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Varadero, Cuba

Tourism Information

Varadero is Cuba's most renowned and popular beach destination.

Varadero is the common name for the entire length of the Hicacos Peninsula. The peninsula, which takes its name from a local spiny cactus, is 21km long, with a nearly continuous broad band of fine white sand fronting a clear blue sea. Backed by mangroves and the calm waters of Cárdenas Bay, it is less than a mile wide at its widest point. Large resort hotels line a large percentage of the entire length of this peninsula.

Home to indigenous populations and a base camp for itinerant Taíno and Carib fishermen, Varadero was largely ignored throughout the Spanish colonial period. While it was first developed as a summer retreat by some 10 families from Cárdenas in 1887, its real potential as a tourist destination was realized relatively late. The first hotel was built here in 1910, and U.S. industrial magnate Irénée Dupont built his Xanadú Mansion here in 1926. A small cadre of celebrities and gangsters followed, including Al Capone. Still, at the time of the Revolution, there were only three hotels in Varadero. Today, there are over 55, with more than 15,000 rooms . . . and construction continues.

Cuisine

Restaurants specializing in Asian, Cuban, Italian, Spanish and international cuisine as well as barbecued meat and shellfish promise satisfaction for every taste. Cafeterias offer lighter meals and fast food as well. Coppelia Ice Cream Parlour has countless flavours of creamy Cuban ice cream.

Entertainment

Varadero’s plentiful cabarets feature Cuban and international drinks and rhythms. Theatres and the Amphitheatre host variety shows, while others, such as the International Festival of Music and the Electronic Music Festival feature many genres of popular music. Movie theatres show Cuban and foreign films (in the original language with Spanish subtitles).

Sightseeing

Deep in the cliff overlooking Matanzas Bay is Bellamar Cave, one of the Caribbean’s largest and most beautiful underground formations. Two kilometres of underground passages are covered in peculiar stalagmites, stalactites and calcite crystals.

Getting There By Plane

The Juan Gualberto Gómez International Airport (tel. 45/61-3036; airport code VRA) is located 18km west of Varadero, roughly midway between Matanzas and Varadero. Direct charter and scheduled commercial flights arrive in Varadero from Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Cancún, Nassau, Montego Bay, and most major European hubs. The major international carriers servicing Varadero include Air Canada, Air Transat, British Airways, Condor, Martinair, Mexicana, KLM, and LTU. A taxi between the airport and Varadero should cost CUC$20 to CUC$30.

What to do in Varadero

There is a wide variety of options for the visitors throughout the day: scuba diving in caverns, parachute jumps, dolphin shows, sea jungle tours, catamaran excursion, marine sports, horse riding, deep sea fishing, bicycle tours, and the golfing. Varadero Golf Club is among the best in the Caribbean. Famous Varadero beach has over twenty five diving points.

Marines activities: rides on yachts and catamarans, take mini submarine excursion, the glass-bottom boat to observe diversity of Caribbean marine lives. Visit Santa Catalina Cave located in Varadero, unique wonder of the natural world. It has over of 8km passageways, where evidence of pre Columbian communities was discovered. Ambrosio Cave, an Amerindian ceremonial site which has preserved over 70 cave paintings. The cave has many species of fauna and secondary formations with the shape of an umbrella toadstool. With a total of over 100 discos, bars and nightclubs you will enjoying stay in Varadero.

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