I returned to Varadero in January 2014 to visit the Varadero City Museum. Some of you may know that Varadero has been a tourism destination since the 19th century with numerous upgraded hotels, holiday facilities and tourist promotions. In January 2014 I visited the Varadero Municipal Museum. The museum is an attraction you simply can’t afford to miss while in town. At just 1 CUC entrance fee, it’s worth your time and money and offers incredible insight into how Varadero turned from being a sandy peninsula on Cuba´s north coast to the mega resort it is today. There’s a small cafe inside and drinks and refreshments for sale in the main entrance (see photo). The Varadero Museum is easily accessible from all Varadero Hotels and is situated in the downtown area. Its also right next to the Varadero Car Rental office on 30th street so, if you’re picking up or dropping of your rent a car in Varadero then to kill some time its just a few minutes walk away.
I visited the two story wooden facility which displays an in depth history of Varadero and how it’s grown over these decades. I met the curator of the museum who informed me that it is one of the most recent tourism elements added to the many Varadero attractions and covers the 3 some decades from the late 70´s until today. It doesn’t only tell you all about the history of Varadero but also shows you images of development since the beginning until the present day. The museum has the furniture antiques of the past and also old maps which are also known as the first cartographic samples of the 16th century. It holds the history of the original peninsula of Hicacos, official documents and indigenous petro glyphs found in caves in the Matanzas region.
Old maps of the peninsula of Hicacos can be found in the halls of the building and also, pictographic reproductions of indigenous people found in the caves, you will also see some original documents of the history of Varadero. This Varadero centered museum exhibits several artifacts and information narrating the history of Varadero, these includes maps, personal effects, testimonials, documents and objects of historic importance, patriotic and significant figures that helped shape and build this city, they are all displayed inside the small unassuming wooden building of museum. If you are not enthralled by the contents of this Museum of Varadero, the architecture of the building should be enough for you to want to visit. The buildings architecture is based on vibrant colors of antique wood and other materials from tropical gardens; you can just admire the traditional architectural style the building was designed in.
After paying my insignificant 1CUC for entrance I was allowed to enter the Varadero Museum located on Calle 57 y Playa Varadero, Matanzas. Opening times are Tuesday through Saturday from 10.am till 5.pm. The photos that can be taken from the windows of Varadero museum are worth 1 CUC by themselves, the view is idyllic being an amazing seascape. The central location makes it one of the easiest and most interesting, fun places to visit while in town. It is situated just right of the beach and then next to the building is a small Cuban paladar restaurant which will feature in my next Varadero review. Honestly, if you get a chance to visit this Varadero museum, then it’s honestly worth the time to give you an idea how Varadero has evolved over the decades.
Parque Josone Varadero
A visit to Varadero Cuba is not complete without a visit to this beautiful park and lush gardens. Our Jessica Gutierrez from the Havana office of VaraderReviews.com visited the park in October 2013 and this is her review of Parque Josone Varadero.
Josone Park, Varadero, is characterized by its extensive gardens with a pleasant fresh water lake over which a large arched bridge (see photo of Jessica) spans. The park is an oasis for migrating birds that nest in the trees within the park and also the resident ducks and swans that live here all year round. Over recent years, the manager of the park has slowly included other bird species like macaws, parrots, flamingos, and even ostriches.
The Parque Josone Varadero history dates back to 1935 when then director of the Arrechavala rum factory, a Spanish immigrant from the Basque region businessman José Fermín Iturrioz bought one of the first plots of land in Varadero, situated around a natural lagoon that is today the parks lake . The first house was built in 1938 followed by the neoclassical style mansion which is today the park’s main building, restaurant, souvenir shop and cafeteria.
Mr. Iturrioz and his family lived in the mansion; while the smaller house (now a restaurant looking out over the lake) were the servant’s quarters. One of the odd quirks of the park underlines Mr. Iturrioz´s obvious eccentricity. The Varadero Beach is just 60 meters from the entrance of Parque Josone by simply crossing, what was then, an empty street. However, the owner dedicded that walking out over the 60 meter strech was not private enough so he built a tunnel, from his house, to the sea… This tunnel remains to this day and brings those who enter it out to the diving center located at its mouth.
