Best things to do in Varadero
Find out more about those top places in Varadero
Situated at the tip of the ruler-straight Hicacos Peninsula, which stretches from the Cuban coast towards the Bahamas, Varadero is Cuba’s premier holiday resort. While Varadero is not the place to go for authentic Cuban experiences, it is the ideal place to unwind after a tour of the country’s hidden gems. The resort town’s biggest draw is undoubtedly the seemingly endless stretch of pristine golden sand that connects it to the mainland, which forms one of the Caribbean’s most iconic beaches. The town itself is juxtaposed between faded colonial-era houses and gargantuan hotels, which have everything from entertainment, top-quality restaurants and organized boat trips to nearby coral reefs.
Undoubtedly the most unique attraction to be found in Varadero is the Cueva de Ambrosio. Discovered in 1961, this mammoth cave system is home to a plethora of pre-Columbian drawings that are etched onto stonewalls and are thought to be a form of solar calendar. Guided tours by torchlight are available and make for an unforgettable experience.
The perfect place for people watching is Parque Josone, where you can immerse yourself in Cuban culture. The immaculate gardens were the one time private reserve of the nearby Retiro Josone but were expropriated following the revolution and have remained in public hands ever since. Today, it is the perfect place to go boating on tranquil lakes and ride a mini-train around its many tree-lined paths.
The seas off the coast of Varadero are teeming with marine life and there is no better way to experience this than on a dolphin safari. Departing the town early in the day, these thrilling boat tours take you to the spots where you are most likely to see these remarkable animals.
One of the most enchanting day trips from Varadero is to the Yumurí Valley, which is one of Cuba’s most spectacular landscapes. As there is little to no infrastructure in the area, the best way to explore is via organized tours that take you Rancho Gaviota, where you can feast on a hearty Cuban meal, before taking in the sites of Puente Bacunayagua, Monserrate Heights and Bellamar Caves, which have impressive halls of stalactites and stalagmites.
One hour by boat from Varadero is the beguiling underwater world of Cayo Piedras del Nortre, where a variety of old ships, vehicles and even buildings have been deliberately sunk to the depths of the sea. On scuba diving and snorkeling tours you can explore this otherworldly marine landscape, which has become a haven for tropical fish.