My dear travelers and lovers of unusual trips, welcome to the new series of travelogues on the Mr.M blog. The month of June will be dedicated to an unusual island country in the Caribbean, a country known for tobacco and rum – Cuba. At the very beginning of this third travelogue about Cuba, I would like to thank the travel agency Disko Travel, better known as Disko Travel Buddies, which is more than a travel agency, it is a real traveling family that provides an incredible experience. This is my first time cooperating with a travel agency from our area and I must admit that it was an unusual experience. With their help, travelogues from Cuba and fashion stories were created that you will have the opportunity to read this June and July, and I sincerely hope that you will enjoy the new adventure.
If by any chance you missed reading all the travelogues from Cuba or you want to remind yourself of some interesting things, take the opportunity to visit the following links:
- Letters from Cuba: Havana, the most Colorful Pearl of the Caribbean…
- Letters from Cuba: Havana in the Footsteps of Ernest Hemingway…
Do you want a trip that you will remember for a lifetime? Check out Disko Travel arrangements for far-exotic destinations and choose your dream adventure, just don’t forget your camera and phone to capture unforgettable moments from Zanzibar, Bali, Thailand, Cuba and other destinations that Disco Friend Travel can take you to.
After visiting Havana, it was our turn to visit the most famous resort in Cuba and one of the fashionable resorts in the Caribbean – Varadero. Varadero, also known as Blue Beach, is the most famous resort in the province of Matanzas in Cuba and one of the largest resorts in the Caribbean. Varadero Beach has been rated as one of the world’s best beaches by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards since 2019. Common activities include fishing and excursions to Matanzas, Cardenas and the Zapata Peninsula.
Varadero is about a two-hour drive east of central Havana. It is located on the Hikakos Peninsula, between the Gulf of Cardenas and the Strait of Florida, about 140 km east of Havana, at the eastern end of the Via Blanca highway. The peninsula is only 1.2 km wide at its widest point and is separated from the island of Cuba by the Cavama Channel, separated from the mainland by the Paso Malo Lagoon.
This land extends more than 20 kilometers from the mainland in a northeasterly direction, and its tip, Punta Hikakos, is the northernmost point of the island of Cuba. The city of Varadero has three longitudinal avenues, intersected by 69 cross streets. At the northeastern end of the peninsula there is a nature reserve with untouched forests and beaches. Hicacos Point Nature Park is an ecological reserve with an area of 3 km2, established in 1974. It contains the 250m long Ambrosio Cave, Mangon Lake which is home to 31 species of birds and 24 species of reptiles, and the ruins of La Calavera (Skull) Saltworks, one of the first saltworks built by the Spanish in the New World.
Havana and Varadero have the most development in Cuba. Varadero creates and provides over 50,000 jobs with over 52 hotel facilities. Canada’s Blue Island and the Spanish hotel chain Meliá, Iberostar and Globalia are just some of the foreign companies that contribute to Varadero’s economy. According to some research, a record 1.7 million foreign tourists visited Varadero in 2017. Future plans: to build at least 3,000 more rooms in five-star hotels, to add amenities including a theme park and shopping mall, and to bring back the famous music festival Festival de la Cancion.
Varadero was first mentioned as a place in 1555. The site was first used as a dry dock, and the peninsula’s salt mines (closed in 1961) supplied most of the Spanish Latin American fleet from 1587. However, the founding date of Varadero as a city was only in December 1887, when ten families from the town of Cardenas received permission to build their cottages between today’s 42nd and 48th streets. The village of Varadero was created in the 1880s as a resort.
The first houses with red wooden roofs can still be seen today along 1st Avenue. Varadero was established as a municipality by administrative redistribution on July 3, 1976, with territories that were previously part of Cárdenas. In August 2010, the municipality of Varadero was abolished in accordance with a law approved by the Cuban National Assembly, which once again became part of the municipality of Cárdenas.
Varadero is known as a tourist resort with more than 20 km of white sandy beaches. The first tourists visited Varadero in the 1870s, and for years it was considered an elite resort. Later, in 1910, the annual rowing regatta began, five years later the first hotel named Varadero was built, which was later renamed Club Nautico. Tourism increased in the early 1930s when Irene du Pont, an American millionaire, built his estate on the peninsula (now Maison Xanadu or DuPont House). People who stayed in the area include Al Capone. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, many villas were expropriated from their wealthy owners. These mansions soon became museums. As a symbol of the new integrated tourism for Cubans and foreign visitors of all walks of life, the Park of 8000 Cabins (Parkue de las 8000 Takuillas) was built in 1960.
In addition to the beach, Varadero has natural attractions such as caves and a chain of easily accessible virgin coves. Nearby are also cultural, historical and environmental attractions, such as the cities of Matanzas and Cardenas, the Zapata Peninsula and the resort of San Miguel de los Baños. Varadero, which is a free port, also has facilities for diving, deep sea fishing, yachting and other water sports. Varadero receives more than a million tourists a year. Varadero is primarily visited by European and Canadian tourists. The number of American tourists visiting Varadero, although increasing, is limited by US government restrictions that make it difficult for US citizens to visit Cuba as “tourists”, as defined by US rules.
