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Varadero, Cuba
Caribbean Sea | Sun | SCUBA

Varadero, Cuba
Where: Cuba, Caribbean sea
Trip purpose:
- All inclusive beach vacation
- Sightseeing in Havana
- Inexpensive all-inclusive vacations
- Communistic tourist friendly country
- Direct flights from Canada and some European cites
- Stunning white powdery beaches
- Safer that some other Caribbean islands
- Country with limited resources
- Need to pick resorts carefully
- Food and drink options are limited

Why visit Varadero in Cuba?

Varadero is a popular place for inexpensive all-inclusive beach vacations with beautiful white powder beaches. Former dry dock and a salt mining area, it became a vacation spot after people started building vacation houses in the late 1800's. It grew into a resort town and, after the revolution in 1959 Varadero was first to be used for tourist income. Initially, the pre-revolutionary hotels were opened, but the government struggled to maintain them with the limited resources. The island of Liberty had to open doors to foreign investors. Large resort chain companies started further development and many 4 and 5-star resorts were built in the 1990's. Now the entire peninsula is developed.

Hotels vary in quality, to a degree, where star assignment for older hotels can be a bit inaccurate. Some newer hotels offer separate higher class areas which are very good deals in terms of inexpensive luxury. The main natural attraction of the area is nearly continuous white powdery beach stretching over 20 kilometres. The beach is similar to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, in terms of sand quality. The seas are mostly calm and the water is turquoise-clear. It is hard to beat in terms of what you get for the money, provided you pick right resort. Another advantage is that Cuba is heavily reliant on tourism and they value visitors. There is very low crime and no annoying beach vendors. Everything is either government operated or controlled. You are safe and there is a sense of law and order, unlike some other places in the Caribbean. You still need to exercise general common sense and caution though, especially in Havana, as the country is poor and petty crime still exist.

Varadero is in a driving distance from Havana. It is a very interesting day trip to the capital. So, if you have not been to Havana and would like to visit Cuba, Varadero is probably the best choice. Cuba stands out from all other places in the Caribbean and pretty much all of Americas as it is a living socialistic country. However, unlike other socialistic regimes, Cuba is very friendly to the outside visitors. Tourism saved Cuba in the embargo situation.

Where in the world?

"Varadero on OpenStreetMap"
Varadero on OpenStreetMap


Varadero is located in Cuba, on a thin peninsula approximately 2 hours driving distance from the Cuban capital Havana. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean Sea. It is located between Florida, USA and Dominican Republic. Varadero is almost in a "swimming" distance from the Florida Keys (just over 100 km).

Getting there

There is an international airport near Varadero (VRA). Most sun vacation airlines, and some regular airlines have direct flights. These are usually booked as a package as Varadero is a spot for inexpensive all-inclusive vacations. At the time of writing, US residents have restrictions to travel to Cuba, but the spot is popular among European, Canadian, and South American tourists. The flight takes about 3.5 hours from Toronto. If there is no direct flight from your city you will likely have a stop in Havana or in a hub with direct flights. If you fly to Havana, it makes sense to stay there for 2-3 days for sightseeing.


"North American type electrical plug"
North American type electrical plug

120 volts, 60Hz, socket with two flat vertical slots, the same as in Canada and USA. However, many hotels have European sockets with 220V.


Spanish, but all resort staff speak English.


There are two currencies: Cuban Peso, and the Cuban Convertible Currency (CUC), or Cuban currency for tourists. 1CUC = 1USD. It is equivalent to 25 internal pesos.

Vaccination and infections

According to CDC no vaccination is required in addition to the routine vaccination established in most countries (subject to your country of origin and your personal vaccination). Typhoid and hepatitis vaccines are recommended. There is NO reported risk of malaria in the country. Prevent yourself from insect bites to avoid insect transmitted infections (dengue, zika, west Nile etc.). Yellow fever is required for entry if you come from an endemic area. Please see updated information for health at CDC site or health authority in your country.


There is a country of origin dependent tiered system of visa-free duration and requirements for tourist card and visa. In some countries the airlines purchase tourist cards for tourists. In some countries you need to do it through separate services. Please check your specific situation in advance of your trip. Medical travel insurance is also required for visitors at the time of writing. Please check updated information at the time of travel.

When to go?

"Weather averages Havana"
Weather averages Havana

Climate in Cuba is similar to other places in the Caribbean and Florida. It is warm all year round, but December through March gets chillier. It can get a bit cold in the pool in January-February. Summer months, May through October bring rains and risks of hurricanes. March is month of spring break in the schools. So, March - April are probably best months, March for family and April for couples/singles.

Where to stay?

"Iberostar Varadero"
Iberostar Varadero

Our recommendation would be to target the high-class newer resorts of the international chains. Cheaper resorts may disappoint as their star ratings may not reflect the reality. Our choice would be a separated high-class section in a larger resort, like the Royal Service at Paradisus Varadero. Generally, food in Cuban resorts is not something to write home about, but we found that they made most of their effort in this part of the resort. Drinks were also of better quality. We found another advantage of that part of the resort - secluded shoreline. As the beach is rocky at that end of the resort, it was deserted. We spent every evening watching sunset with a bottle of sparking wine, with nobody else around us. The main common beach was excellent and we would go there to swim during daytime.

"Varadero beach"
Varadero beach

What to do?

Resort activities

"Feeding fish underwater"
Feeding fish underwater

The resorts provide continuous schedules of organized activities during daytime and entertainment shows after dinner. Some resorts also have a disco. In addition to regular relaxation "activities" at the resort and on the beach, there are non-motorized water sports, such as pedal boats, catamarans and wind surfing. We also saw sky diving and horse riding, which are probably offered by external providers.


"Navy ship wreck"
Sunken navy ship

SCUBA diving is a popular activity. Diving is easy and suitable for complete novices. There are no currents, dive sites are shallow and water is warm. Do not expect coral like in Raja Ampat or marine life of the Pacific, but for the Caribbean sea diving was good. Our favorite spot was a huge Russian navy ship wreck. The monster apparently was burning more diesel than the country could afford and it ended up as an underwater tourist attraction. There are many preserved large guns on the ship. We were also told that now there is an aircraft wreck, a large Russian cargo plane. We also did a shore dive at a coral garden which had decent coral and interesting swim-throughs. Check our video at the page top. Our only critique is that equipment can be old, at least we encountered some which needed replacement. Bring your own equipment if you have it.

Day trips

"Cayo Blanca, Varadero"
Cayo Blanca

The trip you should not skip is to Havana. You will see different sides of a city that went through its ups and downs. You will see colonial architecture, decaying building needing repairs and examples of new post-revolutionary architecture. You will also visit places where Ernest Hemingway spent time. The tour guides will not skip cigar factory store. We also visited a cemetery which appeared better maintained than some parts of the city. However, Cuban cars may impress you more than any sightseeing.

There are also local trips to delphinium and a nearby island Cayo Blanca. Both were worth visiting. It may be done as a single day-trip.


We have no affiliation with any booking agency/site, attraction companies or resorts. We simply share our experience and opinions. Some information may be outdated, please check with primary sources.