Varadero, Cuba beach vacation travel guide for Canadians: best things to see and do
A Cuba beach vacation guide couldn't even get started without bucket-list destinations like the iconic Varadero beach and the beautiful colonial city of Trinidad. Read on for what our deal experts recommend in central and central-western Cuba.
Twenty kilometres of sugar-soft sand await in Varadero. Situated on the Hicacos peninsula, Varadero is known for all-inclusive resorts that have attracted Canadians for decades. While a good bulk of the peninsula is made up of resorts with private beaches, there are also public beaches for travellers looking for a different option.
Varadero has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, with calm, swimmable waters that are suitable for the entire family. Varadero Beach is Cuba's trademark stretch of sand. If all-inclusive resorts are your thing, this premier beach-resort destination offers a variety of choices, from inexpensive resorts full of character to 5-star luxury hotels.
Travelzoo tip: If you’re an avid snorkeler, Playa de Oro in Varadero has crystal-clear waters that make it easy to spot colourful fish. Playa Coral is known for its coral reefs. Located in the Varadero Area, (in between Matanzas and Varadero), it's a great place to snorkel right from the beach — or head to Laguna de Maya, the Fauna Reserve. There are reportedly 300 species of fish in this area.
A week at an all-inclusive Varadero resort is our idea of a well-spent vacation, but there are also a lot of different things to do away from the resorts. Golf aficionados can tee off at Varadero Golf Club, an 18-hole championship course with an intricate system of lagoons. Mansion Xanadu, the hotel and club house, offers sweeping sea views. Cayo Piedra Underwater Park features several shipwrecks. Bellamar Cave, located on the outskirts of Matanzas, is two kilometres of underground passages covered in stalagmites, stalactites and calcite crystals. If you’ve enjoyed cenotes in Mexico, you might like Saturno Cave, located near the Varadero airport. Book a visit with a dive club so you can snorkel through the caverns.
Trinidad in Cuba is a gorgeous destination; the colonial city is a UNESCO site that has not changed since the 1800s. Trinidad’s old town is car-free, so visitors can roam the streets and meander through narrow roads. Pair a visit to Trinidad with a beach trip. Playa Ancon has unforgettable sunsets and almost-silver-white sand. One of the best beaches on the Southern coast of Cuba with over 20 dive sites, it also has a marina where you can hop on a sailing trip to the Jardines de la Reina. The beach is dotted with trees and shrubs that edge close to the water. Playa La Boca is located just five kilometres from Trinidad, and has a naturally sheltered pool that is great for children.
Travelzoo tip: Sandflies are common, especially at sunrise and sunset, so be sure to bring insect repellant.
Bahia de Cohinos
Its role in the nuclear arms race aside, Bahia de Cochinos, also known as the Bay of Pigs, is best known for its diving, with a a 300-meter coral wall to swim alongside. Visit the Museo de Playa Giron to learn more about the history of the region, or take a dip at La Cueva de los Peces, a cenote southeast of the bay.
Travelzoo tip: The Bay of the Pigs itself doesn't have a beach but the area does shelter many idyllic stretches of sand.
Visit Playa Larga, near the village of Caleton. It is located at the edge of Cienaga de Zapata National Park, and is perfect for travellers looking to discover more about the ecosystems of Cuba, with wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs open for exploration. Caleta Buena is a natural saltwater pool and a great place to learn how to snorkel. Punta Perdiz has an entrance fee, but is a maintained beach on Playa Giron coast with shallow water where you can swim with fish.