The palm-strewn, powdery beaches of Cuba are world-famous. Whether you’re searching for blissful isolation on the rugged Atlantic coast or coral cays in the Caribbean Sea, the best way to explore is by sailboat. Read on to discover our rundown of the finest sandy coves.
Ditch the tourist mob by hiring a yacht with SamBoat to discover these spectacular cays.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Varadero is Cuba’s beach pin-up. 13km (8mi) of buttery sand unfurls along the Atlantic shore shelving into the shallowest of blue seas. Some mornings the sea is so calm, the sky is perfectly mirrored in the water. Varadero is 145km (90mi) east of Havana and is lined by large numbers of isolated all-inclusive resorts. From luxury to more modest, you’ll find plenty of choices. The town of Varadero, west of the resorts, is busy with shops, B&Bs, craft stalls, restaurants and bars.
Playa Esmeralda is a gentle curve of flour-soft white sand found in eastern Cuba. Lounge under thatched umbrellas in this secluded haven that faces turquoise and indigo seas, then discover the best part of the region: its secret coves. Live that castaway fantasy on semi-private tiny beaches, shaded only by the branches of wild sea grape trees.
Cuba’s Gardens of the King are a necklace of offshore coral islands, bathed in periwinkle blue waters. Dozens of all-inclusive hotels stretch along its white north coast beaches. Travelling with kids? Pitch bucket and spades on Playa Larga, an eastern sweep of picturesque sand with a small limestone headland. Kids love to splash about in this shallow sheltered corner.
Looking for a small island paradise? Cayo Levisa’s perfect swathe of virgin sand is one of two popular islands off the western coast of Cuba. Backed by mangroves and lined by palm trees, it attracts sun-seekers looking for a remote getaway and divers who discover its underworld first explored by writer Ernest Hemingway in the 1940s. Take a day trip by boat, easily arranged from Viñales.
Curving like a prawn’s tail out of the base of the Isle of Youth is the outstandingly beautiful Punta Francés. Snorkel or dive with rays and turtles offshore, find the nests of American crocodiles in the forest fringes of the beach, and search the limestone coves for the ancient lairs of pirates. Fought over and then largely forgotten, Cuba’s Treasure Island is isolated and travelling to this sandy speck is a challenge from the mainland. The beach is only accessible by boat.
If you love good food, make a beeline to Playa Maguana in the wild east of Cuba. Right on the custard-coloured sand is a beach hut serving up cocktails and fresh snapper. Tuck in while relaxing in Adirondack chairs. Still hungry as you gaze at the teal-green Atlantic? Hawkers will sell you a local candy – cucurucho – mashed coconut, almonds, sugar and honey, wrapped in a palm-leaf cone.
Playa Pilar widens along the far western tip of Cayo Guillermo in Cuba’s Gardens of the King. No longer a virgin beach but no less beautiful: scudding clouds, royal-blue skies, terns hanging on the breeze and soft sand slip into a shallow, shimmering sea. After fishing like Hemingway in the ocean blue, searching for birds, or soaking up the sun’s rays on the sand, head to the cute beach bar for piña coladas.
Climb aboard a catamaran and sail through transparent seas, wrinkled with tiny sandbanks, to Cayo Rico, cast adrift from Cayo Largo in the coral-studded Caribbean Sea. It’s a mini nature reserve: you’ll spot stingrays, iguanas, jutías (large whiskered tree-loving rodents), birds of prey and orange starfish in the shallows. After your sun-soaked safari, grab beers from the only bar on the island, and slumber on sunbeds at the water’s edge.
In a tiny corner of eastern Cuba, you’ll find animals of the African plains. This curious Noah’s Ark of ostrich, zebra and antelope roam the feathery grasses of Cayo Saetía. Join a safari in an army jeep to spot the wild creatures, then head to the island’s best little beach with a welcome thatched bar and restaurant. No wheels? Jump aboard a yacht and sail into the bay where Cayo Saetía’s beach and the sapphire sea is bookended by giant limestone boulders.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Jack Guy.
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