Cuba has some beautiful beaches, and there are quite a few within an easy drive from Havana. MD, NM, TN and I decided to find out for ourselves one Saturday. We went out to 23rd Street or La Rampa in Vedado, which was our neighbourhood in Havana and flagged down a collective taxi to go into Old Havana to catch the bus out to Santa Maria Del Mar. When our driver heard our plans, he offered to match the bus fare to drive us out there himself. It ended up being a 30-minute drive, which was about right.
We then had a few hours at the beach before our driver returned to pick us up. This was the most crowded beach we encountered during our time in Cuba. There were very few tourists there; it seemed to be mostly local families and young people. There was great music – whatever people brought with them to the beach – and a cool vibe. We did have to pay to use the beach chairs and umbrella – a dude comes around and collects when he sees new people arrive. We paid in CUC, though I imagine we could have paid in MN if we’d thought about it.
Santa Maria Del Mar is an Atlantic beach, so the water was noticeably cooler and less salty than the Caribbean beaches we visited later. I wouldn’t have expected a big difference given the relatively short distance between the two beaches distance-wise. But as I said, the differences were noticeable.
Title quote: The failed singalong our taxi driver tried to get started