Things to do in Varadero - Cuba

varadero beach cubaVaradero is considered one of the world’s best beaches, Cuba's most popular tourist destination and largest resorts in the Caribbean. Immensely beautiful with perfect temperatures, miles of white sandy beaches and calm tourqouise waters, it makes an ideal spot for lovers of water sports, such as suba diving, snorkelling, sailing, kayaking and swimming. If you are planning a trip to this Cuban destination there's a great choice of hotel and private accommadation on offer. Here's a list of the best things to see and do, in and around Varadero.

Varadero is much more than just Sun and Beach

Varadero travel skydiveAround Varadero beach, there are plenty of attractions and activities to keep you busy and get you away from the hotel. This Cuban town is quite different from the rest of the island and an excellent family destination with impressive tropical beaches, so you'll find no shortage of things to do in Varadero beyond sipping on a Cuba Libre by the pool. Varadero is popular with tourists who prefer to stay at all inclusive resorts, but boutique homestays continue to attract a growing number of independent travelers and those seeking a more authentic, colonial style of Cuban comfort.  

Varadero International Skydiving Center

For those with a love of heights just west of the city, skydiving and jumping from 3000m for 10 minutes down onto Varadero's white sandy beach is the must-visit thrill. Parachuting in Varadero also means a stunning bird’s eye view of the beach and pristine waters below.

Varahicacos Ecological Reserve 

varahicacos nature reserve varaderoBe sure to explore the Varahicacos Ecological Park, an archaeological gem that's about as back to nature as you could want. This protected area is a nature reserve with a beautiful beach, corals, a variety of plant species such as cactus and orchids, a fantastic lagoon that's home to a wide diversity of birds, lizards and some prehistoric graves dating back more than 3000 years. Solid or hiking shoes are recommended, as the ground on the path is rocky and can be challenging. Exploring the Ambrosio Cave is a definite highlight of the tour, where bats swoop in and out of the caverns. This prehistoric cave is another glimpse into Cuba's past containing rock paintings accross no less than 5 galleries.

Varaderp cave trailsLocated deep in the Varahicacos Ecological Park, there is a small cave in the Muslim Trails, where some important fossils have been found. In the mid-19th century the trails were used as a hideout by Cuban smugglers who called themselves “Muslims”, because of its elevated position to watch both coasts. The outdoor area is well preserved and rich in nature with amazing plants and animals - It's definitely worth the effort.

Varadero Artisan Market - Los Caneyes

There are plenty of chic boutiques, but the markets dotted throughout Varadero offer a far more interesting shopping experience. Head to the artisan market in town for souvenir shopping, such as jewelery, wooden boxes, traditional food, paintings and other typically Cuban trinkets. The prices of souvenirs in Cuba are quite reasonable in comparison with other Caribbean islands.

Mansion Xanadu & Varadero Golf Club

mansion xanadu varadero golf clubConstructed from Italian marble, rich woods and with countless rooms, the sea front Xanadu Mansion was an incredibly lavish retreat back in its golden years. Today, the mansion has been converted into a luxury hotel and an all-round-year golf club, where you can enjoy a meal at the restaurant which specialises in French food and soak up the spectacular sea views from its terrace. If you're a passionate golfer, Varadero Golf Club owns Cuba's first and only fully fledged 18-hole course laid out accross the beautifullly landscaped 64 hectare estate. The mansion itself is well worth exploring, packed with ornate furnishings and one of the grandest properties in the entire Caribbean.

San Severino Fortress

Varadero SanSeverino fortressPerched on the western side of the Bay of Matanzas the San Severino Fort is an impressive 18th-Century fortress that served as a slave prison until the 1970s. The castle was built in 1734 preceeding Varadero itself as a means of defending the island against possible attacks from pirates. This spectacular castle is considered today one of Cuba's national monuments and a World Heritage site by Unesco.

House of Rum and Cigars

If you like rum and cigars, this is the place to stop and sample some of the finest examples in the world! The Casa del Habano is a top quality place to buy cigars while the Casa del Ron is a store that offers very reasonably priced Cuban rums, perfect souvenirs to take away with you. The coffee here is also excellent.

A walk around Josone Park

josone park varaderoThere is free entry to Josone Park, a peaceful lush green oasis covering more than 460 hectares of forest in the heart of Varadero, where many of the locals come out for a stroll. The park is packed with exotic animals, plants and beautiful surroundings to explore and hike around. Visitors come here to paddle around the lake on rowboats or relax in the shade of the palms for a pleasant afternoon excursion. There are plenty of facilities and activities for kids, including lots of grassy picnic and play areas, camel rides, mini golf, pedal boat rentals and a special children's train, plus a swimming pool at the park's south end. What were once lavish villas have been converted into prestigious restaurants featuring local and international cuisine, where adults can enjoy some of the best Pina Coladas in Cuba! Be sure to catch the sunset by the lake and seek out the famous cave paintings, the must-see highlights of this incredible natural park in Varadero.

Bellamar Caves

bellamar caves cubaBellamar Caves are only a short ride from the resorts of Varadero and are among the oldest tourist attractions in Cuba with a tunnel complex that extends more than 23 km throughout an area of 780 hectares. The underground caverns are famous for their incomparable beauty boasting a truly fabulous collection of impressive halls and galleries, underground stream and fountains decorated with breathtaking stalagmites and stalactites, unique in the Caribbean.  

Dolphinarium Varadero

dolphinarium varaderoLocated within the Hicacos Natural Park, the Delfinario is one of Varadero's top attractions. Heading out for a swim with the dolphins is not to be missed, especially if you travel to Varadaro with children. You can either watch a show (this is a great way to spend the afternoon with kids) followed by an optional close-up dolphin encounter in a lagoon and get even closer, swimming, diving and playing tricks with the trained dolphins. The shows, which take place four times daily, are fun, affordable and the experience is captured on video and photos, if you want a souvenir of your trip.  

Sun Adventure Sports

scuba diving in Varadero - Hoyo Azul Ojo MeganoOver 20 km of beaches boasting crystal clear waters provide the perfect playground for scuba diving and the chance to admire countless colourful corals and tropical fish. You don’t have to venture far to escape the crowds of Varadero and discover deserted beaches, perfect for exploring. Scuba diving is one of the most popular things to do in Varadero with more than 30 established diving sites, like the Barracuda Diving Center, catering for everyone from absolute beginners to experienced divers. Discovering the underwater wonders of marine life is a very popular activity in Varadero. If you fancy a more relaxed adventure you can easily book a one-hour boat trip from Varadero beach vendors to cruise around and get a taste of the Caribbean region or alternatively book a full day catamaran tour ride with lunch included, snorkeling in some of the most beautiful underwater spots of Cuba, enjoying the pristine beaches of Cayo Blanco and listening to live on-board music.

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