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Playa Giron (Cuba): incredible turquoise beaches

Playa Giron, does that mean anything to you? No ?
And the Bay of Pigs?
Yes, this is where the aborted landing of the anti-Castro Cuban exiles trained by the CIA took place. But we did not come here to revise history, just to enjoy its dream beaches.

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

How to get there?

Playa Giron is a small village nestled in the Bay of Pigs. It is only 70km from Cienfuegos as the crow flies, but the direct road is so bad that it is necessary to make a small detour. All of a sudden, the route passes at 100km.
Our casa in Cienfuegos found us a cab colectivo for 15 CUC/person. At the beginning, we were supposed to go to the bus terminal with the owner and look for a cab, but the owner was so nice that he went there himself by bike; and the cab picked us up directly at the casa. The counterpart is that we couldn’t negotiate the price. I think we got a correct price, considering the distance.
We could have taken the bus Viazul at 8:30 am for 7CUC/person but well, it is a little too early, especially if it is necessary to be present 1 hour before the departure.
We travel for 1h30 in an old American car, super comfortable and spacious, with 2 other tourists. On the way, we notice that many farmers let the rice seeds dry on the road. The cars try not to crush the rice, but when there is traffic in the opposite direction, it is difficult not to run over it.

Day 1 :

Playa Giron is a very small town, I have seen other Viazul buses stop there but there doesn’t seem to be any collector at that time. So, remember to book a casa when you come here.
We are hosted by Yaya de Hostal El Castillito. She speaks super good English. It’s a casa that looks a bit like a hotel because there are a few people employed here to take care of us, including a chef who cooks divinely well.
Following Yaya’s advice, we walk to Playa Los Cocos, which, as its name suggests, has plenty of coconut trees.
Tip: spot the bar on the beach. This is where the beach is the most beautiful, without algae, with several sandbanks in the middle of (dead) corals. Snorkelling here isn’t at all interesting.
We land under a tree (we carefully avoid the coconut trees for fear of getting a coconut on our head) and spend 3 hours there to swim and watch the sea. The water is a little cold (April 2017) but as soon as we manage to enter it, all is well.
JB finishes his cigar, a mojito in hand, his feet fanned out in front of a transparent turquoise water. Life is too hard!
We notice that almost all of our towel neighbors came by rental car (something we haven’t seen in other cities). The rental cars are super modern, even if they are small. We are a bit surprised to see that because it isn’t that difficult to get to Playa Giron by public transport. Maybe the lack of information about Cuba makes people choose the easiest but also the most expensive solution (100USD/day for car rental)?
Tired of the sun and the wind, we return to our casa, passing by the famous Playa Giron, just in front of the only hotel of the city with the same name. The beach seems superb to us, but the view is spoiled by a breakwater pier. This is THE beach where the anti-Castro mercenaries landed during the attempted coup d’état of the CIA.
Speaking of history, we are motivated to go to the Museo de Playa Giron, where 2 CUC allow us to access the rooms with objects & photos related to the landing. We also see there a plane used by the Cuban Air Force.
In front of the museum there is a supermarket with few supplies but which requires 3 employees !
On this, we walk back to the casa and enjoy the superb dinner that the chef prepares for 10CUC/person.

Day 2 :

