Two extensive archipelagos of low coral islands run almost the entire length of Cuba's northern
coast between Havana and Holguín, facing the Florida keys and the Bahamas-and yielding little to either for gorgeous beaches.
Jibacoa suits a short stay at the end of a holiday.While it is just 60km from Havana and handy for the international airport, local options beyond the few hotels are limited. The beach is lovely, backed by trees and sheltered by coral
reefs that are accessible for snorkellers and divers.
The long-established tourist town of Varadero is set beside 25km of postcard-perfect white sands and turquoise waters that has drawn large numbers of visitors for decades. Charter packages arrive at its own airport, offering a
fortnight at the beach without ever venturing beyond. Connections to Havana airport are quick and easy so, if you like its touristic style, Varadero works well for just a night or two at the beach to round off a trip mainly exploring the rest of the island. For a longer spell it is better to travel a little further.
The Northern Cays
Along the Archipelago de Sabana, the islands known as the Northern Cays have only recently been developed for visitors, generally in a more considered way and a smaller scale. A narrow causeway close to the attractive town of
Remedios runs out to Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Ensenachos, and Cayo Santa Maria. Villa Las Brujas is the smallest and most likeable of the 6 hotels on the islands, much further out on Cayo Santa Maria there is a behemoth offering a staggering 925 rooms.