The first stop on our Caribbean adventure (after sleeping over at Havana due to a late flight) was Varadero, most known for its long stretch (cca 20km) of sandy white beach and clear blue sea. And that is basically all you need to know about it
We arrived Sunday afternoon with the bus and met two American girls along the way; they made the cca 3 hours on the road almost fly by. They have been friends forever and currently live in different states (I believe Texas and Philadelphia, but I might be wrong) so they decided to take a short holiday in Cuba together. I have to say, hearing how short their flights were made me a bit jealous; I’d love to be max 2 hours away from this Caribbean island and pay low rates for the flights. Imagine just popping over to Havana for the weekend… On the other hand, we can do the same thing with let’s say Amsterdam, Stockholm, Prague… But you know what they say, the grass is always greener on the other side and other nations are always closer to the destinations you really, really want to go to. Speaking of, one of the girls currently lives in Hawaii… Ok, I am digressing now and thinking how I can combine/afford a trip to Hawaii XD. Back to Cuba!
Varadero was on our list as we wanted to have a couple of days on the beach doing nothing and recharging a little bit and the peninsula was definitely made for this. There is not much sightseeing to do just kilometres and kilometres of beautiful white sand and blue sea. The whole peninsula is only about 1.7 km wide and the towns along it are mainly full of resorts, restaurants and several casas particulares. As I mentioned, we had to book a hotel the first night because we could not find one single casa free. The hotel only had the all inclusive deal and we sure made the best of it – all the drinks and meals were included. There is something fabulous about lying on the beach doing absolutely nothing and having a bottomless source of rum at your service.
If you wonder if the sea really is that blue, it is and the sand really is almost white. But the sea is also quite shallow for quite a long stretch and you will need some time to get to a decent depth to be able to swim without hitting the bottom by accident. Oh, and watch out for the waves and the current as both can be quite strong. I am aware it is probably needless to mention, but sunscreen will be your best friend or you will burn all over even if you do tan easily like me; the sun is really strong and the wind kinda masks the heat so even if you already have a bit of a tan, you still might burn. Pale people, you have been warned!!
The houses here are in quite good shape and there are programs on in the evenings at most hotels, some of them open to non guests as well. That is how we stumbled upon a punk rock concert; just imagine a skinny topless rocker in tight leather trousers 😀
Before deciding if you want to go to Varadero or not, you need to figure out what you want from your holiday. If you want to see as much as you can but do not have much time (can you ever have enough time?), I’d advise to skip Varadero. You can find nice beaches in other locations; Havana has lovely beaches, the only difference is you need to get there by bus or taxi if you’re staying in town. Cienfuegos and Trinidad also have beautiful beaches a bit out of town but I found the sea there a bit too warm for my taste (it was over 24 degrees). If you want a chill out beach holiday with loads of rum and not much walking, go to Varadero but book your stay before you get there so you can choose the best bang for your buck.