Hotels in Varadero offer catamaran cruises with diving and a visit to the dolphinarium, the Delfinario, a coral-encrusted lagoon located 400 meters east of Marina Chapelin. Swimming and interacting with dolphins along with dolphin shows are also available here. Hotels can also provide kayaks or small boats for their guests. Fishing charters are available at Marlin Nautica and Marinas at Marina Chapelin. They also have windsurf boards and kite boards. Other attractions in the area include the Centro Todo En Uno theme park, Puente Bacunaiagua and the Hershey Electric Train. Diving is another attraction in Varadero. There are more than 30 dive sites, such as Parque Marino Caio Piedras del Norte, where divers can see a sunken warship and a Soviet AN-24 military aircraft, and Oyo de Megano, which has an underwater cave east of Varadero.
Some of the main attractions in Varadero are:
- The Xanadu Mansion is a hotel and restaurant that was formerly a three-story mansion built by American millionaire Irenee du Pont. The construction of this mansion cost Dupont $338,000. After the 1959 revolution, Dupont fled Cuba and left the villa to the Cuban government. In 1963, it was named Las Americas, turning it into a luxury restaurant that served French cuisine. The dining room still has the original furniture.
- Parque Retiro Josone, located on Avenida Primera and Calle 56, was founded in 1942 by Jose Iturrioz, general manager of Arechabal Ronera, a rum factory not far from Cárdenas.
- Museo Municipal de Varadero located on Calle 57. Furniture and history are displayed in Leopoldo Abreu’s 1920s summer house.
- The Church of Santa Elvira, a building built of stone and wood, is a Catholic church dating back to 1938. The half arch of a horseshoe, which ends with a cross at the top, serves as the belfry.
- The Ecologico Varahicacos Reserve is located at the eastern end of the island near Punta Hikacos and covers 730 hectares, which has long trails that lead to different caves. Cueva Ambrosio, discovered in the 1960s, has Indian drawings along with 47 pre-Columbian symbols that are more than 3,000 years old. Cueva de los Musulmanes (Cave of the Muslims) is on the second trail. It was once used as a native tomb.
- Playa de Varadero (Beach of Varadero).
- Cueva de Ambrosio (Ambrosio Cave). The cave contains, over its 300 meters, about 47 pre-Columbian paintings.
Playa Larga (optional excursion)
You start this fantastic trip with a Disko Travel guide with a short drive through the province of Matanzas. After that, you go on a speedboat ride along the Hatiguanico River. During the ride, you will enjoy the unreal landscapes that will surround you. The first stop is Fiesta Campesina, a hacienda that is a mixture of hotel, farm and museum where you can see typical flora and fauna characteristic of the Caribbean area as well as animals specific to this area. You will see the Cuban gar, that is, the oldest aquatic animal on the island, Hutia, that is, a rat that lives in a tree, and its appearance most resembles a fox.
After a tour of this beautiful farm, lunch will follow at a local restaurant, where you will have the opportunity to enjoy one of the best coffees with sugar cane in addition to great Cuban food. The next destination is the crocodile farm. Here you will have the opportunity to see the process of feeding the crocodiles, and of course you can enjoy watching the animals at an ever-smaller distance from you!
After hanging out with the crocodiles, you continue the boat ride all the way to the tourist center of Guam, i.e. to the Taino village, where you will see a real Indian village. Life in these areas years ago is presented in a vivid way. Improvised huts, statues, lots of pelicans will take you back several centuries in the past. A visit to a Taino village in Guam which is a recreation of the original inhabitants of Cuba. Entering the village is a welcome center with coconuts flavored with Cuban rum. The village features life-size sculptures created by famed Cuban sculptor Rita Long, depicting Aboriginal people performing the daily duties of fishing, hunting and domestic chores.
Every year, in June, Varadero hosts the Josone World Music Festival. Artists come to perform from different parts of Latin America and beyond. Open-air concerts and shows are held in different places of Varadero every year. The Varadero Gourmet Festival takes place every year between April and June. The five-day Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Show and Event is held every February through Harlistas Cubanas (“Cuban Harley Riders”). Varadero hosts the Melia Golf Club Cup event, which takes place every year in the third week of October. Next up is the Los Cactus Varadero Golf Tournament, a two-day tournament held at the Varadero Golf Club of the Los Cactus Hotel.
My dear adventurers, we have come to the end of this third special travelogue in the series of travelogues about Cuba where we had the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this unusual country in the Caribbean. Today’s travelogue would not have been possible without the selfless help of the tourist agency Disko Travel in cooperation with local partners who allowed me to feel the spirit and beauty of Cuban culture and tradition. Of course, as always, I tried my best to convey to you my impressions of this unusual experience from Cuba.
A person is rich in soul if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad that I always manage to find partners of my projects who help me to discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way.
I am honored to have the opportunity to cooperate with many companies and businessmen in the tourism sector and I would like to thank the Disko Travel travel agency once again for this incredible adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual Cuban culture in a completely different way.
How did you like my story about Cuba and the presentation of the Varadero resort which adorns the heart of Caribbean? Have you had a chance to visit Cuba so far?
If you have any question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write me below in the comments. Of course, as always, you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you at the same place in a few days, with some new story!
In the following stories from Cuba, we will discover some other interesting sights that you should visit if your journey leads you to this far away Caribbean country!
With Love From Varadero,