So we went on honeymoon to cuba back in August 2014. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long to write this… Actually that’s not true, it’s because I made the mistake of becoming a teacher and now spend 60+ hours a week working! Followed by school holidays spent comatose and drooling in front of the TV.
For those of you who don’t know, varadero is the resort area. The place where western tourists go to forget their drizzly lives and sit on a beach/by the pool 12 hours a day.
Many travellers will tell you ‘it’s a waste of time,’ or ‘you won’t truly be visiting cuba’ or ‘it’s capitalism at its worst’. And they might be right about the last two, but for a honeymooning couple or even for a regular holiday it’s truly fantastic. We spent five nights in the Hicacos Resort and Spa, which is a truly luxurious adult only resort.
We arrived, straight off a bus, in our typical travelling clothes. We had yet to get into our ‘nice clothes’ which we’d been saving for this part of the trip. We were led into a lobby area where we were given champagne before someone came to us to check us in. It’s a far cry from a typical resort experience.
Once checked in we were led to our room. A beautiful room with a balcony and a bathroom…. It was bigger than our flat in south east London. We quickly settled in and wandered off to explore.
We discovered a small pool and quiet courtyard with beds just behind our block. We wandered down a sandy track at the back and discovered the most perfect tropical beach. At first I was a little disappointed the sea was not felt-tipped coloured like the small cove we’d found near the bay of pigs, but the white sand which stretched for miles really made up for it. Finally we wandered back to the resort and found the main pool, which was separated into different areas all built around a pool bar. We were at home (if our home were much, much better).
In terms of the town itself, there was little to offer. A small shopping centre accessed via a taxi ride hosted a few shops, fast food restaurants and cash machines. Other than that, I believe there was a night club. But that wasn’t a problem for us – we were here to relax! We spent five nights indulging completely. If you’ve never done it before, I’d recommend it.
Warning: it may spoil you. Although it didn’t take long for our sense of adventure to come back.
Each day we awoke to a buffet breakfast (a really good one) before trundling down to the beach until 6 when we made our way to the pool for a piña colada and a swim. The evenings were spent drinking all inclusive champagne in a range of bars, listening to a range of music and eating in one of the four restaurants.
On one of the delightfully lazy days, Tim took to the sea to try his hand at scuba diving. He liked it. I worried. I’m not a fan of the sea at the best of times, let alone anyone being so far out of their depth they need an oxygen tank. Nevertheless Tim thought it was great and he saw lots of tropical fish.
The resort also hosts a spa which offers all the usual treatments. We opted for a couples massage and I can honestly say I’ve never been so relaxed. I’ve never liked massages before or since, but this one was fantastic. We were left in a small, scented, dimly lit room to get ourselves out of our beach wear and into paper pants. Next we hopped onto two massage beds and the therapists returned. There was some friendly chat to settle us in and then they really got to work. I think Tim fell asleep. Afterwards, I felt like I was floating as I stepped outside and back into the Caribbean sun. Perfect.
So all in all I disagree with many other travellers – I would recommend a trip to Varadero… But if you’re going to make a long trip there, I’d also recommend spending some time ‘travelling’ first. I loved our time at the resort but I’m glad I got to know ‘the real’ Cuba first.