When choosing between Varadero and Cayos, there are two important factors to take into account: namely, how much you like parties, and how much time you have. While both locations have absolutely magnificent beaches, Varadero is a party town always full of tourists. If going out and meeting new travellers is your thing and you’re looking for a lively town with busy beaches and a vibrant nightlife scene, then Varadero is the place for you. If you’re looking for somewhere a little more quiet and romantic, away from the crowds and loud music, where there are only hotels and locals, then choose one of the Cayos. If you’re only planning a few days on the beach, however, be aware that the Cayos are quite secluded and getting there from Havana would take about 5-6 hours. We personally recommend Varadero for shorter stays, and the Cayos if you have a minimum of 10 nights in Cuba – but of course, the choice is entirely yours.
There are many Cayos to choose from.
Cayo Santa María is a small island (16km by 2km) just off the north coast of Cuba. It is renowned for its beautiful beaches and water sports, as well as the Wildlife Refuge in the Northeast of the island which is home to the rare national bird of Cuba, the trogon, a species endemic to the area.
Off the north coast of Cuba also lie the two sister resort islands of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, some one the finest and most popular resort destinations in the country, which connect to the mainland by a long, narrow causeway. Although there are other less-developed beach resorts which stretch east along the coast to form the string of islands known as the Jardines del Rey (King’s Gardens), it’s these two that we would recommend.
Cayo Coco, for example, is Cuba’s forth largest island, and is dedicated to those of us who want nothing more than rest and relaxation while on a beach holiday. The islands are famous for their white, sandy beaches, coral reefs and natural features like lagoons and marshes. They are also home to the white Ibis and a native colony of pink flamingoes.