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Cuba destinations - Varadero, Cuba
Varadero began to be developed as a summer vacation resort in the 1940s, but it wasn't until the last ten years that its network of hotels and other facilities was given an unprecedented boost. Its tourist offer was diversified and upgraded at the same time.
Its main attraction has always been its marvellous beach, but this isn't all it has to offer. You can explore its caves and escarpments, a necklace of virgin cays that are easy to get to and the carefully preserved natural landscape at the northeastern end of the peninsula. In addition, Cárdenas, the nearby city of Matanzas, the Zapata Peninsula and the San Miguel de los Baños Spa offer cultural, historic and natural attractions.
Varadero's Plaza América Conference Center has all the facilities needed for conference and incentive tourism.
Varadero is a free port and has exceptionally good conditions for scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, yachting and other water sports.
HOW TO GET HERE
Varadero's Juan Gualberto Gómez International Airport receives direct flights not only from other parts of North and Central America and the Caribbean but also from Europe, South America and Africa.
A scenic highway links Varadero with Havana, 83 miles (134 km) away, and the Central Highway and National Throughway connect it with other regions.
If you prefer to come by boat, you can choose among three marinas: the Chapelín, Gaviota and Puertosol Dársena de Varadero.
The peninsula is in Matanzas Province, in western Cuba. It is separated from the mainland by a manmade navigation canal which links the Straits of Florida and the Bay of Cárdenas. Hicacos Point Natural Park is on the peninsula's northeastern tip.
ARTISTIC CERAMICS WORKSHOP
This important institution produces limited runs of high-quality ceramics.
HICACOS POINT NATURAL PARK
This natural park, located on the northeastern tip of the peninsula, was declared an ecological preserve in 1974. Its 312 hectares contain many specimens of Varadero's flora and fauna. It has the largest, best preserved woods and coastal ecosystem in the area.
In late 1999, Varadero had a total of 11,245 hotel rooms, in 42 hotels. Only one hotel, with 42 rooms, is for health tourism. The 41 others, with 11,203 rooms, are for beach tourism. Other facilities: The growing number of options now available to visitors in Varadero will fill your free time-both during the day and at night-with pleasure.
DURING THE DAY
We recommend visits to Ambrosio's Cave, "El Patriarca" ("The Patriarch"), Mangón Lake, the Museum of Municipal History, Santa Elvira Church, the Art Gallery, the Artistic Ceramics Workshop, the Dolphin Aquarium and Josone Park.
Thanks to the International Parachuting Center, you can also get to know Varadero from the air, with a tandem jump (in a two-person parachute).
No tour of this region would be complete without a game at the Varadero Golf Club; a tour of Bellamar Cave; and visits to Cárdenas (where the Cuban flag was first flown), the nearby city of Matanzas, the Zapata Peninsula and the San Miguel de los Baños Spa.
MUSEUM OF MUNICIPAL HISTORY
This museum is housed in one of the first frame houses built in Varadero. It is in the bungalow style typical of the southern part of the United States, and its roof is of tiles made in the area. This is one of the most beautiful and best-cared-for of the many houses of this style that were built here. Its exhibits depict the history of the Hicacos Peninsula.
The gallery has exhibits of paintings, sculpture, engravings, silk-screen prints, fabrics, photos, and originals and reproductions by important Matanzas artists. It also puts on shows of works by contemporary Cuban painters.
Trained dolphins put on shows, after which you can swim alongside these graceful mammals, if you like.
The park covers nine hectares of grounds, most of which have been left in their natural state. There are four restaurants-Antigüedades, Retiro, Dante and La Campana-specializing in international, Italian and Cuban cuisine, with cocktails, meat, fish and shellfish; an establishment selling sugarcane juice; and a bar, La Gruta, on the shores of a lake.
You can explore the park on foot, by bicycle, in a horse-drawn carriage or by boat. It has a swimming pool and a party room for children. This is an ideal place for banquets, business dinners and parties. In addition, you can rent lockers here for when you go swimming at the beach. For all these reasons, Josone Park is called "a green paradise inside the blue one".