There is no need to beat around the bush: Varadero is a 100% beach and idleness destination that leaves no one indifferent.
Some love it, others hate it.
A huge seaside resort, Varadero is the paradise of all-inclusive stays in Cuba.
Large resorts follow one another as far as the eye can see.
Difficult to form an opinion on Varadero? We tell you everything to help you see more clearly.
Varadero in a few words
Located in the province of Matanzas, Varadero is one of the largest seaside resorts in the Caribbean.
It spreads its white sandy beaches over more than 20 km in the Hicacos Peninsula, on the northern coast of Cuba.
A million visitors come every year, mainly Canadians, Russians and Europeans.
However, if you don’t see any locals around, don’t be surprised: except for a few areas, Varadero is forbidden to Cubans (like Cayo Levisa).
The weather in Varadero
Cuba is a small country and the weather in Varadero is pretty much the same as on the rest of the island.
In Varadero as elsewhere in Cuba, the year is divided into two main seasons: -the dry season (late November – late April) -the rainy season (May – November)
Temperatures in Varadero
Temperatures in Varadero are mild during the dry season, higher during the rainy season.
the sunshine is relatively constant.
It varies between 7 and 10 hours per day (with a peak in April).
The sun is thus with the appointment all the year in Varadero!
How to Get to Varadero ?
Varadero is one of the most popular destinations on the island (after the capital, Havana).
The seaside resort is therefore, not surprisingly, very easy to reach.
Viazul buses serve Varadero daily from Havana.
Allow about 3 hours of bus time (departure at 8am, 10am, 1pm and 5pm).
The trip will cost you 10 CUC per person.
Otherwise, you can book a collective cab without any problem: ask directly at your casa particular.
If you wish to spend a 100% farniente vacation, you can even land directly at the Juan Gualberto Gomez airport from France.
To arrive in Cuba in complete serenity, you can even book your transfer from the airport to your hotel right now: you even have the choice between a shared transfer and a private transfer
Hotels in Varadero
There is no shortage of accommodation options in Varadero and it is a little difficult to see clearly in all this clutter.
We recommend 4 hotels that stand out
this is the ideal option for families.
The hotel includes a children’s pool, a children’s playground and a small water park.
Royalton Hicacos Varadero Resort & Spa
this option is reserved for adults and is therefore more suitable for couples or friends.
Facilities include a wellness/spa center, a beauty salon and a nightclub.
The Blau Varadero Hotel
also reserved for adults.
It is the perfect hotel for sports lovers, with tennis court, kayaks, windsurfers, diving equipment, etc.
The Melia Las Americas
also reserved for adults, the hotel has a spa, a Jacuzzi, 4 pools, a hair salon, 7 restaurants and 5 bars.
Getting around Varadero
Getting around Varadero by bus
Transtur buses serve the different points of interest in Varadero.
They run from 9am to 9pm, every day of the week.
You can buy a day ticket for 5 CUC.
A double-decker bus, the Varadero Beach Tour (5 CUC for the day), also stops at the main hotels and shopping centers of the city.
You can buy your tickets directly on the bus
Getting around Varadero by coco-taxi
Equivalent to the Indian tuk-tuk but attached to a scooter, coco-taxis offer rides in Varadero for about 5 CUC.
Travelling by carriage in Varadero
Coachmen offer tours of Varadero (15 CUC) by carriage at the entrance of all the main hotels in town.
Getting around by cab in Varadero
Less original than the coco-taxis and horse-drawn carriages, a good number of cabs offer their services for trips around the peninsula or for excursions in the province of Matanzas.
Count 20 CUC for Cárdenas, 85 CUC for Havana or 180 CUC for Trinidad.
Things to do in Varadero
Water activities in Varadero
The greatest attraction of Varadero is undoubtedly its fine sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.
You will find, without surprise, something to satisfy your desire for water activities of all kinds! Get your bathing suits!
