We left Havana in a cab to make our way to Varadero. One and a half-hour later, we arrived at Iberostar Selection Bella Vista in Varadero.
At first look, the hotel front was not much. But, the closer you get to the entrance, the more you see how enjoyable your stay is going to be. The beauty of the hotel is hidden on the other side.
The hotel greets you with an open-air lobby. You see the palm trees, the resting deck where all events are happening, and the central bar. The entrance then leads you to the beautiful, tri-coloured water of the Atlantic Ocean.
Our room faced the ocean and the outdoor stage from the 5th floor of the main complex. It was neat and standard for an all-inclusive hotel.
There was nothing unexpected at this hotel. Here, you will find the buffet and a la carte restaurants, a variety of adult and kid pools, and several bars.
You will find lounging sun chairs by the pools, some in the water, some in the sun, and others under gazebos. The main pool opens to the collection and the surface so that you can sip on your mojito right in the water.
Varadero has one of the most beautiful beaches I have seen.
And photos don’t do it justice.
And believe me, I have seen some great beaches in the Mediterranean and the Pacific Ocean.
Yet, this Cuban beach competes well.
You probably have heard of the white sand with grains so small you feel like walking on a soft carpet. You probably have seen the clear water blue, azure, and turquoise. You probably remembered those moments under the gentle warm kisses of the sun.
That is Varadero.
And, this is the main reason people come here.
Not busy due to COVID-19, the hotel had enough patrons to feel jolly but not too many to wait in line. The restaurants did not have any wait time, serving buffet style or a la carte. It was a very comfortable and relaxing atmosphere throughout.
Although most people come to Varadero to relax, we like active rest.
Hence, we participated in several adventures while we were in Varadero.
We took a catamaran for a sail ride and snorkelling.
For $20 per person, we were able to book a sailing and snorkelling right from the hotel beach “marina.” This life-jacket-equipped adventure takes you on the ride on the wind sail to a small reef. When there, you jump into the water and look at the multicoloured fish. The sails person feeds the fish around you, so you are swimming with the fish. It’s pretty cool and allows you to take a few pictures in the water if you have a water-proof camera.
Day-long catamaran adventures include a catamaran ride, an island visit, dolphins, and lunch. This excursion will cost you about $80 bucks per person and is worth it if you are looking to explore the sea.
We went on a Safari Jeep Adventure.
This excursion was an epic day-long adventure!
After getting up early in the morning, you join the caravan of SUVs (not quite Jeeps, but they do the trick well). You can either drive the SUV (if you know manual) or ask someone else in your group to drive.
The first stop is snorkelling.
You might think, wait-did you not do a snorkelling tour on the catamaran.
Yet, this snorkelling experience is along a much more expansive reef with a much richer view of the sea life. You will see different coloured fish around you, including stingrays, starfish, and jellyfish. Most are not dangerous, and the crew will ensure you are safe in the water.
Here, you can also do scuba diving if you know what you are doing and get a drink and a massage at the shore afterward.
Your next destination is Cueva Saturno.
Cueva Saturno is a cave with a brilliant blue freshwater pool. The depth of this natural pool ranges from 1 meter deep on one end to 22 meters deep on the other. You can jump into the water from the platform and go for a short swim.
Next, was a speed boat run along a forest river.
You have a chance to sail a speedboat along the river going into the island at this stop. As you lead the boat to high gear, you see local people and nature on the shore. The tree roots reach deep into the water as you zip through.
You switch drivers three times. Everyone has a chance to be a captain.
You return to the marina for drinks and a small show from indigenous Cuban people.
Cuban food at the ranch.
You have worked out some appetite by this point. The next stop is a ranch serving traditional Cuban lunch: beef stew, rice and beans, and plantain chips. If you are willing to spend some extra, you can get a grilled lobster here as well. After finishing lunch, you spend about 25 minutes wondering about the ranch. There are resting spaces, bows and arrows, and a horse ride.
The adventure then takes you to the Sacred Tree.
Sacred or not, this tree is enormous. And it grants wishes if you walk around it three times, Make sure to tell it your desires in excruciating detail because the tree will find all the sneaky ways of giving you wishes, even at your own expense.
The final part of the tour is a safari.
This 100% is going to be a bumpy part of the trip. Buckle up. You will feel the car going up and down and hear the screeching sound of the bushes going along the vehicle’s body. On this ride, you will see a small canyon and the local rural population going about their day. You finish the ride with a beautiful view of the Atlantic ocean around the Varadero highway.
Don’t forget about Downtown Varadero!
Though not huge, downtown Varadero has a few things to offer.
We explored the beaches on one side of the downtown overlooking the peninsula. We also checked out the artisan markets, filled with souvenir options. Calle 64 was the leading tourist destination, filled with restaurants, dancing, and shops.
We ate at Varadero 60. Famed for its seafood, it offers fresh grilled fish, lobster, and seafood pasta. It was better than hotel food, and we recommend checking this place out when you are in Varadero.
And that was that for our trip to Cuba.
We loved exploring Cuba and all its diversity. From the beautiful architecture of Havana to the beaches of Varadero, it was stunning. From all the adventures to chill drinks and food, it was exciting.
We will be back.
All content in the post, including recommendations and opinions, are our own.