Santa María del Mar

Have some fun on Havana's sandy beaches.

Enjoy the sandy beaches of Havana

Rise early and head to Playa Santa María, a shimmering, four-mile-long white beach about a 25-minute ride from Havana. You can also take the Habana Bus Tour from Parque Central or take a taxi. On weekends, get there by 10 a.m. to secure a prime spot; by noon the beach will be chock-a-block with locals. By 2 p.m. beach-goers are cheek-to-jowl, a band is playing, and people-watching just doesn't get any better.

Thatched-roof beachside restaurants, called "ranchitas," serve cold "cervezas" (beers) and simple seafood lunches. At an affordable price, you can get the fresh grilled red snapper or lobster — both come with rice, homemade potato chips and salad. Keep an eye out for the fellow selling fresh coconuts carved into rustic goblets. Order one and he'll carve a drinking hole out of the top. Customers then sip the coconut water, which he promptly replaces with rum. Seeking a more active day at the beach? Paddle boats and Hobie-Cat rentals are available.

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Santa María del Mar 10100 Havana Cuba

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