Well the time is approaching very, very fast, cant believe we fly out in just 7 days. Will be different going at Christmas but there are 15 of us in the family going so shouldnt be too bad. I do have a wierd question - do they celebrate xmas in Cuba? Just wondering if it will be xmassy there or ??? Also, we are staying at the Playa Caleta which is in Varadero. I have been to Cuba several times but never stayed right in Varadero. Any ideas on what tours to take or things to see? We are travelling with a big group the youngest is 7 and the oldest is 59. Any comments are appreciated.
We stayed at the Playa Caleta in January of 2006. When we arrived on the 3rd there was an enormous Christmas tree in the front lobby and decorations throughout the area there. They stayed up for the entire week we were there - so I assume that they do celebrate on some level or at least accomodate guests who are celebrating.
I actually found it disconcerting, because I had packed up Christmas at home before heading to Varadero and to be confronted by it again in a hot climate took me some time to get used to.
I hope you enjoy your trip. The cheapest thing you can do is the double decker bus for 5 CUC.
You can board it in the morning and ride all day around the peninsula exploring, getting off and on at will.
There is a Nature preserve that is a self guided walk that my family quite enjoyed. It takes about an hour and is quite interesting. In 2006 it cost 3 CUC’s a person. If you do go please be careful of the huge holes that open up into underground caves complete with running water. Very interesting but the holes in the ground could swallow a small child easily were they to run ahead without noticing what’s underfoot.
My husband and teenage sons all enjoyed the jeep safari tour. When we stayed there the Playa Caleta offered shuttle service into town to the markets a few times a day.
You might want to check out Havana (about 2 hours away), but if not, there is also a beautiful Park (Josone) and other things to explore in and around Varadero.
There are many other tours offered. My best advise is to go to the welcome/orientation meeting with your tour rep. They will be able to give you lists of possibilities and prices.
I agree about the double-decker bus–do take it as it gives you a good perspective on the Varadero area. The Jonsone (sp?) Park right in Varadero is a lovely, peaceful place to visit. We did a catamaran trip from the far end of the peninsula. It was great fun, complete with a lobster lunch on an island. There is a cave worth exploring near Matanzas, I think it is. (It’s been awhile! : ) There is lots to do and see in Varadero! I’m sure you will hear other good suggestions.
Christmas Eve will be the night in Cuba for the festivities (next to New Year’s Eve) over the holidays. I would think your buffet dinner will be, even despite food shortages, quite spectacular. The resort should be decked out in Christmas decorations, and Santa may make an appearance on the beach! Enjoy your holiday!
We just got back this morning from Playa Caleta and yes, it’s decked out for Christmas although the decorations are hilarious. Wedding flowers, Valentines sculptures, twinkling lights and whatever else they could find are all thrown in together. The only thing missing was the Easter Bunny. The resort is the same as always - wonderful staff, clean rooms, great pool and nice beach so I’m sure you’ll have a good time. The food is not great as is the case in EVERY hotel in Varadero so I would suggest eating in town when you can as it is so much better. There’s a great Italian place called Dante’s right in Park Josone and you easily spend an afternoon in the park. Right behind is is a little theme park with rides, bowling and activities suitable for kids. It’s called “Includio” so just ask. One of my favourite places to eat is called La Taberna on Beach Ave between 13th and 14th right on the beach. Great food, cheap and superb location. For young adults and young at heart, there is a Snack Bar called Calle 62 at 62nd Street. It looks like nothing but turns into a great outdoor street dance every night where Cubans and tourists mix and party. Personally, I dislike any of the organized tours and most people tell me they don’t feel they are worth it except perhaps the jeep safari. I would however find my way to Havana and depending on how many in your group go, I’d suggest a private taxi and driver. The cost for 4 or 5 people would work out to less per person than taking the organized bus tour and, you’d have a much better trip. (If you’d like a name and number of a taxi guide who is outstanding, PM me for details). The double decker bus is well worth the money as mentioned above. Between the resort activities and a few off-site days, the time will fly and I’m sure you’ll have a great time.