We were supposed to stay for four days in Varadero, but we only managed to stay for one day here. We used the rest of them to discover Cuban places like Trinidad, Santa Clara, Cienfuegos and Cayo Blanco.
As soon as you enter the Varadero Peninsula through the huge checkpoint, you enter a different world made of 20 km of beaches and resorts just for tourists.
The story of Varadero begins in 1887 when ten rich families have obtained approval to build holiday homes here. Immediately, hotels began to be built and the 20 kilometers of the peninsula turned into a tourist area, especially for American tourists.
Between the 30’s and 50’s, the world millionaires chose Varadero for spending their holidays turning it into an elite paradise.
And it is understandable. We talk about 20 km of white beaches, turquoise waters, palm trees guarding the roads and caves.
After the revolution, the government’s main objective was to improve the lives of ordinary Cuban through better education and medical service, so for many years Varadero was not that important and was left aside. Many of the important house in Varadero were seized from their rich owners and transformed into cultural centers or museums. The vision was that this place becomes a place that can be visited by all classes including Cubans.
Between the 60’s and 80’s, Varadero started to be a point of interest and it became an important cultural center. Here many concerts and festivals took place. But it was only in 1990 that the government decided to invest in this peninsula and revive tourism and they began to building the famous five-star hotels.
Indeed, Varadero is a touristic place and has no similarities to the rest of the country. When you enter here it’s like entering another country.
At the base of the peninsula up to the middle, you can find 3 and 4-star hotels that have lost their fame and glory they once had. We stayed in such a hotel that I’m sure that in its glory days it was delightful. The only thing that now remained were the memories of those times. Especially in terms of cleaning. In the restaurant dishes were dirty and when I say dirty, I mean the food was still on the plate. They didn’t t have enough cutlery, glasses or cups. You had to chase the waiters for a fork or a glass.
The climax was when I asked for a cup of coffee and the bartender washed a disposable cup and poured my coffee in it, and when I asked where the cups are, he replied that there are not cup left.
We had all inclusive. We didn’t have any other choice since here all travel packages are all-inclusive.
Unfortunately, Cuba is known for hotels that are not offering god food, but on the other hand, in private restaurants called Paladar, we ate very well.
Well, I can call this an experience.
In other to explore Varadero, we decided to rent scooters and ride freely all over the peninsula.
It was not so easy to rent a scooter. After 2 hours of searching while we checked seven rental offices, we have succeeded. We rented two scooters from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm and we wandered all over the peninsula.
In Cuba, there are only two state rental companies.
How to get to Varadero
By plane – Varadero has an airport, so you can land here directly.
Bus – you can reach Varadero from Havana by public transportation by state buses.
Havana – Varadero (9.56 EUR/ CUC) – 6:00 am, 8:00 am, 1:00 pm, 5:30 pm (3:25 min)
Trinidad – Varadero (19.11 EUR / CUC) – 7:30 am, 3:00 pm (6:25 min)
Cienfuegos – Varadero (15.29 EUR/ CUC) – 9:15 am, 4:45 pm (4:40 min)
These are the most important routes, but for more information you can check the site Viazul.
Taxi – you can take a taxi from Havana to Varadero which will take about 2 hours and the price is between EUR 55-70.
Rented car – a ride to Varadero in a classic car. You will find a big variety of cars and the cost will be around 150 Euro.
Wondering around Varadero
If you want to get out of the resort, you have to think about one of the options below:
Rent a car – renting a car is both difficult and quite expensive.
Rent a scooter – our case. You will need a driving license. For us it was the best option. We wondered all the peninsula and we drove for about 70 km from one end to another.
Bus – there is a double-decker bus traveling and has a fixed timetable. For a 1 day ticket, you can pay 5 Euro and you can climb and descend whenever you want. If you sit up, just watch out for palm branches.
Taxi –you’ll find a taxi in front any of the hotels.
Coco taxi – in Cuba I saw this lovely taxis. Tricycles with the round body that looks like an orange. We weren’t curious enough to try them but they seemed to be quite interesting.
Carriages – horse-drawn carriages that can be rented.
11 Things you have to do in Varadero
- Go to the beach
Under the sunny sky and perfect crystalline waters. Grab your hat and swimsuit and enjoy a perfect day on the beach under a palm tree.
- Walk on the beach at sunset
20 km of great beaches at your disposal.
- Rent a classic car and ride by the sea
- Have a trip to Cayo Blanco
There are daily trips from Varadero to Cayo Blanco, a desert island with turquoise water and white sand. This is the most popular trip you can have from Varadero, and it will be an experience you will not regret.
- Visit the caves
The caves are the oldest tourist attractions in Cuba. They are open since 1860.
Saturn Cave is perfect for swimming and scuba diving and Ambrosio’s cave is known for its Native Americans paintings.
- Scuba diving
Scuba diving is very popular in Varadero. There are over 20 places where you can enjoy the wonders of nature. We are talking about caves, coral reefs, tunnels and more.
- Sky diving
If you have the courage to jump from 3000 m you will experience 35 seconds of pure adrenaline.
- Swim with dolphins
At the Dolphinarium, you can see an amazing show where dolphins are the main stars, and you will be also able to swim among them.
It’s not the same experience as swimming with dolphins in their natural habitat, but you get to pet them and be very close to them.
- Rent a scooter and ride freely
We’re talking about 20 km of tourist peninsula, so you can rent a scooter to go to every corner of it.
- Parque Joson
In the middle of the peninsula, there is a park, a botanical garden, lakes, bridges, flamingos, and parrots. A special place where you can cool during hot days.
- Go to a Cabaret show
The cabaret concept is still in vogue in Cuba, so if you go to a show like this you will surely get a unique experience.
Tropicana Cabaret is a must see place.