Varadero • Cuba
Varadero is a resort town in the province of Matanzas, Cuba, and one of the largest resort areas in the Caribbean. Varadero is also called Playa Azul, which means “blue beach” in Spanish.
Varadero is a relatively exclusive part of Cuba, abundant with private hotels, gorgeous beaches and the country’s only full golf course. The fantastic beaches with clear turquoise warm water makes this an island lovers paradise.
The first mention of Varadero was in 1555. The place was first used as a dry dock (Spanish: varadero) and the salt mines of the peninsula (closed in 1961) supplied most of the Spanish Latin America Fleet since 1587. However, the foundation date of Varadero as city was only on December 5, 1887, when ten families from the city of Cárdenas obtained a permission to build their vacation homes between today’s 42nd and 48th Street.
Varadero is foremost a tourist resort town, boasting more than 20 km of white sandy beaches. The first tourists visited Varadero as early as the 1870s, and for years it was considered an elite resort. In 1910 the annual rowing regatta was started; five years later the first hotel, named Varadero and later Club Nautico, was built. Many famous and infamous people stayed in Varadero, for example Al Capone.
In addition to its most valued resource, the beach, Varadero has natural attractions such as caves and a chain of easily accessed virgin cays. There are also cultural, historical and environmental attractions in the vicinity, such as the cities of Matanzas and C?rdenas, the Zapata Peninsula and the resort of San Miguel de los Baños. Varadero, which is a free port, also possesses facilities for scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, yachting and other water sports.
Varadero is primarily visited by European and Canadian tourists. The number of U.S. tourists visiting Varadero, although increasing, has been limited because of the U.S. government restrictions that make it difficult, but not illegal for U.S. citizens to visit Cuba as tourists.