Four Days in Varadero
Cuba’s Varadero casts a spell that keeps visitors coming back for more. One glimpse of the warm turquoise sea rolling up against an endless stretch of white beach will tell you why.
Decompress Here, it’s all about relaxing. Book into one of Varadero’s many gorgeous beach resorts—such as the Iberostar Laguna Azul or the Meliá Las Americas—then recalibrate to island time with a spa treatment.
Sail Away Looking for something more active? Charter a sailboat and head for the nearby cays. Or let the warm winds of the Straits of Florida fill your sails on a kiteboard with the Caribbean Riders Kite School.
Snorkel Adventure Head south to one of the best snorkelling and dive spots in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Experienced cave divers can explore the flooded cave system of Cueva de los Peces while snorkellers can float atop the natural saltwater pool with hordes of colourful tropical fish.
Trip to Town Take the double-decker Varadero Beach Tour hop-on, hop-off bus for a trip into town. About $6 gets you an all-day pass, and stops include the local flea market, Josone Park and La Casa de Al, where you can grab a cold drink on the patio.
Three Days in Havana
After your downtime in Varadero, head to Cuba’s capital city. Havana promises a lot: music on every street corner, rum-tasting bars, hand-rolled cigars, fascinating architecture—and it more than delivers.
Arts and Crafts Visit the five plazas of Old Havana, each with its own architectural character, for a glimpse of the city’s roots. Check out the Museo de Artes Decorativas, a mansion filled with exquisite artwork dating back to the 16th century in the Vedado district. For crafty keepsakes, visit Almacenes San José at the harbour.
Go Cruising Catch a ride in a 1950s classic car and drive along the Malecón seawall. Let the time slip by while sipping piña coladas at the once-notorious Hotel Nacional de Cuba, where mobsters mingled in the mid 1900s. Afterward, try a meal at a paladar (a home-based restaurant) like Atelier in the Vedado district.
Culture Fix Take in the feather- and sequin-clad dancers at the longest running Cuban cabaret, the Tropicana. For modern salsa, dance into the wee hours at the Casa de la Música de Miramar.
Getting there: WestJet flies to Varadero three times a week from Toronto.
Three Places to Go if You Really Love Books
In honour of National Novel Writing Month this November, an annual event where participants attempt to write a manuscript in 30 days, consider taking a literary-inspired vacation to Jamaica, England or Cuba to learn about Ian Fleming, Jane Austen or Ernest Hemingway.
The Best of Rum: Tours, Tastings and Tips
From sipping rums and rum-based cocktails to touring distilleries like Mount Gay in Barbados, there are plenty of rum-filled things to do on your next Caribbean vacation. Here, we share everything you need to know about this storied spirit, including its history and tasting tips from rum master blender Joy Spence.
Snapshots of Central Cuba: Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Santa Clara
Explore Central Cuba's historic towns, where time stands still. Drink in a rustic, open-air courtyard bar with locals in Trinidad, dine in a 1900s mansion-turned-restaurant in Cienfuegos and visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara.