When it comes to beach blanket time, Havana doesn’t supply the beautiful sands of Verader or Holguin. In fact, within the city itself there is no public beach – the nearest is is in Havana del Este.Nonetheless, there’s lots of opportunity to enjoy Cuba’s sunshine in your new bathing ensemble.
Within walking distance of Havana’s central landmark, the Capitolio building, there are four fabulous pools located in hotels. While it isn’t the beach experience, there’s something very special about sub-tropical splendour right in the centre of the Caribbean’s largest city.
Three of the pools I visited are on rooftops and along with aquatic fun, the panoramic view from any of the three is very impressive. Recently Beyonce made the Hotel Saratoga even more famous, but we don’t know if she wore her bikini to the Saratoga’s rooftop. It’s a beautiful pool with an adjacent cafe. There’s a smallish gym just beside, but it’s the beautiful poool itself and the spectacular view that surrounds it that will surprise you.
The best known rooftop pool is atop the Parque Centrale, the capital’s most prominent downtown hotel that draws visitors from all over the world. Once again, the rooftop view is stunning. The pool here is busy but there are plenty of lounge chairs – it’s a perfect place to put on some sunblock and catch the rays.
A very attractive rival for the Parque Centrale’s excellent pool is the other pool atop the Annex at the Parque Centrale. The Annex is a somewhat newer building just north of the main building steps from the recently completed restoration of Sloppy Joe’s. Still relatively undiscovered, this rooftop paradise also includes a quite lovely cafe and restaurant. The nort facing view looks past the Hotel Sevilla, down the Prado right to the open water of the Straits of Florida. This may be the best view in Havana.
The Hotel Sevilla pool, visible from the Annex rooftop, is otherwise completely hidden even though it is right beside the city’s best known walking, the Prado. This double kidney shaped retreat is lined with palms and lounge chairs creating a beautiful, almost secret getaway. The Sevilla is a landmark of its own, more than a century old building with a storied past and along list of famous and infamous residents. Today, the pool and the very hospitable cafe adjacent is a fine place to spend some down time in this great city.
Cuba’s beaches are a huge attraction for the millions of visitors that come each year. Perhaps under appreciated, these urban swimming destinations offer the own appeal.