Everyone knows Cuba is great for sunny getaways, but there’s more to this amazing island than all-inclusive resorts. Head off the beaten track to explore the nearby towns, and add some history and culture to your beachy vacay.
Bypass Varadero, the most established of Cuba’s resort areas, to save money and visit less touristy sites. The tiny island of Cayo Santa Maria is blessed with lovely beaches and the nearby Bahia de Buenavista ecosystem — declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. It’s connected to the mainland by El Pedraplen — a 48-kilometre causeway — so you’re less than an hour from the colonial town of Remedios. There you can lunch at Casa La Paloma one of Cuba’s charming casas particulares (their version of a B & B) that is also a paladar — a restaurant in a home. Lunch at Casa La Paloma is served in a beautifully restored colonial home adjacent to Remedios’ bustling town square. Tiny travellers are welcomed with open arms by proprietors Rafael and Iraida and their family. Make reservations by calling (+53) 42 39 54 90 or arranging with the local rep of your tour operator.
The revolutionary city of Santa Clara is about 45 kilometres south of Remedios. The solemn Che Guevara memorial may be a tough sell for toddlers, but the train derailment site of the Battle of Santa Clara offers history and old railway cars to explore. Ask your hotel’s front desk or your tour operator’s local rep to arrange a taxi for the day, but be sure to stress you want a car with rear seat belts.
Snapshot moment: Vintage cars in jellybean hues line the streets — a postcard-worthy picture on every corner in most Cuban towns.