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From the perfect Caribbean beaches to the melting pot of cultures in frenetic Havana, the scale of this country is immense. Cuba is the 16th largest island in the world, almost the size of England or Pennsylvania.

Much of the landscape is dominated by pine forests which fuels the country's large lumber industry although tourism, which began to really boom in 2003 is now being embraced as another major source of income.

An irregular coastline offers hundreds of secluded bays and the beaches rank among the best in the world.

Huge 1950's American cars still hog the busy streets, especially in the capital where crumbling Spanish architecture conjures up a cocktail of bygone days. Many of the old buildings have been preserved and restored to their former glory.

The Cuban people have deservedly earned themselves a reputation for being among the most welcoming and friendly islanders in the Caribbean.

Note: Poverty can be seen in parts of the cities and although begging is illegal it still exists.

  • Many of the tourist beaches are patrolled by guards.
  • The sea temperature is pleasant throughout the year and hots up in late August. The coolest time is December to March.
  • The Caribbean weather is unpredictable. June to November is the hurricane season and short sharp tropical storms occur most afternoons.
  • Heavy downpours often cause power cuts and poor road conditions.
  • Jelly fish can appear but usually when sea is rough enough to bring them ashore.
  • Tourism workers rely on tips, 10% of the bill is appreciated by waiters and taxi drivers.
  • Petty crime is common in the towns where pickpockets and bag snatchers operate.
  • 'Cuban' cigars sold by street traders are rarely the genuine article.
Language: Spanish

Flight time: 10 - 10� hours from UK

Currency: Cuban Peso -American travellers' cheques and credit cards drawn on American banks are not accepted. Exchanging US Dollars incurs a 10% charge.

Time Difference from UK: GMT - 5 hours.

Weather: Tropical storms are common especially between June and November. Most of the time they are nothing more than heavy downpours, but occasionally one might develop into a hurricane. Humidity is at its highest from August to October

Excursions: Enjoy Cuba with a good guide book In Association with
  • Havana - Havana is a noisy, bustling mix of culture and character which has earned its title of 'World heritage Site'. It has a population of nearly 3 million people who all seem to drive vintage American cars. Trips to Havana usually include a tour of the famous Partagas Cigar Factory, the Rum Museum and Fuerza Castle, in addition to its historical sites and opulent mansions.
  • Bellamar Cave - Deep in the cliff overlooking Matanzas Bay is Bellamar Cave, with its impressively beautiful galleries and passageways. Enjoy a guided tour of the cave and a refreshing cocktail.
    Departure: 2.00 p.m. Return: 5.00 p.m.
  • Hemingway Museum - Hemingway built an incredible life for himself in Cuba and it's possible to retrace his steps by visiting some of his haunts: the writer�s former home, now the Hemingway Museum is sometimes closed to the public so check before setting out.


Varadero on the Atlantic coast is a two-hour drive from Havana and has been officially designated one of the top ten beaches in the world.

Millionaires used the resort as their playground and Al Capone was a regular visitor, his former residence is now a restaurant.

The 12-mile 'Blue Beach', as it is often called, is lined with sprawling hotel complexes surrounded by acres of lush tropical gardens and sandy shorelines.

The resort offers its own famous golf course and a shopping mall with limited choice; mainly casual clothing outlets, souvenier and jewellers shops and a few bars.

Very little of the original old town has survived but what is left of the streets and wooden houses are worth a visit.


A long, spectacular tropical beach of soft, clean sand fringed by palm trees and lapped by the warm waters of the Atlantic.

In places the sand gives way to rocks but most of the hotels along this stretch tend and maintain their patch of the coastline.

Be prepared for traders peddling their wares, even in the sea!

Days Out:

A tourist road-train or horse drawn carriage links most of the hotels with the resort's other ammenities.

Scuba diving along the coral reefs and sunken caves is a popular pastime. The Varadero caves are there to be explored by day and provide entertainment by way of dancing at night.

Not many other Caribbean islands offer as many important archeological sites as Cuba, and Varadero has at least 14 which are freely accessible, including the fascinating cave drawings at Cueva de San Ambrosio.

Water-skiing, kayaking and catamaran trips are also on offer.

Golfers can book a round on the local 18-hole championship course marked by picturesque lagoons in the British �links� tradition.

A modern shopping centre incorporates restaurants and amusement arcades.

Nights Out:

Nearby restaurants cater for every taste with Cuban, Asian Italian and Spanish dishes on the menu as-well-as local barbecued meat and fish.

Back to Cuba Main Guide


Because of its remote location, Guardalavaca is not ideally situated for site seeing and therefore attracts people who're content with a beach holiday.

It is also much smaller than Varadero and is reached through green hills and fields of sugar cane leading down to the pretty coastline.


If it's beaches you crave this stretch of coastline offers three � Esmerelda, Pesquero and Guardalavaca itself, all of them picture-postcard pretty, with soft, fine sand, many offering water sports galore.

The sea tends to be calm thanks to the protection of the coral reefs which are teeming with marine life and have become a magnet for scuba divers or snorkellers.

Days Out:

Horse and cart rides around the resort are a quaint way of siteseeing.

A coach ride away is Havana (see above) and Trinidad, another bustling city with narrow cobbled streets leading to churches and colonial buidlings.

Shopping is limited to the hotels and a modest commercial centre offering plenty of cigars and other tourist tat.

Nights Out: A few local bars offer a change of scenery from the hotel ammenities but most visitors tend to avoid them.

As for local restaurants, the hotels cater for most of the tourists with their all-inclusive offerings so there are few people with any appetite left.

Back to Cuba Main Guide

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