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Our obsession with this colourful, sun-drenched Caribbean country sees no sign of abating. To go the extra mile in beating the crowds, we’ve compiled a list of the most beautiful beaches which aren’t lined with resorts but do tick all the boxes – from diving to indie vibes and waterfront lobster dinners.
1. Jibacoa, Mayabeque
This former fishing village an hour and a half from Havana is a diver’s nirvana. Choose between two shipwrecks for underwater exploration, including a sunken cargo and military ship still kitted out with ladders and ropes, before dropping towel on the beach – where you will pretty much have the whole place to yourself. Stock up on snacks and cerveza at the shop across the street and bask in the sweet stillness all afternoon.
2. Cayo Levisa, Pinar del Río
The 35-minute boat ride from Palma Rubia is more than worth your while to lie on one of Cuba’s little-trodden beaches. Akin to jetting off to your own private island, you’ll share these sandy stretches with only a lucky few. Book a bungalow stay at Cayo Levisa’s only hotel, or – if time restricts you – pop over for a day trip. Part of the Colorados Archipelago, this place is renowned for its unusual black coral – divers pack your PADI licence.
3. Playa Larga, Caléton
Caléton is a heady blend of Tulum and Ibiza, attracting an clued-up bohemian crowd that you’ll want to join in the sunshine. There’s a stretch of low-key beach shacks along the sand here; show up at golden hour and stay past dinnertime. If you’re into the barefoot and fancy-free scene, this is the place to stick around for live music and dancing on the beach among creative, tousled-haired beauties.
4. Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo
Known as Hemingway’s favourite place to go fishing in Cuba, Playa Pilar is one of the country’s best jumping-off points. Set out to sea or find an untouched spread of sand among to dunes suitable for picnicking. Once you’ve run out of cold drinks, check out Ranchon Playa Pilar for excellent lobster. If you get bored of bathing and reading the latest on Justin and Hailey, go in search of flamingos – you’ll spot them peeking out from behind mangroves.
5. Playa Ancon, Trinidad
Just 12km away from Trinidad, a colonial town known for its brightly hued facades, this beach is one of the south coast’s most noteworthy. With pearly sand and a tie-dye abyss stretching out as far as the eye can see, it’s one of the best stops to soak up a sunset. Check out the marina for chartered catamaran trips out to sea.
6. María La Gorda, Guanahacabibes Peninsula
With some of the clearest water in all of Cuba, it’s no wonder that María La Gorda is one of the country’s most sought-after diving destinations. Plotted on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, this beach is part of a UNESCO-recognised International Biosphere Reserve, thanks to its intricate coral networks and pristine coastline. The area is also a former pirate hideout; its storied location just makes it all the more appealing.
7. Cayo Jutías, Pinar del Río
This strip of sand curves along three kilometres of Cuban coastline. Mangroves and driftwood dot the beach and the water that stretches out from it ranges from mint-green to baby-blue hues. If photogenic scenes and serene surroundings are what you’re looking for, make this one of your first stops – provided you’re anywhere near Viñales.
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