Cuba is one of my favourite islands. I've travelled there 5 times and the last time was this trip in March 2020 before all the lockdowns.
I love Cuba because the beaches are phenomenal, the people are warm & genuine, the Cuban island vibe is so different from other places that it feels like you sort of go back in time. I also really love the music & can listen to Salsa all day! I love that I never get sick & the fact that it's so safe.
As of now (Dec. 2020) all of Cuba is open for tourism! The good thing is you only need to take a negative PCR test no more then 72 hours prior to arrival and you will also be required to take one at the airport and you need to wait in your hotel room for 24 hours until you get your results back and if you're negative, you can enjoy your trip! Depending on when you read this, things may have changed so be sure to check the status and what you need to travel there.
These are my recommendations for a trip to Varadero for couples.
WHERE TO STAY
Royalton Hicacos Resort Varadero
This is my favourite Adults Only 5-star resort in Varadero because it actually is a 5-star. The star rating in Cuba is so different because I've been to another 5-star that was more like a 3-star and a 3-star that felt more like a 4-star. So don't simply rely on the star rating.
This hotel is clean! We had no issue with the room. It was high-end, the shower was very big & the bathroom was super clean. The hotel grounds are beautiful and clean! Lots of great photo opportunities. They also have a really nice cigar lounge which we spent a lot of time at. They have great music at the lobby bar and the vibe there is like a really nice lounge so definitely head over there after dinner.
The food here even at the buffet restaurant is amazing! People complain about the food in Cuba but it depends on which hotel you go to. Here the food is amazing.
We paid more to upgrade to the Diamond Club which was really worth the money. There are tons of perks but the ones I love was you had a nice coffee maker with coffee pods in the room that I used all the time, your room came with 4 bottles of alcohol (2 wine, 1 sparkling & 1 rum) restocked every night if you somehow drank them all. I also liked that we had butler service and 24-hour room services, plus we had a separate section on the beach with butler service.
So if you can, definitely upgrade to the Diamond Club.
PS: I have a detailed YouTube video on Everything You Need To Know Before Travelling To Cuba, so be sure to check that out as it will answer a lot of your questions.
Melia Las Americas
This is another beautiful Adults Only 5-star resort in Varadero that is located walking distance to Plaza America shopping center.
I love this hotel as well because they have amazing bungalow rooms if you upgrade to The Level (which we did and it's definitely worth it.) Right now they are renovating the hotel which should be ready in March 2021.
The hotel grounds are beautiful, the rooms are very clean. They don't have the nice coffee makers the Royalton Diamond Club but upgrade to The Level you do also get 24-hour room service. I do like their little lounge/night club near the main lobby area.
Their food here is great too, especially the a-la-carte restaurants. As part of The Level upgrade, we were able to book a romantic dinner on the beach once during our stay, which was fantastic.
PS: Check out my vlog from this trip where we stayed at the Melia Las Americas in March of 2020.
Casa Aguas Azules Varadero
If you're looking for a cheaper and a more local experience, I highly recommend this gorgeous & clean beachfront AirBnB. It's in downtown Varadero on the most pristine perfect beach that mostly the locals and other AirBnBs use.
You can see perfect sunsets from that beach. The house is all white and as you walk from the front door you can see down the corridor the beach on the other end of the house, it sort of reminds you Greece. The house comes with breakfast and WiFi but I believe the WiFi was extra.
The hosts live in the house with you and are really nice kind people. They have a cute little dog as well.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK
The Beetles Bar
Yes, this is a bar in Varadero that is dedicated to The Beetles! They play all their music but in the evenings they have great American rock live bands here that play music from the 60s to the 90s. This is a great place for drinks and it's live every night.
Cafeteria El Quitrin - Sabor y Naturaleza
We really loved the food here! It was fresh and delicious and lots of flavours. They have a beautiful garden cafe. The only thing was there was one waiter serving the whole restaurant because they were understaffed. We loved their mojitos too! Much better than at the hotels.
I had the Chicken Fajitas with veggies and my fiance had the Half Chicken on the coal with salad & rice. It automatically comes with the sides even though it's not written so no need to order it.
La Casa De Al (Al Capone House)
Yes, that's right this used to be Al Capone's House in Varadero that now is a beachfront restaurant.
It's more casual outdoors but indoors is more of a formal setting. The views are unreal and it's on one of Varadero's most pristine beaches. For a truly romantic experience, see if you can reserve one of the private rooms or be seated on one of the balconies.
WHERE TO SHOP
Walking through the streets of Varadero there are so many great shops including La Casa Del Ron (The Rum House). Walk through and you will find lots of unique things including leather shoes & purses.
This is an outdoor mall with a few bars and restaurants, a place to buy rum, cigars & coffee get a fresh cigar rolled right in front of you.
You can buy clothes here as well and they have more options for clothes. It's located on the beach with direct beach access.
THINGS TO DO
Drinking Pina Coladas on the beach and suntanning are some of my favourite activities but if you get tired of that, here is another suggestion.
Buena Vista Social Club
The music from this group is a classic Cuban Jazz sound that you maybe familiar with. Now the band has new members over the years but the sound is the same! It's a must to visit here. You can either go on your own or buy the tour through your hotel.
Usually, you would get picked up around 9pm and finish the event around 12am and the show itself is about 90 minutes. Your ticket includes free drinks. Try to get the booths on the right side of the venue or in the back that way you have some space to dance!
The cost was about $39-45CUC per person.
PS: Check out my vlog from this trip where you'll see a bit from this night!
Snorkelling & Catamaran Tour with a Lobster Lunch
This was so much fun! It's a full day activity where you sail on a catamaran to a secluded island called Cayo Blanco where you're served a lobster Lunch! The food was really good on this trip and the beach was beautiful but not as beautiful as Varadero. It wasn't as pristine but still nice.
I will warn you, there are some sort of animals walking around the beach and they sniff all over the place for food. They will crawl right under your beach chair! Yes, I got scared a few times but they are harmless just don't try to play with them or pet them.
As you walk onto the beach there is a little beach bar that serves THE BEST PINA COLADAS in all of Cuba. I'm not even exaggerating! You'll have to try it for yourself.
Don't forget to check out my video on Everything You Need To Know Before Travelling To Cuba.
There are so many fun activities like Jeep Safari tours, visiting Vinales where they grow the tobacco, doing a rum and sugar factory tour, visiting a waterfall but we did that, visited Varadero town and Havana but the beach was calling our name so those activities will have to wait for another trip.
I hope you enjoy your time as much as we always do.