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Lounge in luxury in pristine Varadero
The resort town of Varadero, on the island of Varadero, offers the kind of tropical escape you have only dreamed about, in an exclusive part of Cuba about 150 kilometres north-east of lively Havana.
Arriving in Varadero is like stepping into a postcard, with flexible palm trees swaying in the breeze, more than 20 kilometres of bright white coast line running alongside the gentle surf and windsurfers dotting the ocean. With a variety of hotels to suit different budgets and a population of just under 30,000, Varadero is a great place for anyone who wants to slow way down.
Discover a peaceful coastal paradise
As part of one of the largest resort areas in the Caribbean, Varadero is the kind of place most visit purely to dedicate some time to their tan, finish their latest airport read or four, appreciate their hotel and the scenic vistas that go with it, and generally operate without a strict schedule.
Many therefore stay close to their hotel in Varadero, depending where on the peninsula the accommodation is situated. For those in hotels by the beach, the picturesque coastal scene tends to occupy most of the stay, while travellers lodged in the town of Veradero itself can explore the shops and restaurants there by foot.
In and around Varadero
With its white sand, umbrellas and sun lounges, well-kept hotels standing guard along the shoreline, occasional friendly vendors offering coconut water and other tempting refreshments, not to mention year-round temperatures that average between the low and high 20s (degrees Celsius), the beach is easily the number one attraction in Varadero. Most visitors will stay as close to the beach as possible, and the hotels in this area are therefore where most of the action for tourists is.
Activities such as scuba diving, snorkelling, parasailing and paragliding are available, along with others that are more successfully done on land including golf – Varadero is home to Cuba’s only full golf course. For a mix of the two visit Delfinario, where guests are treated to a show and have the opportunity to swim with dolphins.
Saturno Cave, Parque Josone and other to-dos
There are plenty of day tours, whether private, organised through your hotel or as part of a group, in Varadero. Excursions to picturesque freshwater cave Saturno Cave, Ambrosio Cave, and even guided tours of Varadero itself in old-fashioned cars are all possibilities sure to keep you busy when not on the sand.
Those with a particular affinity for Varadero’s cave attractions will be pleased to learn there are others worth seeing: The Bellamar Caves, which have been open to tourists since the middle of the 19th century, are the oldest attraction in Cuba.
Right in the centre of Varadero town is Parque Josone, so-called in tribute to Jose and Onelia, the couple who created the park and whose names combine to form ‘Josone’. In Parque Josone visitors are transported to a lush botanical garden like no other, where tropical birds, camel rides for children, vendors and music await amongst lakes, bridges and extensive flora. With a situation at the intersection of 1st Avenue and 56th Street, Parque Josone is impossible to miss and a must to see.
From all-inclusive hotels to local eats
What you eat in Varadero depends largely on where you stay. Many hotels located on the outskirts or outside of town feature their own restaurant or dining options, making these accommodations ideal for those that wish for a quiet, self-contained holiday.
For those who want to experience Varadero, staying at one of the lower-priced hotels in the centre of town will also mean increased options when it comes to food and drink. Along with the numerous restaurants in the centre are food stalls, bars and takeaway.
Whether you eat at your hotel in Varadero or in the town itself, it is difficult to avoid ending up in a restaurant aimed at out-of-towners, but most serve traditional dishes and many offer the bonus of spectacular ocean-front views. Seafood is popular, particularly lobster, along with meat dishes made of beef and pork.
Many waterfront restaurants are open during the day for snacks or drinks, including signature cocktails like the Mojito or Cuba Libre, and local beer with two of the most prominent brands Cristal and Bucanero. While wine in Cuba is rather sweet and therefore not often popular with traditional wine lovers, there are other local specialities such as Caney, Cuba’s premium rum, which is made to the east of Varadero.
When the time comes to recover from the alcoholic beverages, coffee in Cuba is made strong and usually served as an espresso or with warm milk.