Written by Abby Luttrell
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Cuba's top resort is Varadero, which is located east of Havana above the city of Matanzas. Varadero occupies the 12 mile long Peninsula de Hicacos and is connected to the mainland by a picturesque drawbridge. The peninsula is primarily a holiday resort, filled with hotels, discos, cinemas, holiday villages and camping sites.

Varadero is not a built up "strip" as other holiday beach destinations are, such as Cancun. Instead, classic Italianate buildings with ironwork trim are mixed with larger luxury hotels. Lush greenery that includes royal poinciana, coconut palms and sea-grapes borders the world-class beaches.

Part of Varadero, near Punta Hicacos, has become a nature preserve, with many species of birds and plants. Nearby is the Cueva de Ambrosio, with Pre-Columbian rock paintings. The quiet beaches at the end of the Peninsula are also an attraction for scuba divers, who have 23 dive sites to choose from on their Cuba vacation.

Getting Around Varadero

To enjoy the peninsula, visitors to Varadero can hire a bicycle, scooter, or one-horse carriage. One popular destination is the Parque Retiro Josone, an elegant park with lush plantings, three restaurants and a small lake with rowboats. The historic center of Varadero is home to many lovely New Orleans style houses, as well as the classy Hotel Internacional, with its famous casino.

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