Information & Facts
There are over 30 dive sites around the holiday destination of
Varadero and dive centres offering dive courses. Deep sea fishing,
windsurfing, parasailing, kayaking and sailing are all offered.
Land-based activities include golf, skydiving and bowling.
The official language is Spanish, but English is spoken
in the main tourist spots.
The official currency is the Cuban Peso (CUP), divided into 100
centavos, but the 'tourist' currency is the Peso Convertible (CUC),
which replaces the US Dollar as currency in tourist related
establishments like hotels, restaurants and so called 'dollar
shops'. US Dollars are no longer accepted as payment, and a 10%
commission or more is charged to exchange them, therefore the best
currency to bring along is Euros, the British Pound or Canadian
Dollars. The CUC is almost equal in value to the US Dollar. Some
places only accept Cuban pesos and others only Pesos Convertible
(usually tourist related establishments). Money should only be
changed at official exchange bureaux or banks to avoid scams
confusing the two currencies. Visa and MasterCard are generally
accepted only in major cities and hotels as long as they haven't
been issued by a US bank; Diners Club has limited acceptance, and
American Express is not accepted anywhere on the island. Travellers
cheques are less readily accepted than credit cards, but all major
currencies are acceptable, except for US bank issued cheques. No
US-issued credit or debit cards will work in ATMs, but those
holding other cards issued in other countries should be able to get
pesos at most major tourist destinations. Euro or Sterling
travellers cheques are accepted at Cuban banks and Bureaux de
This is not the real Cuba, but an attempt to gain hard currency
by selling the very beautiful white sand beaches in a controlled
tourist environment. The resort is largely exclusive and Cubans are
generally not allowed to stay in the hotels. Many visitors do not
stray far from their package tour hotels, and miss out on many
opportunities to explore the town.
There are many bars in Varadero offering live music, cabaret
shows are popular, and dance clubs and discos in the town cater to
Cubans and holidaymakers alike. The hotels have nightly
entertainment, with lots of Cuban music, dancing and cocktails on
Most tourists take advantage of the all-inclusive tourist
packages offered by the hotel complexes where food is served
buffet-style, and many of these hotels offer their buffets to
non-guests as well. Outside of the resorts there are various
options. Private restaurants (paladares) in people's houses are not
allowed in Valadero and all restaurants are government-owned. In
Varadero town there is everything from market food stalls and fast
food outlets to sit-down restaurants.
Varadero's largest shopping complex is Plaza America where fancy
boutiques and all manner of shops cater to American-style
consumerism - holidaymakers looking for a spending spree will not
be disappointed. There are a number of artisan markets that sell a
wide variety of souvenirs along Avenue 1. For cigars the Casa del
Habano sells excellent quality cigars.
Local time is GMT -5 (GMT-4 from the second Sunday in March
to the last Sunday in October).