Although I was skeptical of my first resort experience, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in Cuba. Like so many fellow travelers had warned me before I left for the trip, it wasn’t my resort in Varadero that I loved, it was the province of Matanzas and the Cuban capital, Havana that captured my heart. You can read my guest post on exploring Matanzas on Enduring Wanderlust.
In the mean time, here are some of my most memorable moments from the trip:
1. Snorkeling at Playa Coral, Varadero
This is a beautiful scuba diving and snorkeling spot in Cuba. The water is incredibly clean and clear and the colorful fish swim right up to the shore. I swam between the corals, loving the feeling of the ocean on my skin and the fish playfully dodging my fingers.
2. Swimming in the Saturno Cave, Varadero
There’s nothing more refreshing than swimming in a natural cave. The snorkeling experience and the Saturno cave came together as part of a jeep safari tour that was recommended to me by a friend. Normally, my travels are been more focused on culture than outdoor adventure but I loved the jeep safari experience.
3. Spending a day on a sugar cane farm
I knew next to nothing about sugar canes before visiting Cuba so getting to stay on a sugar cane farm was a nice treat. Getting to slurp on fresh juice from the sugar canes and see how the juices are made was just icing on the cake.
4. Riding in a 1950’s Chevrolet Bel Air
The trademark memory from tourists who visit Cuba is the old cars roaming on the streets. Luckily, when I hired a taxi to go to Havana, I got to cruise around all day in a 1950’s Chevrolet Bel Air. The taxi, painted purple and white, had wide leather seats and a Mercedes engine. I felt pretty “fly” riding in the vehicle while other tourists snapped photos of the car everywhere we went. The driver and I joked that he should charge $1 peso per picture, like so many other Cuban owners of these old vehicles do.
5. Buying gasoline on the black market
The story with the cab gets even better. After a fulfilling day in Havana, on the drive back to the hotel, the driver pulled over to a gas station and had a nonchalant exchange with the guy at the pump to buy gasoline at a discount. When the quote was too expensive, we drove off to the next gas station where, after a similar exchange, my driver happily filled up the tank. When we turned onto the highway again, the taxi driver smiled at me and murmured in his broken English, “black market.”
Now, that’s Cuba.