Although Havana is right on the water, there aren’t really any beaches to go to right in the city. Well, none that we came across at least. After some research, I decided that the best option would be to go to Santa Maria del Mar. It’s only about 20-30 minutes away by car, so it’s an easy day trip. Another option I considered was Veradero. It’s two hours away, so definitely doable for a day, but since there were no rental cars available in Havana for the dates we were there, I decided on Santa Maria del Mar. It was 25CUC in a taxi. It probably could have been cheaper, but we didn’t negotiate.
Before we went to the beach, we went on a mission to find some sunscreen. We didn’t bring any with us since we didn’t check a bag, so we figured we’d grab some in Cuba. Horrible mistake. If you’re going to Havana, BRING SUNSCREEN. You will not find it there. Luckily there was some in a little hotel shop at the beach. Well, the only shop that was in Santa Maria, actually. I brought two bathing suits to Cuba and this is the one that just felt perfectly Cuban, so I was super excited to wear it. I didn’t really bring a cover up and since there wasn’t much of a plan, I wore an outfit on top of my suit.
The beach was absolutely packed. Everyone was prepared with beach umbrellas or makeshift shade coverings made of sticks and a bed sheet or tarp. There were tons of people flying kites, listening to music, and drinking on the beach. All the people there seemed to be locals, which I loved. On the road behind the beach was a long row of outdoor food stands selling smoked meat, snacks, and of course, cerveza. We stopped at a bar right before we left and cooled down with a nice beer. These places definitely weren’t the most luxurious, but it felt authentically Cuba, which is exactly what I wanted!