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Cayo Largo Archives - Air Canada Vacations

26 Nov

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7 Resorts for an Unforgettable New Year’s

November 26, 2015 | By |

Tired of the same-old, blasé New Year’s plans? We know the feeling – that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best places to ring in 2016. Exciting, luxurious, and boasting sand over snow, here are our top picks to kick-start your year.

1. Grand Bahia Principe Coba

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The Grand Bahia Principe Coba in Riviera Maya offers great value for the whole family. There’s a waterpark and shows for kids, a golf course and casino for adults, and a beautiful beach for all only a short distance away (and yes, transportation to the beach is included!). It’s also part of our PLAY collection, which means everyone gets an exclusive flight experience and kids stay and eat for free. If that’s not impressive, then try this: stay in exclusive rooms with prime locations, thanks to our Privileges program.

2. Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an

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Say hello to 2016 in style at the adults-only Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This resort exudes elegance with its minimalist, modern décor and supremely outfitted rooms. And what’s a romantic getaway without 24-hour room service, waiter service at the beach, or “After Golf” treatments at the on-site spa? We especially love the spa’s Vitamin Bar, where you can enjoy exotic natural fruit juices.

3. Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica

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The Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica is another excellent option for a family vacation. Situated right on the beach in Runaway Bay, there are 3 interconnected lake-style pools with 2 areas specially reserved for children. We’re also quite taken with the green spaces, tropical gardens and abundance of wildlife (keep your eyes peeled to spot long-tailed hummingbirds and green turtles). Bonus: Air Canada Vacations guests enjoy all the PLAY perks and access to an exclusive room section near the ocean.

4. Luxury Bahia Principe Runaway Bay

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The Luxury Bahia Principe Runaway Bay is an adults-only paradise and a definite contender for New Year’s. Since early this year, the resort has undergone extensive upgrades and by December 2015, there will be many new additions to experience firsthand. These include a new swimming pool, a swim-up bar, a lounge and “chill out” areas.

5. Meliá Jardines del Rey

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Treat your family to ultimate comfort at Meliá Jardines del Rey in Cayo Coco, Cuba. This 5-star beachfront resort has nightly entertainment, 3 swimming pools (don’t miss their pool parties with bubbles!) and designated activities and facilities for kids, including a playground and paddling pool.

6. Playa Costa Verde

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Another family favourite is Playa Costa Verde in Holguin, Cuba – and not just because it’s part of our PLAY program. Located directly on the beach, we particularly love the availability of snacks 24/7 (you never know when you’re going to get the munchies, right?), salsa dance classes, and introductory scuba lessons in the pool. Be sure to take advantage of the morning room service, which means continental breakfast delivered to your door!

7. Sol Pelicano

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The Sol Pelicano in Cayo Largo, Cuba, is a nature lover’s dream. Bring the whole family and check out their renowned turtle observation program, which includes egg-laying and the release of baby turtles. Combined with ecological excursions, this resort has everything to make your next family vacation an adventure!

With the holidays around the corner, there’s no better time than now to start making plans for New Year’s. Get started today!

24 Jul

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Cuba’s 7 Best Beaches

July 24, 2015 | By |

The island of Cuba has some 300 beaches spread across 600 km, so choosing the best is no mean feat. How white is the sand? How soft? How turquoise and clear is the water? And what are the options if you’re looking for something a little more energetic than napping in the sun? These are our 7 favourites, but Cuba averages 330 days of sunshine a year, so you have plenty of time to explore.

1) Varadero

Varadero beach

Probably the most famous beach of all, Varadero’s soft, white sand stretches an incredible 20 km. It’s well developed so you’ll find lots of activities, watersports, and all-inclusive resorts offering stress-free vacations. Off the beach you’ll find intriguing caves and a chain of offshore islands surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. You’re also only 140 km from Havana, which means you can easily spend a few days in the historic capital. The streets and fortifications of Old Havana are a World Heritage site and well worth a visit.

2) Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo

Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo beach

Ernest Hemingway was enchanted by the towering dunes of Playa Pilar in the gorgeous Jardines del Rey archipelago. In fact, this area was the inspiration for parts of his book Islands in the Stream. Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, tiny islands joined to the mainland by a causeway, have immaculate beaches with excellent diving, snorkelling and tons of watersports. Playa Pilar is well known as the most beautiful of them all for its perfect white sand, swaying palms and warm clear waters. There may not be much traditional Cuban culture here, but you will definitely enjoy the mojitos and piña coladas.

3) Playa Flamingo, Cayo Coco

Playa Flamingo, Cayo Coco beach

This undeveloped beach on Cayo Coco will feel like your own little secret of white sand, and turquoise water. Cayo Coco is Cuba’s fourth largest island and has nine beaches over 22 km. There’s rich, indigenous vegetation here and over 150 different species of bird, including the graceful flamingo, hence the name of the beach.

4) Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos

Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos

These protected crescents of soft, warm sand are located on the tiny islet of Cayo Ensenachos in La Cayería del Norte. The land here drops off very slowly allowing you to wade out to 90 m or more in crystal clear waters. As an added attraction, the sea is calm here all year round, so there are no worries about getting red flag days (no swimming). Both beaches are incredibly beautiful, but Playa Ensenachos is closer to the resorts, which is perfect if you’re in the mood for something a little more upbeat. Playa Megano is more removed and is the spot if you’re looking for relaxation.

5) Playa Periquillo, Cayo Santa Maria

Playa Periquillo, Cayo Santa Maria beach

Cayo Santa Maria is part of a vacation area of three islets (cayos): Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas (a.k.a Los Cayos de Villa Clara), all of which are part of the UNESCO-recognized Buenavista Biosphere Reserve. There is great diving and snorkelling here as well as bird watching, especially on the south coast of Santa Maria, which is dominated by salt marshes and mangroves. Playa Periquillo is a low-lying crescent of white sand and warm water. The shallow waters are great for bonefishing and long, sun-filled walks. Further out are coral reefs and a wreck perfect for diving.

6) Guardalavaca, HolguinGuardalavaca, Holguin beach

Holguin is Cuba’s most attractive resort area. The beaches of white sand and clear water stretch forever, occasionally interrupted by secluded coves and some elegant resorts. The town is quite charming and history buffs will enjoy some of the island’s best pre-Columbian archeological sites. As to the name of this area, it does mean “guard the cow,” a possible malapropism of guarda la barca, “guard the ship.” This area was once a frequent target of pirates. The name, then, would be a call to arms.

7) Playa Paraíso, Cayo Largo del SurPlaya Paraíso, Cayo Largo del Sur beach

Playa Paraíso is the most outstanding of all the beaches on this secluded islet. There are no permanent residents on Cayo Largo, which means it’s very quiet, calm and undisturbed. There’s a thriving coral reef, lots of wildlife including iguanas, and beaches for days. On Playa Paraíso (literally paradise beach) there’s a beachside restaurant and not much else, which is really what it’s all about.

Is one of these beaches calling your name? For more information or to start planning your Cuban getaway, check out our Cuba travel page.

26 Jun

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The true Cuba

June 26, 2015 | By |

Some things in Cuba are so classic they never go out of style and really should be part of every trip.

Endless beaches

With 330 days of sunshine every year and more than 500 km of soft sand spread across 400 beaches, Cuba has earned its reputation for some of the best beaches in the world. Enjoy lots of watersports, relaxation and fun in the sun. Kids will love it too because most of the beaches are sheltered, calm and warm.

Eco-tourism

With about 25% of the island protected either as National Parks or Nature Reserves, there is a growing trend for getting out and exploring. Try hiking, trekking, cycling, horseback riding, caving and cave diving, bird watching, or nature photography—whatever will inspire you and get you feeling connected.

Classic cars

An estimated 60,000 vintage cars are still in Cuba. As a proof of the ingenuity of the Cuban people, since no new parts have been shipped to Cuba since the early 60s, they either manufacture their own replacement parts or repurpose parts from older Soviet vehicles to keep them running. The cars are beautiful labours of love.

Timeless music & culture

The warmth and charm of the Cuban people is alive in their music. The rhythms of Son Mambo and Cha Cha Cha are celebrated and shared. So too is the architecture, faith, art, literature and cuisine—all a fusion of indigenous, African, French, Asian and Spanish influences.

Old-school rum

Maestros Roneros (rum masters) have been refining their knowledge and skills for generations. The result is a world-famous tradition of quality and taste. Visit the Museum of Rum in Havana or Barrita el Caney in Santiago de Cuba, and be sure to ask for a sip of extra old for a new taste experience.

Storied streets

Cuba has more World Heritage Sites than any other Caribbean country. Extraordinary historical cities are scattered throughout the island. Havana Vieja and its impressive fortifications, the historic centre of Cienfuegos, the town of Trinidad in the province of Sancti Spiritus, and the winding streets of Camagüey should top any must-see list.

 

26 Jun

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The new Cuba

June 26, 2015 | By |

Since 2014, Eloy Govea Rodríguez has been the Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto. Originally from Cuba, he shares his unique perspective on this island and what you can look forward to when you visit.

How has Cuba changed over the years?

Tourism in Cuba has grown a lot in recent years. We now have 10 international airports and resorts for every kind of traveller with lots of facilities and options. But we’ve also worked to preserve our culture and heritage. We have 10 World Heritage sites, 257 national monuments and 332 museums.

What will surprise us most about Cuba?

Over a quarter of the island is protected, which means you can experience some really amazing natural habitats.

Why does Cuba have such enduring appeal?

The people! Cubans are very friendly and happy to share their culture.

What’s the best place to visit in Havana?

Havana was recently declared one of the New Seven Wonder Cities so there’s a lot to see. I definitely recommend Old Havana. Those old streets are very charming.

What can families look forward to most?

Families will love how peaceful and safe this island is. You can visit with even the youngest traveller and they’ll have a great time.

One thing we all have to try?

Combine the beach with the cities. Cuba has incredible beaches but get to a city centre to experience the music, the life of the island.

What’s the best part about a vacation in Cuba?

You mean aside from everything I’ve just mentioned? Maybe the fact that Cuba is still

very affordable and only three and a half hours from Canada.

