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Cuba Archives - Air Canada Vacations

25 Jan

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Cuba for Everyone

January 25, 2017 | By |

Cuba offers endless possibilities. From sizzling nightlife and soulful music to authentic cuisine and delicious cocktails, Cuba embodies fun and romance. And nothing compares to Cuba’s powder-white beaches and sparkling waters, with excellent water sports and outdoor adventures. No matter what type of vacation and resort you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Cuba.

 

Air Canada Vacations flies to five of Cuba’s top areas and offers you tons of choices for families, couples, beach lovers and nature enthusiasts.

 

Find your perfect Cuban vacation now.

23 Aug

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Meet Rodolfo – ACV Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara) Rep

August 23, 2016 | By |

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Planning a trip to Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara), Cuba? From travel tips to local recommendations, get the skinny from someone who knows it best.

1. Name
Rodolfo

2. How long have you been an ACV destination rep?
6 years

3. Describe Cayo Santa Maria in 3 words.
Secluded, charming, the perfect hideaway.

4. Why should people visit?
It has a nice temperature year round and it’s quiet. It offers an incredible colour of the ocean and there is fine sand all over the island for everyone to enjoy.

5. How is Cayo Santa Maria different from Varadero, Holguin, Cayo Coco, and Havana?
This is a quiet area, a little far from the city. However, there are two markets 15 minutes from every hotel and lots of interesting tours to discover the surrounding areas.

6. What is a surprising or little known fact?
I’ll give you both! Surprising fact: to get to Cayo Santa Maria, you cross a 48 KM causeway built in the ocean. Little known fact: there are fresh water lagoons as part of a national park to the eastern side of the island.

7. What local dish do you recommend and where is the best place to try it?
The Cuban congri  (rice and black beans cooked together with spices) is the most representative dish from Cuba along with the roasted pork and boiled manioc (yuca in Spanish). The best place is a casa on the main island; you can also try it during the jeep safari tour.

8. Where is your favourite spot to watch the sunset?
In the middle of the ocean on the Sunset Cruise.

9. Are you able to teach us a few local expressions?
¿Como estas?  = How are you?
¿Que bola? = What`s up?

10. In your opinion, what is a must-do in Cayo Santa Maria?
The catamaran excursion, which includes snorkelling in the world’s second largest coral reef and the best lobster lunch ever.

11. What is the best beach and why?
Megano beach at the Iberostar Ensenachos because of its horseshoe shape and because Cayo Santa Maria island shields it from the northern winds, so it looks like a natural pool.

Curious to know more about Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara), Cuba? Find out more on our website.

25 Jul

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Meet Miguel – ACV Varadero Rep

July 25, 2016 | By |

From travel tips to local recommendations, get the skinny from someone who knows Varadero best.

Miguel - Varadero rep

1. Name
Miguel

2. How long have you been an ACV destination rep?
Since December 2015

3. What do you love most about your job?
What I like most is the challenge to overcome any issue related to Customer Relations. The fact that one can learn something new every day from all kinds of different people and no single day, week, or month is the same, makes this job a very motivating one.

 4. How is Varadero different from Holguin, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, and Havana?
Varadero has more infrastructure than the other beach destinations in Cuba (Holguin, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco); we have 3 malls, many markets, a big number of night clubs, restaurants and bars, and a golf club. Havana is the top tourist destination in Cuba and it’s the ideal destination to experience city life, but not the beach. The beaches there are not comparable to the ones in Varadero. As Varadero is located only 140 km from Havana, it’s really the best choice for those who want to experience a little bit of everything: sun, beach, city and a local town’s real life.

 5. What is a surprising fact about Varadero?
Varadero is the closest destination to Havana, the capital city of Cuba; it takes only 2 hours by car or by bus. If one selects any other beach destination (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, or Holguin), the only way to have a round trip to Havana in 1 day would be by plane.

 6. Describe your perfect day in Varadero.
I would spend the day with my family, going first to the dolphin aquarium, followed by a swim in the ocean. Afterwards, we’d eat grilled fish and we’d end the day by taking jet ski rides.

