Located about halfway between Havana and Trinidad, in the Bay of Pigs, Playa Larga is a perfect destination to enjoy Zapata’s lush nature, clear Caribbean waters and amazing seafood. The rich marine fauna, full of corals and exotic fish, makes it a diving paradise. Even if you’re spending just one day in Playa Larga, thanks to the relaxing ambiance of this place, you’ll surely enjoy every minute of it.
What’s the best time to visit Playa Larga?
The best time to visit Cuba in general would be during the dry season, from November to May. The summer is way too humid and warm, and during the rainy season it’s expected to rain almost every day. Keep in mind that the time around Christmas can get too busy, packed with travelers from the Northern Hemisphere.
a Few facts about Playa Larga
Playa Larga is placed at the Bahia de cochinos, or the Bay of Pigs, the place invaded by US-backed exiles in 1961. The invasion is famous because it culminated in a victory for the army and Cuban militias. Today it’s a touristy place, famous for one of the best diving spots in Cuba. Many resorts, restaurants and private accommodations can be found around the area. Located very close to the Zapata Peninsula, it’s also a great base for some environmental excursions around the area.
One Day in Playa Larga Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Playa Larga.
Start your day with a rich breakfast at casa particular
In Cuba, private accommodation known as casa particular is the most common and most affordable. Make sure to book one of these, since there are many of them in Playa Larga. It’s fully recommended to pay additional few dollars for a breakfast they offer. It mostly consists of fried eggs, ham and cheese, fresh juice and seasonal fruits, and it gives you enough energy for any activities during the day.
Casa Tiki, located very central, is a great recommendation and a very good value deal. They also serve their breakfast in a perfect ambiance, on a terrace just next to the sea.
Snorkeling or diving tour at Punta Perdiz
We already said Playa Larga is a diving paradise. It really offers unspoiled beaches, crystal clear waters and rich marine fauna. Even if you don’t have your diver’s certificate, snorkeling can be an interesting thing to do.
In Cuba, all the diving centers are owned by the state, so there’s basically just one diving center with a fixed price. It’s necessary to book your tour a day in advance, either on your own, or with the help of your casa owner. Their private bus will pick you up at your casa in the morning.
The best tour to take is the one that has two stops – one at Punta Perdiz and the othe at Cenote Mar. The latter is also famous because of the La Cueva de los Peces – the natural pool of unsalted water especially great for children.
If diving or snorkeling is not your thing, then we suggest you book a Zapata National park guided tour. The Zapata Peninsula is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, located very close to Playa Larga. It’s great for those interested in fauna and flora exploration and bird watching. Its fauna includes 160 species of birds, 31 types of reptiles and 12 varieties of mammals.
Book your tour in the morning at the Zapata information centre. The tour includes a private guide and a private driver to the park and back. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll get the chance to see pink flamingos, the ultimate attraction at the park.
It’s very important not to forget to take your mosquito repellent, since they can really ruin the whole excursion.
Afternoon at the beach
The huge, sandy beach is a great place to spend an afternoon at. Play volleyball with the locals, sunbath or just relax in the shadows of palm trees while drinking a Mojito.
If you’re hungry by now, and you surely are, head to Villa El Paraiso and have super delicious lunch for a cheap price. Their grilled lobster is a must try.
Watch the crab invasion
Playa Larga is famous for huge crab invasions. That also means you can order crabs in almost every restaurant in the area. At evenings, the streets are covered with plenty of crabs roaming freely all over the place. It’s definitely an interesting thing to see, so don’t miss a chance of checking that out.
Casa Tiki Dinner
The best place to get your delicious dinner is at Casa Tiki. They have a nice terrace overlooking the Bay of Pigs and the atmosphere in general is very nice. They serve a variety of seafood, so don’t miss the chance to try some of those. They also have super cheap and delicious fresh juices you should definitely try.
Evening with the locals
Just across Casa Tiki, there’s a great local gathering place with live music. It’s a great place to meet some locals and to learn more about their culture. There is also an outdoor bar over there, so you can order drinks and even food. Try their Mojitos, they’re really good.
Where to stay in Playa Larga?
Casa particular (Private apartments) is the best and sometimes only option when looking for a place to stay in Playa Larga. You can try to find one when you arrive, sure, but because there is a limited number of these accommodations, you should book your place online or by phone, just to be on the safe side. The prices are great, plus you can even get a breakfast for just a few dollars.
Extra tips for visiting Playa Larga
– There are two currencies used in Cuba – CUC and CUP, neither of which is international. That means you’re gonna need to change your money once you’re in the country. Make sure you don’t bring USD cause they’ll charge you additional 10%.
– When it comes to tipping in Cuba, you are quite free to leave as much as you want, although sometimes you may be charged 10% for the service. If that doesn’t happen, anywhere from 5% up will do just fine.
– Since their math can be a bit off, check your receipt in bars and restaurants. Don’t pay more than you have to.
– English is not exactly Cuba’s mother tongue. Before traveling there, learn some basic Spanish. You’ll definitely going to need it during your stay.
– Bring a mosquito repellent from your home country, since those that are sold in Cuba are not that efficient and you are really going to need it at Playa Larga.
– Don’t forget to take a sunscreen, especially if you’re planning to spend a day at the beach.
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