One thing we all have to bring home?

Cuban cigars, of course. Cuban rum and music are also great.

 

26 Jun

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Cuba: What’s old is new again

June 26, 2015 | By |

Cuba has a life, an energy, and a passion that are truly unique. A vacation here is a journey along endless white-sand, a trip down a cobblestone street, and a night on the town with locals helping you find the island rhythm.

Cuba has changed a lot in recent years and the vacation options have grown along with it.

Air Canada Vacations now flies to six destinations across the island and offers resorts for every style, from quietly simple, to grand luxury, with decadent rooms and superior service. You’ll also find family-friendly resorts on calm beaches with features like waterparks and more, making this a truly affordable family destination.

Welcome to the island.

 

30 Apr

By

Brighter Cuba

April 30, 2014 | By |

Canadians love Cuba! And with good reason. It’s the best value for an all-inclusive vacation, plus it’s a really quick non-stop flight, which means you’re on the beach in just a few hours. Air Canada Vacations flies to six separate areas of the island and offers you a huge choice of resorts on long, powder-white beaches with warm turquoise waters. But that’s not the end of it. Eco-adventures in World Heritage nature reserves, inspiring history, romantic architecture and unforgettable music that reaches deep inside will have you wishing that every day could be a Cuba day.

30 Apr

By

The best of Cuba

April 30, 2014 | By |

Cayo Coco / Cayo Guillermo

This pair of immaculate islands is a great choice for beach and water sports lovers. Quietly secluded, the abundance of wildlife here is wonderful to witness.

What not to miss: Boat adventure

Pilot your own jungle boat through the mangroves. Next, snorkel the colourful waters of Cayo Guillermo.

Varadero

Take your pick of beachfront resorts for all styles and tastes. In recent years eco-adventures have grown in popularity at the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, and the Zapata Biosphere Reserve.

What not to miss: Day trip to Havana

See the sights like the Capitolio, Revolution Square and a local market. Also enjoy a Cuban lunch and a visit to a traditional cigar factory.

La Habana

In 1982, Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and as you wander its colourful streets, it’s easy to understand why.

What not to miss: Hemingway’s Cuba

Visit the Finca Vigia Museum, sip a daiquiri at La Terraza de Cojimar and visit Papa’s room at the Ambos Mundos Hotel.

Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara)

Spectacular Cayo Santa Maria is a true tropical paradise. Enjoy secluded, elegant resorts, long beaches, virgin mangrove and spectacular coral reefs.

What not to miss: A night in Remedios

See the sights and take in a show. Treat yourself to dinner in town to really make a night of it.

Holguin

Esmeralda, Pesquero and Guardalavaca are some of the most stunning beaches in the world. Of historical interest, visit Castro’s childhood in nearby Birán.

What not to miss: Jeep adventure

Cross the wild and majestic Cuban countryside. Visit Bariay, Columbus’s first landing site, before taking a speed boat to a local restaurant for lunch.

Cayo Largo del Sur

This sandy island is all about R’nR. The beaches are absolutely beautiful and native wildlife, like flamingos, iguanas and Cuba’s tiny bee hummingbird are everywhere you look.

What not to miss: Snorkelling Cayo Iguana Visit Iguana Island, which really does earn its name, and snorkel the colourful coral reef. Open bar on the yacht for the trip back.

02 Jan

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Your trip to Cuba

January 2, 2014 | By |

Cayo Largo and Santa Clara promise great diving and snorkelling. Varadero is a 21-kilometre stretch of fine white sand beaches, and a sure bet for golf lovers. And Cayo Coco and Holguin offer fun, cultural activities in an ideal tropical setting.

Fast facts

Language: Spanish is the official language.

Electricity: 110 or 220 Volts

Currency: Cuban Convertible peso (CUC)

Famous Landmark: Castillo del Morro, the picturesque fortress guarding the entrance to Havana Bay.

To do list

Two Colonial Cities

Santa Clara

Start off the tour with a visit to the city of Sancti Spíritus. Then, head to Trinidad, founded in the 16th century. Enjoy an authentic Cuban lunch, followed by leisure time.

Spectacular Ciego de Avila

Cayo Coco

Visit Ciego de Avila and see a local cigar house, then tour the historical city centre. Break for lunch, then enjoy a horse and buggy tour and boat ride.

Jeep Adventour

Holguin

Discover beautiful Cuban landscapes, and Bariay National Monument Park, Columbus’s landing site in 1492. Next, take a speedboat tour and go horseback riding. Enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant.

Habana Colonial

Varadero and other cities

Discover the magic of Havana. Stroll through old Havana’s ancient squares, and drive through modern Havana to visit the Capitolio building and Revolution Square. Next, stop at an arts and craft market.

Did you know?

  • The Cubans refer to their island as “El Cocodrilo.” Viewed from above, Cuba is said to resemble a crocodile.
  • When Christopher Columbus first happened upon Cuba in 1492, he thought he had landed in China.
  • Cuba is the birthplace of Bacardi Rum, although Bacard moved to Puerto Rico after Castro’s takeover.