- Diving and snorkeling in Varadero Varadero has 3 good diving clubs, each of them offering diving trips in the 21 spots of the Hicacos peninsula: Barracuda Scuba Diving Center (the biggest and best known of Varadero’s diving clubs, but customers’ comments on its services are mixed)
- Marina Gaviota (cheaper rates) -Marlin Marina Chapelin (Aquaworld)
- Diving Center On the program: snorkeling (30 CUC), day or night diving, in the reefs or in caves (50 to 60 CUC).
- Introductory courses (70 CUC) and internships (220 CUC) are also available.
These three clubs also organize excursions to the south of the island to dive in the famous Bay of Pigs.
To make sure that the excursions are available, you can also book them now.
The following three excursions can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance at (full refund).
In each case, you will be picked up directly at your hotel in Varadero.
Diving with dolphins
This 4-hour cruise will take you on board a high-end boat to meet the dolphins, with whom you will be able to dive for 30 minutes, accompanied by a professional guide.
A drink (cocktail, beer…) is also included.
To book, click here.
Cruise and dive in Cayo Blanco: aboard a catamaran, you will spend the day exploring the surroundings of Cayo Blanco, accompanied by a professional guide.
On the program: snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean and discovery of a coral reef.
Drinks and lunch are included.
Guama (Bay of Pigs) Excursion and Snorkeling
This 12-hour excursion is the perfect opportunity to discover the Zapata Peninsula and the Bay of Pigs.
You will explore the Guama lagoon, right in the heart of the mangrove, and then go to Punta Perdiz to swim in the turquoise sea at Punta Perdiz.
Here you can put on your mask and snorkel and swim to discover the diversity of corals and fishes that inhabit the Bay of Pigs.
The excursion includes snorkeling equipment, lunch and open bar on the beach.
Sea fishing in Varadero
The Barracuda Scuba Diving Center, the Marina Gaviota and the Marlin Marina Chapelin (Aquaworld) Diving Center also offer deep-sea fishing trips
- Count 290 CUC for 4 people.
Other nautical activities in Varadero
(windsurfing, kayaking, catamaran, etc.)
To spend some time between two sunbathing sessions, you can rent windsurfing boards (10 CUC), kayaks or catamarans directly on the beaches of Varadero.
Things to do in downtown Varadero
I have to say it right away: apart from snorkeling, diving and sunbathing, there is not much to do in Varadero! However, travelers eager for cultural visits will find one or two sites to visit!
Parque Josone is one of the most visited sites in Varadero.
This 9-hectare landscaped park was built in 1940 by José Fermín Iturrioz y Llaguno, owner of a rum distillery in the nearby town of Cárdenas, and his wife, Onelia.
The couple also built a neo-classical mansion, which today houses one of the park’s four restaurants.
A lake, a swimming pool and a small train invite visitors to stroll and relax.
Count 0.50 CUC per hour per person for a canoe ride on the lake, 5 CUC per hour for a pedal boat ride and 2 CUC per hour per person for access to the pool.
The park is also known for its incredible natural diversity. While walking around, you will discover a variety of flora.
You may even be lucky enough to spot, hidden among the tall trees, one of the few ostriches that inhabit Parque Josone de Varadero.
Museo Municipal Varadero
Located in a beautiful house by the sea, the Museo Municipal de Varadero exhibits heterogeneous collections tracing the history of the region.
To do on the Varadero peninsula
Mansion Xanadu (Casa Dupont) & Golf Varadero
Built in 1920 by a rich American named Irenee Du Pont, the Mansion Xanadu is a small palace made of precious wood and marble.
A golf enthusiast, Irenee Du Pont also built a 9-hole golf course on the seafront to be able to practice his hobby in peace.
Today, the Xanadu Mansion has been converted into a luxury hotel.
You will also find a restaurant on the premises.
The 3rd floor of the mansion is occupied by a panoramic bar.
Visitors who share the owner’s passion for golf will also be able to enjoy themselves! Now the Varadero Golf Club, the course has been expanded to 18 holes.