 7. What local dish do you recommend and where is the best place to try it?
The best dish you can try in Varadero is lobster at Varadero 60.

 8. Where is your favorite spot to watch the sunset?
Any beach in Varadero is good for watching the sunset, but at Mansion Xanadu Terrace, it is unbelievable.

 9. Could you please teach us a few local expressions?

  • Una cerveza por favor. One beer please.
  • Cuanto cuesta ir hasta _________? How much is it to go to…?
  • Podria decirme donde se encuentra_________? Could you tell me where I can find…?

10. In your opinion, what is a must-do in Varadero?
Visitors should not miss the chance to enjoy a concert by Buena Vista Social Club. They perform once a week and it’s a unique opportunity to hear traditional Cuban music played by the absolute best.

 11. In your opinion, what is the best beach and why?
In my opinion, the best beach spot stretches from the Barcelo Solymar resort to the Sol Sirenas Coral hotel. The beach dune, here, is the biggest and the cleanest of all the peninsula. No rocks on the beach are seen in this area.

 12. Any tips for first-time travelers to Cuba?
Cuba is the safest destination in the Caribbean, but valuables still should not be taken outside unnecessarily. Don’t leave the hotel without bottled water, sun block and toilet paper. Do not rent scooters that are not covered by insurance and if possible, don’t rent a car if you don’t know the area since we have a shortage of signs and roads are not in the best condition.

05 Jul

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Meet Katerina – ACV Varadero Rep

July 5, 2016 | By |

Get the skinny on Varadero from someone who knows it best – our on-site destination rep, Katerina!

Katia (1) resized

1. Name
Katerina

2. How long have you been an ACV destination rep?
Since December 2014.

3. What does your role involve?
Be available to try and help the customer in whatever they might need. Give information briefings, provide assistance and offer tour info.

4. What do you love most about your job?
Meeting and helping different people every day.

5. Describe Varadero in 3 words.
Relax, safe and fun.

6. What is a surprising fact about Varadero?
16 km of white sand and amazing blue water.

7. What local dish do you recommend and where is the best place to try it?
Grilled lobster at Varadero ’60.

8. Where is your favourite spot to watch the sunset?
At the Varadero Golf Club.

9. What is a must-do?
The Crucero del Sol excursion – it’s a full day trip by catamaran with open bar, seafood for lunch, dolphin encounters, snorkelling, and a visit to the beautiful island Cayo Blanco.

10. Where is the best beach?
Downtown, by the Barcelo Solymar hotel and near the Aguas Azules resort. Those are places where you can find really white sand and large beach areas.

20 Apr

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Cuba with the kids

April 20, 2016 | By |

Cuba with the kids is one of the best choices you’ll ever make: tons of activities, warm, calm waters, and resorts for every style.

Havana

The largest city in the Caribbean welcomes you with rich heritage, glorious colonial architecture and a lively atmosphere of love, music and life. Be sure to wander the streets of Old Havana, a fascinating World Heritage Site.

With the Kids: Lenin Park

Inaugurated by Fidel Castro in 1973, this sprawling park makes for a great day for the family with an amusement park, an aquarium, pools and lots more.

Choose from 20 hotels & resorts

Holguin

Christopher Columbus called this area “the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen.” Explore pristine reefs, spectacular beaches, rolling hills and a provincial capital full of life and history.

With the Kids: Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park

A beautiful natural aquarium lets you swim with dolphins and watch trained sea lions. Be sure to enjoy some great home cooking, the mini-zoo and the lovely nature trails.

Choose from 10 resorts

Varadero

One of the world’s greatest beaches! Glistening white sands stretch on forever, touched by turquoise waters and cool breezes. Here, you’ll find lots of family-friendly resorts and activities for everyone.

With the Kids: Boca de Guamà Crocodile Farm

Cuba’s largest crocodile farm is great fun for everyone, offering a unique experience of these incredible animals in a facility that has saved two species from extinction.

Choose from 33 resorts

Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara)

Ringed by the whitest, softest beaches you’ve ever seen, this pristine island is a vacation paradise. Spend your time relaxing on the beach, dining at your stylish resort or exploring the wonderful natural world.