The Josone Park Varadero is a special place in the Varadero Peninsula, not to be missed if you are vacationing here. This park is composed of a beautiful artificial lake with rowboats available to rent. Four excellent restaurants are strewn across the grounds. First up is the “Dante”, offering Italian food. Second is the “La Campana” serving Cuban Creole food (can anyone say Black beans & pork?). Third is the restuarant “Antiguedades” which serves a large menu of local caught fresh seafood. Finally, there´s the El Retiro which serves a nice mix of international food.
For the kids, there’s bowling, shooting range, boating on the lake, and a large pool, all on the walled property of nearly eight acres.
The manager, with whom I spoke, says that each year over 500 000 tourists visit this park but, many don’t even know it exists.., so that’s why I thought I’d give you all a heads-up. I think his numbers are a little overzealous judging by how quiet and tranquil the Parque Josone Varadero felt to me but, the park is truly a masterpiece and well worth the visit. The best part is Admission is free!!
Travelucion Review Team – Havana Cuba
Our Jessica Gutierrez from the Havana office of VaraderReviews.com visited the Xanadu Mansion Varadero in September 2013 and this is her review of this historic ex-Dupont family home in Varadero.
The Xanadu Mansion Varadero shows you two things, first is that the Dupont family had taste, their ex-summer retreat and vacation home is beautifully built and high on one of the few hills in Varadero, offering dramatic views of the coastline and the whole peninsula of Varadero.
Xanadu Mansion Varadero is situated within the only 18-hole golf course in Cuba which was built in 1998 and which replaced the Dupont built 9 hole course built in 1933. The Dupont Mansion is located next to the Bella Costa Resort and just up the coast from the Tuxpan resort .
Today, the now Xanadu Golf Club can also be visited for an overnight stay in one of its 6 luxury rooms divided into 5 Double and 1 Single. If you fancy a round of golf with the family, then miniature golf is available just down the street at El Golfito, at the corner of the Avenida 1 and Calle 42.
The Xanadu Mansion Varadero is worth a visit, especially if you incorporate it into a stroll down Varadero´s idyllic white sand beach as I did.
Travelucion Review Team – Havana Cuba
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Address: Calle 21 no.102, Varadero 42200, Cuba
The VaraderoReviews.com team ate at Paladar La Vaca Rosada Varadero which quaintly means “the pink cow”. We were offered a free drink while perusing the menu of white rum, milk, grenadine and crushed ice which was a perfect way to enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant while we decided on our meal. We ordered bruschetta with melted cheese topping for our starter followed by a (very large) lobster and prawn pizza and another member of our crew had a steak with sautéed potatoes and Cuban black beans called frijoles. The pizza was big enough to serve two and was packed with large prawns and tender lobster. The steak was asked for “well done” and arrived a tad raw so we asked for another 2 minutes of the grill. The waitress happily obliged and within a few minutes it was back and perfect.
The owner “Even” even came over with it as probably a gesture and asked us if everything was now fine. A nice touch we thought.
After the meal we ordered two cappuccinos and asked for ice and a class, the waitress looked puzzled but brought them anyway. When then proceeded to make our own delicious iced coffee which was fantastic, especially with the real Cuban coffee the cappuccino was made from. The views from the terrace of Paladar La Vaca Rosada Varadero are idyllic so we sat and savored the sunset and ocean breeze. It was a perfect end to a memorable dining experience in Varadero. Total cost was 29 CUC ($32 or 22 euros) which we considered very reasonable.
If you are looking to get out of the cattle heard at your Varadero All-Inclusive we heartily recommend Paladar La Vaca Rosada Varadero.
Address: Primera Avenida y Calle 1, Varadero, Cuba
Hotel Club Kawama Varadero is a 3 star. Upon arrival we were greeted well, attentive hotel staff.
Hotel Club Kawama Varadero is in very good condition.The resort is large so that they can take a room near the beach or the bar, the pool. Each area of the hotel has its positive side depending on what you prefer. The Hotel Club Kawama Varadero pool is spotless with many sun loungers. There is a buffet where breakfast, lunch and dinner is served. There is also a a la carte restaurant menu and you have to book the day before (9 to 10am). Rooms are clean and comfortable, with a TV and a balcony. We liked the location of the Hotel Club Kawama Varadero, close to everything and away from the loud music. On the beach you can use free kayaks and small boats or very comfortable pedal boats.
