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5 reasons to explore Cuba

In a tropical oasis like Cuba, there is so much to see and discover you may not be able to fit it all into one stay. To make sure you get the most out of your vacation, we’ve compiled a list of five things you need to know about this Caribbean island so that you can experience it to the fullest.

White-sand beach surrounded by palm trees with palapas dotting the shore
Experience one of the world’s best beaches

It’s probably the desktop screen for everyone wishing to escape the daily grind and relax in the sun. Featuring over 21km of pristine white sand that meets aquamarine waters and azure skies, Varadero is home to what is arguably one of the best beaches in the world. With so much beach to enjoy, you’ll have ample space to pull up a lounge chair, kick back and let the day while away. You might need all that rest though because at night Varadero comes alive with festivals – especially in the summer - and there are numerous nightclubs too.

Where to stay: You know what makes relaxing on the beach even better? Peace and quiet. Paradisus Princesa del Mar is an adults only resort that offers all the tranquility you could hope for as it’s located right on 1.5km of Varadero’s white sand in a natural setting. If that’s not enough, you can also upgrade to Paradisus’ Royal Service to experience gourmet dining, exclusive facilities, butler service and much more.

Old colonial buildings of Havana
Follow in Hemingway’s footsteps

It served as Hemingway’s inspiration for some of his classic stories such as The Old Man and the Sea and to this day Havana still feels like it’s frozen in time. Classic cars from the 1950s, which have been lovingly maintained over the years, still drive sedately around the Cuban capital’s paved streets. A favourite excursion here is to take in the broad avenues, sea walls and shady squares on a city tour in a classic car. Afterwards, maybe join a walking tour that allows you to visit some of Hemingway's favourite haunts, including his home, La Vigia. Old Havana is also a must-see, where you can stroll through cobblestone streets to traditional squares like the Plaza Vieja and Plaza de Armas with stately buildings like the Iglesia Catedral de La Habana, and the Antiguo Convento de San Francisco de Asís nearby.

Where to stay: Just minutes from Old Havana and its attractions is Meliá Cohiba, a charming property that features an atmospheric cigar lounge that hosts live jazz sessions throughout the week, along with a refreshing swimming pool and five different restaurants to choose from.

Pool area surrounded by pool chairs, lush palms and verdant gardens
Discover a natural paradise

From colourful marine life and one of the largest pink-flamingo colonies in the world, to lush forests and stunning white-sand beaches, Cayo Coco is an eco paradise. Start your nature experience with some snorkelling or scuba diving where you’ll see lots of marine life like stingrays, turtles and trumpet fish, as well as colourful coral—the waters here are quite gentle so you’ll have great visibility as you’re exploring. You can also easily explore the southern Cayos, Cayo Largo, to take part in turtle observation programs; where depending on the season you can watch turtles hatch and make their journey out to sea for the first time. Or, you can simply enjoy the scenery of the beach and swaying palm trees around you while relaxing under a palapa.

Where to stay: You can catch glimpses of the pink flamingo colony while staying at the adults only Meliá Cayo Coco. Situated along a stunning beachfront, this resort features stylish suites that sit over a natural saltwater lagoon—perfect for feeling like you’re truly a part of Cuba’s beautiful nature. Or, if you want to see some adorable turtles, Sol Cayo Largo collaborates with the Commission for the Environment and the Marina Cayo Largo to provide special incubation areas for the turtles to lay their eggs and keep them protected.

Small waterfall with a pool at the bottom surrounded by lush forest
Take a stroll through the City of Parks

There are at least six parks in Holguin’s city centre, each boasting lush and colourful gardens. In the outskirts you’ll find majestic mountains and tropical forests that appear virtually untouched. By the coast there are stunning beaches and underwater dive sites to explore. As Cuba’s fourth-largest city, Holguin is also home to many charming resorts that offer easy access to numerous eco excursions designed to show you the best of this beautiful Cuban landscape: enjoy stunning views of the Sierra Maestra Mountains, or take a thrilling Jeep Safari tour to the beautiful oasis of Pinares de Mayari where you’ll see one of the tallest waterfalls in Cuba, or admire the countryside while riding an antique train.

Where to stay: Continue to admire Holguin’s natural beauty from a spacious room at Paradisus Rio de Oro Resort and Spa, a top-rated luxury resort just for adults. Overlooking a spectacular coral reef, this winner of the 2018 TripAdvisor® Traveler’s Choice award features comfy hammocks and Bali Beds perfect for relaxing while enjoying those amazing views.

Colonial buildings with a patio out front
Experience Cayo Santa Maria's rich history

Most think of Havana when they consider history in Cuba, but there’s much to discover in the quiet Cuban oasis that is Cayo Santa Maria. While the area is normally recognized for its beautiful beaches and relaxing atmosphere, its history is also quite interesting and worth discovering. There are a number of sightseeing tours where you can explore Santa Clara and the small colonial town of Remedios, where you’ll see an old church that is recognized as the second-oldest building on the island; you could visit a cigar factory to learn how cigars are made or you can wander Revolution Square and admire its historical monuments and churches.

Where to stay: Chat with your friends and family about the experience over frosty tropical drinks at one of the 11 bars at Meliá Las Dunas, a relaxing resort that caters to all types of travellers with a dedicated section for adults and for families. Plus, at night the main boulevard leading through the resort becomes an entertainment and gastronomic focus with cultural shows, live music and culinary delights.

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