With the Kids: Swim with Dolphins

At the Dolphinarium Cayo Santa Maria you get to swim, interact and have your picture taken with these graceful animals. Now, that’s a pretty great childhood memory.

Choose from 11 resorts

Cayo Coco / Cayo Guillermo

Tucked away in the brilliant King’s Gardens (Jardines del Rey) archipelago, these two islands offer a getaway full of white-sand beaches, great resorts, watersports, pristine nature and lots of family fun.

With the Kids: Catamaran Tour

For a new perspective, take to the water onboard a smooth-sailing catamaran. Many tours include snorkelling and lunch, so you can make a day of it.

Choose from 12 resorts

20 Apr

By

Sabrina is in the Know

April 20, 2016 | By |

Sabrina Brassard is the Air Canada Vacations Destination Supervisor in Varadero, Cuba. She’s the one that makes sure your vacation is full of all the things you want to see and do. She tells us why she has the best job and why you’ll love Cuba.

What makes this the best job?

This is the best job because it’s different every day; I’m always learning something new. We have an amazing team of destination representatives who love what they do. We all feel great when we help our guests have the best time on vacation.

What do you like most about Varadero? Cuba?

Varadero is an all-in-one kind of place. You can enjoy the beautiful beaches and then go out in downtown Varadero. And you are close to Havana. What’s great about Cuba is that the local people are really welcoming and there’s so much history and culture.

Why will families love this destination?

Almost every hotel has dedicated services for children. Off the resort, there are lots of tours and activities that are fun for kids. And Varadero is very safe.

What’s special for couples, friends or groups?

Lots of our hotels have special packages for honeymooners. For groups, you can book private excursions and activities, and most hotels are open to organizing special group events.

One place we all have to visit?

The Rancho Cangrejo Dolphinarium. It’s in the middle of the Atlantic and you can only get there by boat. All the dolphins were either rescued or born there which makes it extra special.

One thing we all have to try?

A catamaran cruise. You’ll get to go snorkelling, visit a beautiful beach and enjoy a delicious seafood lunch.

20 Apr

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Cuba, the Great

April 20, 2016 | By |

With so many sights, adventures and ways to have fun, it’s no surprise that Cuba is one of Canada’s favourite vacation destinations. From the cobbled streets of Old Havana to the endless shimmering sand, and gorgeous tropical landscapes, a vacation here is everything you could ever ask for.

Air Canada Vacations flies to five of the best areas and offers resorts for every style and budget, including great options for families. So, don’t wait. Pack your bags and head to all the sun and fun of Cuba, the Great.

Enjoy!

26 Nov

By

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!

11 Sep

By

Quiz: What vacation type are you?

September 11, 2015 | By |

When planning a beach holiday, there’s one more box to tick off besides destination, hotel and location: vacation type. Don’t know what that is? No worries, we’re here to explain and help you find yours. Take this short quiz and you’ll be one step closer to finding the palm tree- and piña colada-filled vacation that’s right for you.

When on vacation, what does your perfect day look like?

  1. I like to get an early start and go snorkeling as a family, followed by an afternoon of golf while the kids enjoy fun activities.
  2. Quiet and soothing – I want to be pampered from head to toe. First up, a hot steam bath to relax and then a heavenly massage by the sea.
  3. It doesn’t matter what time I wake up because I’ll be ordering room service. I’ll probably head to the pool at some point and order a mojito from my lounge chair. If only I could live like this everyday…
  4. I’ll play tennis in the morning, soak up the sun in the afternoon, and enjoy a private hot tub at sunset.

How do you feel about kids?

  1. Love ‘em, of course! Vacations are all about creating lifelong family memories.
  2. Kids are great, but this trip is really about recharging my batteries.
  3. As long as they’re happy, I’m happy. Bonus if I don’t have to lift a single finger. I won’t say no to some alone time with my honey either.
  4. No, thanks! I want a holiday geared towards 18+.

It’s been 7 nights in paradise, your bags are packed and it’s almost time to leave for the airport. How do you feel?