At Hotel Club Kawama Varadero you can get all day hamburgers, hot dogs, ham and cheese sandwiches and pizza. The breakfast, lunch and dinner are in the buffet, you can dine in the a la carte restaurant but, as stated, reservations are required. The breakfast is complete; Eggs, omelets, bacon, juice, coffee, cappuccino, chocolate and biscuits and pastries as some pudding. Lunch and dinner ranges from pork, beef, chicken and fish, everything always served with rice, beans, salads and other dishes. You can eat well at Hotel Club Kawama Varadero. For dessert cakes, many, bread pudding, ice cream and fruit.
The location of the hotel in our opinion is excellent. The center of Varadero is just around the corner, the main street extends 2/3km, is just a rather long street where you will find many artisan markets, bars and restaurants and rental bikes (recommended) among other things.
You can snorkel leisurely on the beach because the water is clear. Hotel Club Kawama Varadero offers snorkeling, scuba diving, an incredible experience. Catamaran to Cayo Blanco is available as a payable excursion but quite cheap. Hotel Club Kawama Varadero is flawless our rating is EXCELLENT! I liked all the common facilities, the staff, the food; the view of gardens is perfect! But perhaps the best thing is the beach is undoubtedly spectacular, large, and clean, with lots of amenities!
Hotel CLUB KAWAMA Varadero is one of the few hotels that do not require prepayment or deposit to Book.
Address: Avenida Las Americas Km 31/2, Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba
Breezes Bella Costa Varadero consists of 396 rooms for single double or triple occupancy and also has 6 Villas within the grounds. It is one of the few hotels in Cuba where two kids can share with parents in the same room.
The hotel is situated on the Varadero Beach and between the hotel and the sea is a large fresh water pool and Cuban thatched style poolside bar. The building is designed to offer 5 floors on the eastern wing and 4 floors on the western. Views from both wings are the same with upper rooms and suites offering the better views of the ocean with first level rooms offering views of the pool area.
This family-friendly, all inclusive resort is surrounded by vast gardens and rests on a gorgeous stretch of Varadero white sand beach. Although not a new hotel, the Breezes Bella Costa is well kept and remains of a high standard. Apart from the all-inclusive buffet the hotel also has three a la carte restaurants which offer El Mirador (Cuban), Martinos (Italian) and a Munasan (Japanese), all three are worth booking to visit and make a nice change from the buffet. The buffet itself offers a wide variety of food for every taste and is open for breakfast lunch and dinner. Those who eat smaller breakfasts can simply take a sandwich and coffee at the excellent poolside restaurant/bar.
Breezes Bella Costa Varadero is a family friendly hotel in so much as the kids club entertainment is exceptional and will keep the little ones well occupied throughout the day. There are also some excellent services such as: 2 tennis courts, whirlpool/Jacuzzi, kids’ playground, theatre, gym. The Las Brisas pool bar is a great meeting point and is always full of interesting people.
During the early evening the Piano Bar is the Breezes Bella Costa resorts main venue before and after dinner to hear some amazing music and chill out. Then after, either the beach bar or one of the 5 resort bars will keep the rhythm flowing until either the Night Club closes at 3am or you retired earlier to take full advantage of the next day.
Finally, Breezes Bella Costa reception staff offer amazing excursions to the adjacent Cayo Blanco snorkeling paradise right up to Havana overnight stays. Basically everything you need to make your stay in Cuba that little bit more special.
It’s with wholehearted honesty repeat quests recommend Breezes Bella Costa Varadero and the main reason why this resort is simply just so good.
Hotel BREEZES BELLA COSTA Varadero is one of the few hotels that do not require prepayment or deposit to Book.
Address: Parque Natural de Punta Hicacos, Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba.
Melia Peninsula Varadero is the new name of the Tryp Peninsula Varadero Hotel but, this is not a simple name change we will have you know. This hotel has undergone a two year transformation bringing it back to modern 5 star standards. Rooms have undergone a total refurbishment (2013) along with modernized TV´s and TV signal, more channels, new bathrooms and added room features. Two new restaurants have also been added to the a la carte list Japanese Sakura, and French Le Bistro, raising to five the specialized restaurants in the hotel. Therefore, the hotel now offers no less than five different food options. But, the old Tryp Peninsula Varadero was probably one of Varadero´s best resorts for many reasons and this update and renaming to Melia Peninsula Varadero can only mean that the best just got even better.
