I travelled to Cuba for the first time this January. I choose the Duo Tour with Sunwing. It allowed me and the 3 friends I travelled with to explore both Havana AND Varadero.
We arrived at the Varadero Airport and were warmly greeted by the Sunwing staff and directed to the correct shuttle. The transfer to Havana is not a short one, about 3 hours in total with the stops (and almost being dropped off at the wrong hotel!). We finally made it to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Amazing building but the rooms could use an update. The Duo tours are definitely not for everyone as our stay in Havana was not all inclusive. We had to find our own food and entertainment. The hotel was helpful in recommending restaurants but you were then on your own to find it and some of them look more like houses then actual restaurants. A helpful hint, street signs are on stone blocks on the ground!
As for entertainment, there is an abundance of things to do in Havana. Our one goal was to see a baseball game. Cubans love their baseball! It was a big game between 2 rival areas. The stadium was so loud with cheering and those wonderfully annoying horns. It was amazing to be a part of. Other options are visiting Old Havana, seeing the show at Tropicana and a wide variety of museums.
After our 3 days in Havana we headed to Varadero for some beach time. Again transfer time is not short as things don’t move so quickly in Cuba. Luckily we were in no hurry. We arrived at Melia Las Antillas and before we knew it we had a drink in hand and were all checked in. This resort is beautiful, it has large grounds, a nice swimming pool and of course a beautiful beach. There are 3 specialty restaurants and 1 buffet. We tried 2 of the 3 and ate at the buffet every day, numerous times! Don Peperone, the Italian restaurant was nothing spectacular but El Conuco, the Caribbean restaurant was very good. My favorite was probably the buffet. On the nights we went to the specialty restaurants, we would stop at the buffet for “first dinner” at 630pm before heading to “second dinner” at 8pm.
The resort has entertainment every night with an hour long show on the stage by the pool and then a band playing in the lobby bar. During the day they have games by the pool but it is a 16+ resort so most of the time it was just quiet and relaxing. The resort is not close to the town of Varadero but there are scooters you can rent for either a half or full day. My friend and I rented one each for the day and explored all that Varadero had to offer. The town is full of shops and restaurants to keep you busy for hours. We ventured away from the town as well and found Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, a small nature reserve with a hiking trail and a bar!
Overall I loved my time in Cuba. I would recommend it to anyone with a sense of adventure and a willingness to see a completely different culture and way of life.
Ask your travel agent about it today!