taken in its design and execution.
The list continues with Saint Lucía in the eastern province of Camagüey. Guardalavaca, Bariay, Esmeralda and Pesquero in Holguín, the Marea del Portillo and Farallones in Granma, María Aguilar and Ancón in Trinidad, and Sirena in Cayo Largo del Sur.
And perhaps this seafaring closes at Daiquiri and Baconao, in Santiago de Cuba or Bibijagua, with black sands, in the Isla de la Juventud. The full enjoyment of Cuban beaches arrives with summer although throughout the year they are an exquisite attraction for locals and foreign visitors alike.