Melia Peninsula Varadero has a lot of rooms, in fact 586 Double rooms, 5 sumptuous Suites and 20 small colonial style bungalows with up to 3 floors. Yes, this is large hotel but, the land area this hotel covers is enormous. The main reason why so many rooms can be offered in just 2 storey cabana type buildings is to spread these liberally over the whole plot and, that is what Melia has done with this hotel. The privacy and mini colonial style buildings littered around the grounds mean that it’s more like a small village than a hotel complex. Of course, distances between areas can be a bonus or a drawback depending on your idea of the ideal hotel but, for our tastes, the Melia Peninsula in Varadero is an icon, probably one of the best if not THE BEST hotel in the whole of Varadero. Why such a lofty claim? Well, first of all, it’s the spaciousness that makes this Varadero resort unique, seldom does so much land get used on one property. Secondly, the amenities are perfectly spread out; the kid’s area is divine with slides and a castle in the kids pool which is only knee deep. The reception is vast colonial style building with wooden rafters, piano bar and sofas surrounding a central garden and water feature. You cross a bridge over a beautiful lake complete with carps and other freshwater creatures to access the main buffet, the beach is also ideally located. It’s just so right, it’s hard to put this into words. However, if you or anyone in your group is of limited mobility then take note, this resort which was a great place to stroll, quickly becomes a big obstacle course. On the other hand, the flat pathways make wandering or moving around in a wheelchair a synch. In essence; its vastness is both a delight and refreshing.
The food at this hotel is another strong point. Of course, at a 5 star hotel one expects excellent quality and, Melia Peninsula Varadero provides this at any one of the 5 eateries onsite. The main buffet called Palma Real, reachable from reception and also via the aforementioned bridge, is the main breakfast, lunch and dinner eating area. A la carte restaurants are the La Gondola (near the beach) which offers excellent Italian cuisines, the La Laguna which offers a variety of international dishes which make it hard to place a name on the food region but it’s all good. The Mexican Restaurant called Tocororo is a great choice if you enjoy this type of food but certain dishes are quite spicy. The final two restaurants are the Sakura Japanese restaurant and the stellar French restaurant called Le Bistro. An amazing assortment of restaurants and food from various continents mean you are going to enjoy eating (a lot) at Varadero Melia Peninsula.
Varadero´s Melia Peninsula also offers pretty amazing entertainment both day and night. World class shows emerge from the amphitheatre located right next to the buffet restaurant. You will no doubt be surprised by the absolute dedication demonstrated by every member of the entertainment team.
If you´ve read this to here you will know that we adored the Tryp Peninsula Varadero and are simply overwhelmed by the new improved, renamed Melia Peninsula Varadero, it’s just one of those places where the sum of its parts is greater than the whole, truly outstanding and well, well recommended.
Hotel MELIA PENINSULA Varadero is one of the few hotels that do not require prepayment or deposit to Book.
Address: Autopista Sur, Carretera Las Morlas, Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba
No kids? The adults only Melia Las Antillas Varadero could be exactly what you´re looking for in Hotel. Guests must be over 16 with no exceptions. The four star Melia Las Antillas is one of Cuba´s few “suite only” resorts where rooms are large and impressive. Choose between sea and garden views from the 346 junior suites available or one of the 4 luxurious and bewilderingly impressive Suites. And this can be had at a reasonable price believe it or not because the Las Antillas Varadero is not particularly expensive when bringing into consideration the impressive rooms and all inclusive status the hotel offers. Categorized as a 4 star Plus, it’s unclear why the Melia Group have not simply labeled the hotel a 5 star because it lacks nothing available at similar properties touting the 5 star entrance sign.
Particularly impressive are the sea view suites which overlook the unmistakable white sand of Varadero and the distant Cayo Blanco Island. Food at this resort is impressive to say the least, the “Los Tainos” buffet is an massive spread of varieties to cater for all tastes. The fresh fish should be high on any fish lovers list also. For those with patience to book in advance there’s the exquisite “El Romántico” gourmet restaurant with an amazing array of international wines to choose from. Or you could also pre-book the “Don Peperone” Italian restaurant which is also excellent but not as good as the Romantico.For poolside snacks and also some quite elaborate cocktails try the “El Conuco” snack bar.
Close to Varadero´s “swim with Dolphins” Dolphinarium and, just down the street from the Main drag in Varadero and further along to the large shopping complex Plaza Americas, Melia Las Antillas sits on a gigantic six hectares of prime Varadero land right next to the beach.
