Editor's Rating


Don’t know where to book your next Caribbean vacation? Well, Cuba is full of terrific places to visit and fabulous resorts, so here are some tips to help you get the most of your trip in Cuba.

DO make sure you convert enough Cuban Convertible Pesos at the airport as the rate of exchange is much worse at the hotel. The last thing you want to be doing at your resort is exchanging money, so always give yourself more than you need.

DO bring Thermoses so you can put more drinks or cocktails at one time, reducing the amount of times you have to get up from your wonderful chair in the sun. Plus, you don’t have to use those terrible plastic cups they give you.

DON’T  over pack. Keep it simple, it shouldn’t be a problem if you reuse some clothing from earlier days. Carrying large swarms of luggage around is only a bog down for you on your vacation. If you want to enjoy every minute, I suggest packing as light as possible so it’s quick for you to take out what you need and to re pack before you leave the resort.

DO try to take some excursions provided by the hotel. It gives you with a nice inside look of the country itself, not just the tourist part of the country. For example, do try the Catamaran, it is fantastic. What it is for those who have never heard the word before, is a large sail boat, with a gap in the middle that allows you to look into the ocean from both ends. Perfect if you plan on taking some photos while down there as well.

DO go to Havana, the capital of Cuba. It gives you a real snapshot of the country, and was voted as one of the top ten capitals in the world to visit. Beautiful for street photography too. Havana holds both the culture and history of Cuba in a city that inhabits about one-sixth of the population.

Havana Parliment pictured

Havana Parliament pictured

DON’T stay in the sun too long on your first days there, you don’t want to spend the next week in your room because of third degree sun burns.

DON’T plan on having a jam-packed day. Most people head down to Cuba to let down some steam, so don’t expect there to be too many things to help pass the time. Do however make sure your resort does have a welcoming reception, some sport activities, a pool table perhaps, and a gym if you enjoy a small workout while away.

DO give the taxi a go if you can. There is no nicer feeling than riding the 1960 Oldsmobile into the town of Varadero. It is not like any other taxi, the very comfortable ride in while watching it spew out tons of exhaust is something that cannot be replicated anywhere, it feels as though you have gone back in time.

Oldsmobile pulling into El Patriarca

Oldsmobile pulling into El Patriarca


DON’T tip the services in Canadian Dollars because they have nothing they can do with it but ask other Canadians if they can exchange for Cuban Convertible Pesos. So spare them the time if you can.

DO have a good time.

On my recent visit, I was thoroughly impressed by the hotel services, the cleanliness of the room, and the Cuban culture. The Ocean Varadero El Patriarca is only a couple of years old, and as a result the infrastructure was fantastic. The rooms were chic, well designed, and their sparsity over the entire resort added to the aura of relaxation.  However, the only problem with the resort was the food section. They offer three à la carte restaurants but they’re all connected with the main buffet. So there is no sense of speciality, but rather just being seated and letting them bring the food to you. Furthermore, there is no booking system, which means that at 6:30 when they open up the restaurant you should line up outside, and not be guaranteed that you can enter.

Outside of that, the services were terrific, and kindness seemed to run around the place, with them providing you with anything you please. The beach is beautiful, but then again, anywhere you go in Varadero will have the same beach. The single most important factor that separates Ocean Varadero El Patriarca from the others is the quality of the resort. From the room to the drinks to the way you’re treated. Simply first class. Furthermore, they offer plenty of excursions from city tours to safaris, which gives every guest a chance to find something they like. Leaving it at that, I had a phenomenal time spending a week in Cuba, and I would surely put in on my “to-do-again” list.