Varahicacos Ecological Reserve
To explore the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, head to the end of the Varadero peninsula.
Classified as a protected reserve since 1974, it is very small and covers only 3 km2.
On the program
hiking, exploring caves and discovering the local fauna and flora (including a giant cactus that is over 500 years old)!
Birdwatching enthusiasts will be delighted: the reserve is home to many species of birds (some of which are endemic) of all kinds! However, because of Varadero’s obligations, the reserve is unfortunately being gradually nibbled away by big resorts…
Cueva de Ambrosio
Located in the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, the Cueva de Ambrosio (3 CUC/person) is a 300-meter long cave covered with 47 pre-Columbian paintings.
These paintings, made of red and black concentric circles, were discovered in 1961.
They could, according to specialists, be 2000 years old.
Be warned, hundreds of bats have taken up residence in the cave.
But don’t panic, they are harmless!
Located on the edge of the mangrove, the Delfinario (delphinarium in French) in Varadero organizes twice a day (at 11am and 3:30pm) 40-minute dolphin shows (15 CUC/person, extra 5 CUC to use your camera).
For 5 CUC extra, it is also possible to have your picture taken with the dolphins (from a platform and not in the water).
And if you have always wanted to swim with dolphins, you can finally make your dream come true! (75 CUC/adult, 65 CUC/child for 15 minutes of swimming).
Cayo Piedras del Norte
Located 5 kilometers north of the Hicacos Peninsula, Cayo Piedras del Norte is a tiny island classified as a marine reserve/
If Cayo Piedras del Norte is popular with diving enthusiasts, it is also because of the many wrecks covering its seabed.
Divers can even discover the remains of an AN plane.24 : unusual !
If you are not a diving enthusiast, you can also explore the seabed of Cayo Piedras del Norte on board a glass-bottomed boat!
Excursions from Varadero
From Varadero, there is no lack of excursions to discover the Cuban tourist sites!
If you don’t have much time in Cuba and don’t have a tour planned, why not take one or two excursions to the island’s must-see cities and sites?
You can book excursions that leave Varadero in the morning and bring you back to your hotel at the end of the day:
- Excursion to Havana
- Excursion to Vinales
- Excursion to Trinidad or Cienfuegos
If you have more time and/or are already planning a tour, you can take advantage of your stopover in Varadero to discover the province of Matanzas and its surroundings (Cienaga de la Zapata, Guama, Cárdenas, etc.) :
- Excursion to the Yumuri Valley
- Excursion to Guama
Banks & exchange offices
- Banco de Ahorro on calle 36 -Banco de Credito y Comercio on calle 36 -Visa / Mastercard distributor on Parque Central
- Distributor on Avenida 1, after the corner with Avenida de la Playa, near Joseone Park
- Cadeca on Autopista Sur, Parque de las 8000 Taquillas
- Omnibus terminal at the corner of Autopista Sur and Calle 36
- Juan-Gualberto Gomez Airport: 20 kilometers southwest of Varadero
- Cubatur at the corner between Avenida 1 and Calle 33 -Infotur at the corner between Avenida 1 and Calle 13.
- Infotur also has counters in the big hotels of Varadero.
- The vast majority of hotels in Varadero have internet access.
- You can also go to the Etecsa Telepunto office (at the corner of Avenida 1 and Calle 30).
- If you are staying in a large hotel in Varadero, you can leave your mail directly with the hotel reception.
- Otherwise, there is a post office on Avenida 1, between calle 43 and calle 44, a few steps from the Parque Central.
Varadero: hell or paradise?
If you want to have a relaxing break on the beach, with your toes in the air, you are in the right place in Varadero!
On the other hand, even if there are some beautiful excursions in the surroundings, don’t expect to get a lot of authenticity.
You will find only big impersonal resorts as far as the eye can see! In summary: -If you dream of a relaxing vacation, without headaches, why not take a break in Varadero?
-On the other hand, if you dream of discovering the local Cuban culture, this is not where you will find your happiness!