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If you could start over again


Knowing what you know about Cuba, where would you go in Cuba if you could start all over again? Which is the place you would encourage a first-timer to visit, to give the best idea of Cuba?

For me it would still be Brisas Sierra Mar, because it is a beautiful resort and the people are wonderful. They have great Cuban music, and you can go into Bahia Larga at the end of the road, or into Chivirico. Visiting Santiago is a great treat, especially because it is one of the oldest cities from the 16th Century, and a World Heritage Site (Spanish fortress). Santiago is the birthplace of son music, and the music, art and architecture spills into the streets.

Part of me thinks Varadero is a good start though, because it’s a huge beach, you can check out other hotels, and it’s a nice trip into Havana.

Or do you think a first trip should be a place like Cayo Coco with just lots of beach and relaxation?

Would love to hear all thoughts! :slight_smile:


Cayo Largo. While it’s super safe and still relatively unspoiled. Then, maybe Varadero to see the “Progress” and get an idea of what’s to come.
After that, only small resorts in non-trendy areas or maybe just Casa’s.
I would love to speak more Spanish and recommend it to all who visit Cuba.


This could be a good thread to follow. Been to Cuba once, several years ago. We stayed in Varadero. Toured Havana. It was the first of April and the pools were soooo frigid. Is that normal? Would like to go back to Cuba again, but torn on where to go and WHEN is the best time.


For a first timer who wants a busy vacation with lots to see, an opportunity to see Havana, long beach, off resort night clubs etc, I’d recommend Varadero.
For super beaches and a relaxing pace, the Cayos.
We like the Holguin area because it’s not as built up as Varadero and compared to the resorts we went to in Varadero, the foods better and the staff are generally nicer. The beaches, while not miles long, are quite decent and the resorts well cared for.
As Spunky says, knowing Spanish would be a big asset.


Normally pools are not heated - since the sun does a pretty good job. If you want heat, Santiago is always very hot!


Our first trip to Cuba was the result of extensive research, much of which was done with the helps of this site. From what we learned we chose the CVJ in Jibacoa with more than a little trepidation. For myself I don’t think we could have chosen a better place. My SO, while enjoying the CVJ wanted us to explore other locations and / or higher star resorts. We have done both but keep returning to the CVJ. For us it is just about perfect. I am sure we will explore other areas but this resort has become our ‘home’ in Cuba…:wink:



If I could start over ???
I would not change a thing.
Cayo Largo has all that we want.
That beach with the bar at the end of a wonderful walk is worth it all by itself.


verycoldcanadian, which resort in Cayo Largo? Having been to Cuba 15 times but never been to Cayo Largo. Thanks


Cayo Largo sounds like the place to go. Where? And what is the best time of year to go?


I wouldn’t change a thing about my first visit to Cuba. I did zero research and my TA booked me to Sol Cayo Santa Maria when it was the only hotel on the beach. Absolute paradise! It could not have suited me better. I think if my first experience had been anywhere else, I would have been less likely to return. Now, of course, that beach is wall to wall hotels, so it would be totally different. These days I would more likely choose Cayo Largo. :wink:


CL is just a few 2 to 3.5 star resorts and 24Km of mostly deserted beach.
All of the hotels are owned by the Cubans and two are managed by Sol Melia.
They are all about the same; just some extras here and some fewer features there. Pretty much follows price in the off season but is a little crazy in high season. Three of the members who posted here have been there multiple times and keep going back.


Hmmm, Cayo Largo, is there a Playa Blanca or something like that there. Ran into a member of this forum in El Salvador who raved about Playa Blanca.


Playa Blanca is our favourite but to tell the truth, it’s hard to go wrong on Cayo Largo.
We are a little off topic here. If you want, a Cayo Largo topic could be started in my new favourite place “Under the Palapa” or here in the General Cuba Board.


Our first experience going anywhere south was Cuba and we’ve been back there every year since. Our first hotel was the Melia Cayo Guillermo (before the hurricane).

