Taking the tunnel in Habana Vieja under the bay and heading east on the Vía Monumental, past El Morro and parallel to the coast, leads you straight to Cojímar, a fishing village famed for its Hemingway connection. Past here the road dips inland to become the Vía Blanca and passes Villa Panamericana, the village built to support the 1991 Pan American Games, and runs south towards Guanabacoa, a quiet provincial town with numerous attractive churches and a fascinating religious history. For many, the big attraction east of Havana will be the boisterous Playas del Este, the nearest beaches to the city 18km away, where clean sands and a lively scene draw in the crowds. In contrast, Playa Jibacoa, 32km further east, offers a quieter, less glitzy beach resort, while the inland hills of the Escaleras de Jaruco present a scenic diversion. The hippie retreat at Canasí, tucked away on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, is perfect for a back-to-basics camping experience and represents the province’s final outpost before the border with Matanzas.
The scarcity and unreliability of public transport becomes even more pronounced once outside the city proper, and you’ll need a car to see many of these sights.Read More
Playas del Este
Playas del Este
Fifteen kilometres east of Cojímar, the Vía Blanca reaches Havana’s nearest beaches – Playa Santa María del Mar, Playa Boca Ciega and Playa Guanabo, collectively known as the Playas del Este. Hugging the Atlantic coast, these three fine-sand beaches form a long, twisting ochre ribbon that vanishes in the summer beneath the crush of weekending Habaneros and tourists. There’s not a whole lot to distinguish between the beaches, geographically, although as a general rule the sand is better towards the western end.