Varadero Beach in Cuba is well-known as a tropical destination for Canadians during the freezing month in the Great White North. People who usually go here for the sun, sand and sea are those who are in all-inclusive vacation packages, staying in 3 to 5 star hotels which abound the beach side but far from the main town.
Varadero is a small town on the north of Havana, which is almost a three-hour ride by bus. The main street has a lot restaurants and pubs where they come alive at night. If you’re tired of staying at your hotel bars at night, going here would be a good option. However, be warned: drinks and foods here don’t come cheap. And based on my experience, it’s a bit more expensive than Toronto. It’s way more expensive for backpackers / solo traveler, like me.
There is a direct flight from Toronto (or any parts in Canada) to Varadero.
Tips for Solo Travelers / Backpackers:
Where to stay:
Hostal / Casa El Villareno (30CUC)
Calle 44, #208
e/ 2sa y 3ra Avenue
Find more reviews at TripAdvisor.com
It’s three minutes walk to the beach and 10 minutes walk to the entertainment district (Calle 62). And it’s in a quiet neighbourhood, too, across a mini-park. The homeowners are friendly. You can see the photos of this casa/room here.
The Varadero Beach
The beach is walking distance from the casa I stayed. Most of the photos below are taken from there. Aside from the near proximity of the beach, I love that there are tree shades where you can stay or lie down under when the sun is blazing like fire. In the afternoon, when the locals play beach volleyball, you can actually join them and they’d be glad to let you in.
Facing the beach, if you walk on the long stretch of sand on your right, you’ll be heading towards the direction of where most of the hotels are. But it’s still really far—I didn’t make it there because it was too hot in early May! I was told that the sand quality is a bit better in the hotel area.
The sightseeing bus
Yes, they have a sightseeing bus though there’s really not much to see. This double decker bus services from town centre to the farthest hotel in the area. This is to allow people staying in hotels to visit downtown for local businesses to flourish. It’s only $5, round-trip.
They have taxis, too. You know, those classic cars which Cuba is known for. The locals know that most of the foreigners there are staying in hotels, so they think, they can afford to pay, thus, the price is a bit bloated, for a budget traveler. 😀
A German girl (whom I stayed with in the same casa) and her local Cuban boyfriend from Havana went and I to a Music Club where a famous Cuban musician (I forgot his name) performed but we didn’t finish the mini-concert because the music wasn’t our thing. 😀
They also have a museum and shops for souvenirs. The homeowners recommended me to go to a bar located inside a cave but I didn’t because I had to pay $20 by taxi (one way) and I’m sure the drink price would be a shock to me, too. I told them that I went to the same bar in Trinidad where drinks are only $3!
Varadero is dead during the day. In late afternoon, until wee hours in the morning, the town is alive! The streets are pretty safe as they’re regularly passed by policemen everywhere. The locals, mostly young people roving the streets, are really afraid of these uniformed officers.
Enjoy these photos of Varadero Beach.