The hotel offers 2 of the most elaborate swimming pools we´ve ever seen, sort of mixture of exotic gardens and spa with small bridges and archways running through the whole pool area. As an adults only hotel the Health Center and gymnasium is equally as impressive and ideal for those looking to keep active on this vacation. Due to the immense hotel grounds, the Melia Las Antillas even has a private jogging track which must be a first at any hotel in the Caribbean. Add this to; aerobic, archery, beach volleyball, tai chi, yoga, stretching, billiard, darts, football, motorcycle rental, petanque, table tennis, shuffle board and, it makes for a presumably intensively active holiday.
As mentioned, Melia Las Antillas at Varadero is an adult only (over 16) resort and as such caters for those couples or singles looking for adult entertainment 24/7. The discotheque is particularly good compared to hotels who do accept youngsters and definitely more international “disco” than others. Likewise, restaurants, bars and common areas of the hotel are specifically focused towards adult guests.
By and large, Melia Las Antillas at Varadero is a good hotel with plenty of pluses and very few minuses and well worth the 4star rate when in effect, it resembles in almost every way a 5 star property.
Hotel MELIA LAS ANTILLAS Varadero is one of the few hotels that do not require prepayment or deposit to Book.
Address: Avda. Las Américas y Calle K, Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba
Swim up bar anyone? Sol Sirenas Coral at Varadero has obviously a lot more to offer than that. Considered one of Varadero´s older hotels it has nothing to envy the new siblings from Melia or any other hotel chain for that matter. What you get with Sol Sirenas Coral is a well proven hotel with years of history, each one of those years perfecting the attention given to guests. Yes, this hotel is not a new pretender trying to get things right but, a true performer with a history of making guests happy. Age has its advantages in many departments. For instance, the grounds of the hotel, its exotic foliage, its gardens and manicured palms all show they had been there for a long time. Almost natural one could say. Other advantages of age are that, while newer hotels are being built further and further along the 18KM (11 miles) peninsula called Varadero, the Sol Sirenas Coral Varadero is comfortably “in town” you could say. Basically, if you, like us, think that things get better with age then you´ll adore the Sol Sirenas Coral hotel.
Of course, we can´t talk about this hotel without mentioning its beach location which, quite frankly is perfect, being on just the right bit of Varadero´s beach to miss the strong winds sometimes swirling around the extreme end of the peninsula where newer hotels have been forced to locate. Wandering around this place is like visiting a botanical garden and we can´t say enough about how beautiful the grounds of this hotel really are. Not a small hotel by any means with its 644 double or single rooms, 10 gigantic junior suites on the beach and 6 astonishing Suites which offer 120 square meters (yes that’s 1300 square feet), Sol Sirenas Coral in Varadero seems to hide it size quite well due to the aforementioned tropical forest like grounds. This also means that a certain amount of privacy is possible despite the massive guest list at the hotel. Conveniently spaced within these gardens are 3 big pools, two of which have children’s areas while the third is clearly for adults only but no limitations are set by the hotel.
This place is pretty much a “family with kid’s” paradise. Even if you visit with a baby, this hotel is one of the few to offer a baby club along with its Mini-club for older children. And then there´s the myriad of things to do; aerobics, archery, beach soccer, shooting range, pool tables, badminton, beach volleyball, dancing lessons, tennis courts, French bowls court, Handball – Basketball court, bicycles, catamarans and even a football pitch. Yes, this hotel is large and really does offer an incredible amount of entertainment. Of the 2 theatres at the hotel, one is covered (presumably for the rare rainy nights) and the other is open air. Night time shows are divine and varied to suit all tastes.
Fundamentally, if you are planning to visit Varadero and you have kids or not, this well established hotel should be high on your list of choices. Many newer hotels seem to sound attractive due to their “newness” but few get the ensemble of your stay “just right” as the Sol Sirenas Coral Varadero does.
Highlights close by are the (swim with dolphins) dolphinarium, parque josone, Varadero´s old town with its minimarkets and vibrant life, the mini amusement arcade with rides and, last but not least the idyllic beach we call Varadero.
Sol Sirenas Coral Varadero is a well rounded 4 star hotel not pretending to be new but, much better for its age than most would think, overall a great choice.
Hotel SOL SIRENAS CORAL Varadero is one of the few hotels that do not require prepayment or deposit to Book.