We all remember our first look at the palm trees, the color of the water that took our breath away… I was particularly enchanted by all the hamacks under the palm trees between the beach and the bungalows. One day I saw a young mum lazily snoozing with her small child in a hamack and I thought, yep THIS is heaven! ;D


Cl is not for everyone.
Nudity is the norm and people that go there just to look really
P!$$ me off but if you are a " live and let live " person , without
gay prejudices , does not whine about food quality compared to other places, enjoys just being with your special other, and comfortable in your own skin and not judgmental
( stress " mental ") about others that are comfortable with whatever they were given in life, then CL may be for you.
If any of the previous offends you, then please go elsewhere.

In answer to the questions, we stay at the Sol club but PB is very nice by all accounts. We stay at Sol because after 7 or 8 trips
we have staff that remember us and I never have to say how I like my eggs in the morning or what goes into my drink mug, or how I like my coffee in the morning.
When I go there I feel like I am home.


Hmmm Varadero would be my choice Villa Cuba (our favorite) to be exact, one of the older resorts, lots of history then I would suggest a taxi ride to Havana fits in nicely

Miss the ninth floor bar with the fantastic views of Varadero


Cayo Largo or Cayo Santa Maria. Going back to MCSM in 2 weeks for the second time this year. It was between the MCSM and SCL and the better price was the MCSM.


Oh Babas, please tell us all about the Melia when u get back.

We went there about 6 years ago and although the beach was to die for, we found the resort to be rather, how shall I say it… boring. The music in the lobby after supper reminded me of Lawrence Welk (need I say more) and there was not much atmosphere in general (this was an adults-only AI back then, mostly over 40).
We also had requested an upper floor room (this was end of January, and the hotel was not full) but was given a ground-floor musty one instead with a delightful view of… a hedge. We asked for an upgrade but they said it was not possible because some buildings were closed (which was evident, so not doubting their answer, just the service…)

I was 50 then but felt like 30! ;D

p.s. Don’t be concerned with my comments; this was long ago and recent comments are good, so bon voyage and watch out for the rum trees and low-flying mojitos! ;D


Zendudette, we were there in April and loved it. This will be my 4th trip to the same resort. It isn’t a party place just like Cayo Largo isn’t a party place. It’s no longer adults-only, but we didn’t see a lot of kids either. Kind of far to travel with little ones (90 minute drive from the airport after hours of flying).

The only complaint we had was the constant music both at the pool and the beach. I know the animation team needs music for certain activities, but when nothing’s going on, turn the damn boom-boom beat off especially at the beach! Even the beach bartender was getting tired of it. We did find a quieter spot on the beach near the aquatic sports centre and ended up there every day.

If you want to party, I guess you can always go to one of the Pueblas as there are discos and bowling alleys, but you have to pay. Not my cup of tea when I’ve paid for an all-inclusive. The general clientele of CSM is adults who like quiet. If you love to party, I suggest Varadero. Just my opinion.


If I could start over again…

I don’t think I could or should change a thing. 2005 was our 10th anniversary year and since we didn’t really have much of a honeymoon, big things were expected.

So we dropped 6 grand on a 4 star trip with dolphin swim and excursions etc and loved it all.

2 years later we did a big 4 star family trip for 4 grand and really got into Cuba when we found out there was life outside the resort.

The following year we had no money saved for a trip (it was taking 2 years at those prices to save up) so we took a flyer on a 2 star called Don Lino in Holguin for 1 grand, and had the best time ever spending most of our time off the resort getting to know the locals. Needless to say at the those prices we could afford to go every year and have ever since.

This year, for us, Don Lino has gotten too big so we’re once again going into the unknown and planning on trying Los Galeones in Santiago. Back up to 2 grand but that’s ok. :slight_smile:

So I think the question of If you could start over…, the answer is…the person you are today is a result of the decisions you made in the beginning.

I think I’m a better Cuban tourist because I’ve experienced the differences in the high and low end resorts, and there’s no short cut to that kind of education. IMO