Cuba is a country filled with so much history, so when Tom, Mum, Dad & I were discussing where to go we knew we couldn’t go to Cuba without going to Havana.
Mum, Dad & I have been to Cuba twice before but it was Toms first time. We decided on 3 nights in Havana and 4 nights in Varadero at the beach (unfortunately we were limited with how much time we could have off work so mum and dad stayed on longer after Tom & I).
We flew with Virgin Atlantic and the flight went really quickly. We had a good selection of films, refreshments throughout, and the food was surprisingly good. I’d really recommend pre-selecting seats, as it meant we didn’t have anyone behind us and I chose to be far away from the toilets but close to the drinks.
It took under an hour to get from the airport to our hotel (Iberostar Parque Central). The location was awesome, on one of the main squares of the old town, and we were just a few minutes from traditional Cuban restaurants and streets.
Our hotel had a rooftop pool with the most awesome views over Havana, and it was a massive luxury to have a pool on the city section of the holiday. I’d definitely come back to this hotel. Breakfast was average, but the hotel had live music in the lobby piano bar all day and evening.
We spent hours wandering around the city and every place we stopped to eat or for drinks always had a live band; they seemed to pop up everywhere.
One night we ate in something called a Paladar. It’s where a house has been converted to a small family style restaurant. It varies between a set menu or with options and you really are in someone’s front room. They also can vary greatly in size, but they are all government approved. Quite often you’ll be approached by staff while walking and they will take you to it as they’re off the main streets. This could seem a little dodgy but you have the security of being government approved, or you can find one closer to the main streets. I never felt unsafe in our whole time in Havana, and all the locals we encountered were friendly and very informative.
The great thing about Paladars is that it is the best way to try local traditional food. My meal was shredded pork with rice & beans, green beans, banana crisps and salad. It was simple but the meat was tasty and it was fresh.
At around 2pm we got our transfer to Varadero, which took about 2 1/2 hours, and we arrived in time for a swim and then dinner followed by drinks.
Our time in varadero was purely for relaxing, time to swim in the sea, sunbathe and chill.
Plenty of book reading time, and enjoying being together as it’s my only trip with my parents this year.
The beach was ridiculously beautiful, the sea was calm in the mornings and did pick up a little in the afternoon, and the hotel had sailing, kayaking & pedaloes for guest use whenever. One afternoon we went Jet Skiing 10 minutes from the hotel, starting in the backwaters and then heading out to sea.Dad & I.
Our guide took us to a section of backwaters that had an enclosure in the water. We got into the enclosure in the sea and a man dived down and picked up a couple of starfish and handed them to us. He then reached in and caught a nurse shark for us to stroke. I was petrified but it’s lack of teeth were reassuring, and it was so smooth!! Unfortunately as we got here by jet ski we had no means of taking photos.
We had a great time in Cuba and I think my favourite thing is that Cuba feels very alive with music.