Western Cuba’s Best Beaches & Valleys to Explore

Western Cuba has it all: lush mountain valleys, top farm food, rivers to bathe in, horses to ride, beaches to lounge on, and sparkling seas to be dived and snorkeled… all within easy reach from Havana.


Photo © Claire Boobbyer

Western Cuba’s furthest point from Havana is a 7 hours’ drive, and packed between the capital and the tip is the stunning scenery of the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, the world’s best tobacco soil, palm-fringed beaches, caves, and a bounty of natural wonders.

Top Things to Do in Western Cuba

Birds, River Baths, Coffee & Canopy Tours

Just an hour outside of Havana is the eco-community of Las Terrazas. Here, you can hike forests past old coffee plantations, bird watch, take a canopy tour, lunch on organic vegetarian food, and cool off in the afternoon in the pools of the San Juan River.

Largest Orchid Garden in Cuba

Near Las Terrazas is the country’s largest orchid garden at Soroa, and on its hilltop is the newly-opened Castle in the Clouds hotel.

Western Cuba’s Highest Peak - Pan de Guajaibón

Fit trekkers can climb Western Cuba’s highest peak, the Pan de Guajaibón (699m). 

La Güira Park & Che Guevara’s Cuba Missile Base

A former hacienda surrounded by the forested Parque La Güira has been restored. Explore the area and head to Che Guevara’s 1962 Cuba missile base, Cueva de los Portales. 

Viñales Valley

Western Cuba’s poster attraction is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Viñales Valley.

Round-topped mountain stumps cast adrift around ruddy red soil, royal palms, farms, working oxen, and walking trails create a lush backdrop to rural Cuba.

The valley town, Viñales, is the center for accommodation, trekking, horse riding, cave visits, and more.

Cuban Cigars

The tobacco inside the world’s best cigars come from the rich soils of Western Cuba – if you haven’t heard, their cigars are legendary.

Cigar rolling, Vuelta Abajo. Photo credit: Claire Boobbyer

South of the Viñales Valley is the area known as Vuelta Abajo, the best tobacco-growing region in Cuba. Take a tour of one of the working tobacco plantations, and learn about the crop from seed to harvest, and from leaf drying to the artisanal creation of the cigar. The most famous is the Alejandro Robaina Plantation.

An outstanding tour is offered at the Finca Hector Luis Prieto (Finca Quemado de Rubi) .

Grab lunch, or stay the night in attractive riverside cabañas with crop views.

In Pinar del Río city, stop by at the Francisco Donatien Tobacco Factory to watch workers crafting the puros (Cuban cigars). 

Western Cuba’s Best Beaches

Cayo Levisa

Cabanas in Cayo Levisa. Photo credit: Claire Boobbyer

Western Cuba is fringed by beautiful, palm-tree studded beaches.

Closest to Havana is north coast Cayo Levisa, a sublime lick of white sand facing shallow turquoise sea.

The food is a let down, and the dive shop is not always working, but if you can, snag a spacious beachfront bungalow and forget about the bad taste in your mouth – it’s a real treat. 

Off-the-Beaten Track Beaches in Western Cuba

Between Cayo Levisa and Cayo Jutías, there are remote, wild, beaches such as Playa La Mulata and Playa La Altura, and a handful of B&Bs.

Cayo Jutías

Cayo Jutías is the closest beach to Viñales, and a popular day trip, where there’s a restaurant/bar and water sports center.

Walk to the eastern tip for driftwood sculptures, and see bright orange starfish in the crystal clear shallows. 

María La Gorda 

María La Gorda is a popular dive center on a beach at the western tip of the island. There’s a range of accommodation, but limited food options.

Diving here gets mixed reviews, but it’s not Cuba’s top diving spot.

Guanhacabibes Peninsula & Cabo de San Antonio

At the extreme western tip of Cuba is the Guanhacabibes Peninsula, home to sharp limestone terracing, bird life, nesting turtles, and deer.

The Playa Las Tumbas beach at Cabo de San Antonio is not remarkable. This western extremity is a hard-core trip for birders, divers, fishermen, and naturalists.

There are state-run cabañas, and a small restaurant if you do wind up there.

Heading to Cuba? Download our FREE Insider’s Guide!

Put down the cigars and step out of the vintage cars! Explore historical sites of revolution, taste peso food, or go diving among vibrant marine life.

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