  1. Wonderful! The week went by quickly because I was having fun with my family and I can’t wait until the next adventure together.
  2. Content, recharged and ready to take on any challenges at home.
  3. Amazing – I slept in because I had a late checkout and managed to squeeze in one last massage while my bags were packed for me.
  4. Sentimental and romantic. The trip celebrated my relationship with my partner and our bond is stronger than ever.

Now that you’ve finished our quiz, tally up your answers to find out which vacation type best reflects your needs:

Answer 1  >>  1 point

Answer 2  >>  2 points

Answer 3  >>  3 points

Answer 4  >>  4 points

So, what is your idea of the perfect vacation?

3-5 points >> Family Vacation

Allegro Papagayo Resort Family Vacation

Allegro Papagayo Resort

The happiness of your family is a priority and a vacation without your kids is unimaginable. To ensure everyone has a great time, be sure to check out our Play hotels (family-friendly resorts where kids stay and eat free) such as the Allegro Papagayo in Liberia, Costa Rica. Surrounded by beaches, rainforests and active volcanoes, this resort is the epicenter of adventure. From kayaking to nature excursions, there’s plenty to keep the kids active and entertained.

If you prefer to head to a Caribbean island, we recommend the Be Live Collection Marien in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. With a supervised kids club, take some time for yourself and head to the spa or play a round at the nearby Playa Dorada golf course.

No matter which hotel you choose, keep in mind that our Play hotels also come with exclusive flight perks: pre-boarding privileges, free seat selection and a $10 meal voucher for every family member. Your family vacation truly starts at the airport.

6-8 points >> Spa Vacation

Melia Resorts Cuba Spa Vacation

Melia Resorts Cuba

Where are the best indulgences found? Only at our collection of Spa hotels, of course.

Our top pick is the Melia Buenavista All-Inclusive Royal Service & Spa in Santa Clara, Cuba. Designed with total privacy in mind, this adults-only resort is an oasis for rejuvenation. Choose from a range of body treatments and massages at its full-service spa and we promise you’ll leave feeling invigorated.

If you want to spoil yourself and you’re travelling with children, we suggest the neighbouring Melia Las Dunas. This popular hotel provides the perfect balance as it’s tailored for families seeking activity and adults looking to relax. The supervised kids clubs arrange activities according to age, which gives you the chance to retreat to Spa Aguas Claras for a Japanese Shiatsu massage. The kids will be so busy, you’ll even have time for that much-needed pedicure.

9-11 points >> Luxury Vacation

IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso Luxury Vacation

IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso

You want the royal treatment and nothing less. That’s what vacations means, after all. For an unforgettable luxurious holiday, you will definitely want to stay at IBEROSTAR Grand Hotel Paraiso. Located directly on the beach in Playa Paraiso, in the heart of Riviera Maya, this adults-only, dream paradise has 5 shiny stars attached to its name – and for good reason. At check-in, enjoy a warm welcome with champagne and a minibar stocked with your favourites. By mid-afternoon, lounge poolside and accept a cold beverage from your butler. For dinner, choose between 2 buffets and 4 à la carte restaurants, or perhaps make use of the 24-hour room service. Come bedtime, select the right pillow for your tired head from the elite pillow menu. Rest now because tomorrow will be busy – there’s a Par 72, 18-hole golf course on site, a casino and spa in the massive Complex Shopping Centre, and numerous sports to try.

For similar vacation ideas, discover our complete list of Luxury hotels.

12 points >> Adults-Only Vacation

Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville Don Pablo Collection Adults Only

Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville Don Pablo Collection

You want serenity, intimate moments and above all, a kid-free holiday. Whether you’re celebrating a honeymoon, anniversary, or traveling just because, Adults-only hotels are right up your alley. The Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville Don Pablo Collection in La Romana, Dominican Republic, for instance, caters to couples and guests aged 18+. With no less than 8 bars on its premises, local area tours (a visit to Catalina Island is a must!) and nightly entertainment, this resort provides the ideal setting to unwind and let loose. For something different, try merengue, bachata and salsa classes. For something more sensual, try the spa’s aromatic relaxation treatment. Deep breath in and exhale, it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Curious about what other vacation types exist? Check out our complete list of vacation types to find your dream holiday.

 

24 Jul

By

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.