After a hearty breakfast, on the advice of Yaya, we leave for Punta Perdiz, 12km from Playa Giron. We wait for the shuttle / tourist bus of Guama Tour (on the bus it is marked Transtur) at 10am next to our casa.
Tip : This shuttle is mentioned in the Lonely Planet but the schedules have changed since then. Ask your casa the exact time of the shuttle.
The driver is nice, he stops when we signal him when we aren’t in front of an official stop. 15 minutes later, he drops us off at Punta Perdiz and tells us that today, the bus will come back to pick us up at 4pm (schedules change from one day to another). We are the only ones to get off at Punta Perdiz.
Punta Perdiz is a restaurant offering an all inclusive formula at 15 CUC/person. There is an open bar (alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks) all day long and a buffet between noon and 3pm. We also have access to a very beautiful beach with deckchairs etc… A diving club is present and snorkelling equipment can be rented.
We were not very sure we wanted to pay the 15CUC. Yaya told us that the beach: Playa el Tanque, 200m away, was exactly the same, and free. However, when we arrived on the spot, and saw beautiful deckchairs facing the sea (indispensable when there is no sand), the 15CUC make sense.
The employee of the restaurant who presents us with the all inclusive offer seems very, very proud of his restaurant. It’s nice to see people so involved and motivated!
On the spot, there are already about fifteen tourists, apparently many came by cab (20 CUC the round trip, waiting included), the rest via an organized tour.
Hmmm… when you think that we paid 3CUC/person to come here with the shuttle! Once again, it just means that the good plans exist in Cuba, it is really necessary to insist near its casa to be aware of it.
Excuse me, I’m getting lost… How can I describe this beach to you? Imagine the most beautiful beach, the most paradisiacal, the most transparent and turquoise water you have ever seen! It is this one!
It is PERFECT! In front of the bar (at will hihihi), the water is shallow (1m) and this part of the beach is full of fish. We are in a bay so there is no wave. When we move away a little bit, the depth varies between 2 and 5m, there are 2 spots full of fishes too. We can see a big band of fish swimming, eating. The black corals aren’t very nice, many are dead, but the fish are worth it. We are well in the Caribbean! I have never yet seen such a transparent water (even at 5m, we can see to the bottom, the water remains turquoise). We brought our own snorkelling equipment to Cuba (what a good decision!) and we enjoyed it too much!
We can’t see well, but the floating shadows are fishes 😀
From noon on, the buffet is served. We are hyper surprised to see about fifty tourists invading the place. 7 tourist buses are parked in front of the place. What happens? It would seem that they are tourists who came to Cuba in organized trip. Only a part of them will stay on the beach to swim, so we are quiet all the same, lying on our deckchairs in front of the sea.
I wish I could relive this moment as many times as I would like because the beauty of the place is indescribable. It is the most beautiful beach we have ever seen in our lives (even if I secretly hope that we will see other more beautiful ones, in Cuba or elsewhere) and yet we have already seen some very beautiful ones (Thailand, Philippines, Tahiti, Brazil, …)
Personally, I would like the turquoise water of this beach, add the sharks and rays of Moorea, the fine white sand of Mui Ne, the warmth of the beaches in Asia, the Thai coconut palms, the Australian corals and TADAM! This is the best beach in the world!
It is 4 pm, we take the shuttle reluctantly. I hope that the beach of Playa Larga (our next destination) will be also beautiful, if not we will return here 😀

Part 2: Practical Tips


184 CUC for two, 2 nights, transport included

  • Transportation

    • 15CUC/person by cab colectivo
    • 3CUC/person shuttle to Punta Perdiz

  • Accommodation: 30CUC/night at El Costillito
  • Food

    • A breakfast at 5CUC/person
    • 2 dinners at the casa: 10CUC-15CUC/person (15CUC for lobster, 13CUC for shrimps)
    • 1.5L water bottle: 1CUC at the supermarket
    • Right of access to the beach + all-inclusive at Punta Perdiz: 15CUC/person
    • Mojito on the coconut beach: 2CUC

  • Visits: 2CUC/entry to the museum

How to get to Playa Giron?

  • From Playa Larga: take the shuttle (the Cubans call it “bus turistico”). 2 departures/day. 3CUC/person
  • From Cienfuegos: 2 Viazul buses/day pass through Playa Giron, one of which leaves Cienfuegos at 8:30 am. 7CUC/person
  • From Havana: 3 Viazul buses/day stop at Playa Giron on the way to Trinidad.
  • From Vinales: there is no direct bus. You have to take the bus Vinales -> Cienfuegos (there are 2 per day) and ask to be dropped off at Jaguey Grande. Then take a cab colectivo to Playa Giron (65km).

Info about the shuttle/bus hop-on hop-off of Guama Tour (with Transtur logo on it).

  • 3CUC/person (to be paid directly to the driver)
  • One goes up and down as one pleases during one day.
  • The route of the shuttle is as follows

    • Go (2 departures/day): Hotel Playa Giron -> Caleta Buena -> Hotel Playa Giron (10h05) -> Punta Perdiz (10h20) -> Cueva de los Peces -> Playa Larga (10h30) -> Crocodile Farm -> Boca de Guama
    • Return (2 departures/day) : same stops but in the opposite direction

To see in the surroundings of Playa Giron :

  • Caleta Buena (8km from Playa Giron): a beautiful beach with access right to the all-inclusive beach (buffet, open bar) at 15CUC. Snorkelling possible but less beautiful than Punta Perdiz. Site served by the shuttle
  • Punta Perdiz (12km from Playa Giron): where we went, MAGNIFICENT beach with access right to the all-inclusive beach (buffet, open bar) at 15CUC/person. Super snorkelling spot. Site served by the shuttle
  • Cueva de los Peces: a huge flooded techtonic fault (or cenote), 70m deep. Great snorkelling/diving spot. At equal distance between Playa Larga and Playa Giron but the transport is easier from Playa Giron
  • Crocodile farm. Entrance 6CUC. Site served by the shuttle
  • Excursion “Enigma de la Roca” at 15CUC, proposed by the casa, lunch included. Walk in the forest, looking for animals, swimming in the Cueva de los Peces.
  • Birdwatching (bird watching): 15 CUC, proposed by the casa

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