You might say that Cuba's Cueva de Saturno has been both blessed and cursed: blessed by incredible natural beauty including stalactites, stalagmites and 22 m of cool, refreshing, crystal clear water, and cursed by its location a mere 30 km southwest of Cuba's most touristy, resort-and-golf-course-ridden stretch of shoreline known as Varadero. If you're imagining crowds of out-of-towners and entrepreneurial locals soliciting spare change, you're definitely in the ballpark. Such is life. Still, if you're on the road between Matanzas and Varadero or points east, consider making a stop over at this unique cave, if only for the 30 minutes it takes to sufficiently swim/snorkel around the surface (there's a rental shop/cafe on site). The water is a stunning clear blue, with visibility on sunny days stretching well over 25 m and a constant temperature around 20-22ºC.
If you've got your certification and want to make the most of the experience, set up a dive in Saturno from one of Varadero's dive shops (Varadiving, Gaviota, Barracuda, etc. We've included a few links below). There are two chambers to explore boasting calm waters, various marine life (small fish, shrimp, etc.) and excellent cave formations, plus the experience is infinitely more intimate than at the surface. However, if diving isn't in the cards, you can up your chances at seclusion considerably by avoiding the ubiquitous Jeep tours and making the trip solo. With a well-timed visit, you just might have the cave to yourself for 10 minutes, a rare occurrence that will allow you to revel temporarily in this magnificent subterranean swimming hole. It's safe to say this is a hit-and-miss type of activity, but being so accessible it's certainly worth the risk if you're in the area.