Entering through the doors to the lobby of Melia Internacional, a Varadero beach resort, after a two-and-a-half-hour taxi drive from Havana, feels like a breath of fresh air.
The lobby is huge but quiet, the interior cooling and delicate.
I am spending the weekend here as an all-inclusive guest, and after the first impression, I am looking forward to it.
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Where Is Varadero In Cuba?
Varadero, also known as Playa Azul, is covering Cuba’s tiny Hicacos Peninsula in Matanza Province.
It is a super-popular beach resort town just a couple of hours’ drive east of Havana. A lot of international guests come here for a week or three of sand-and-sun vaycay.
The Varadero area is also one of the largest resort areas in the whole of the Caribbean, a whopping 1.7 million foreign tourists visited the resort in 2017.
I had not planned on going here, as I thought “a resort is a resort”. I prefer to feel that I am in Cuba when in Cuba and not anywhere in the world.
But after a stressful couple of months in early 2020, the idea of blue pools and chilling out on sandy beaches seemed very inviting.
Hicacos Peninsula pretty much consists of just beaches, palms, and hotels. Along its 20 km of Atlantic Ocean coastline are a series of all-inclusive hotel and spa complexes.
And there is a golf course if you are into handicaps!
FYI, Varadero Beach was actually rated one of the world’s best beaches in TripAdvisor‘s Traveler’s Choice Awards of 2019, ranking all the way up there at the second place.
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Melia International Resort Varadero
I tried an all-inclusive in Cuba once before, right outside Havana. That was NOT a good experience; it is more like an old Government summer camp for naughty teens.
This time I have set my eyes on the 5-star all-Inclusive Meliá Internacional in Varadero.
The Melia International all-inclusive Varadero hotel claimes to have the “finest stretch of beach in Varadero” according to their own web page.
That is quite a statement, considering TripAdvisor voted Varadero Beach the second-best beach in the world in 2019!
It is possible, though, because the beach outside of the Melia is gorgeously white with super-fine sand for your toes. Although in March, the water is pretty chill and the wind as well.
The Melia itself is huge, and there are several pool areas. Some are small and secluded with a calm atmosphere, while others are large and noisy with activities going on.
From the lobby, you see straight out to the beach (and one of the pool areas) through large wall-covering windows.
During the daytime, you need to enjoy loud music and very happy children in some areas of Melia International.
There IS a shopping area (mostly expensive tourist stuff or summer stuff in case you have forgotten a bikini or something), food and drink places, and spacious indoor and outdoor airy lounges.
For your All-Inclusive stay, the least you need to worry about is food.
You will have access to a variety of different places and cuisines with your bracelet, although some were outside the all-inclusive deal.
You will find a buffet, à la carte, and off-menu restaurants, or just snack bars or sandwich places.
The only thing is that the good restaurants closed at 9 pm, which for me seems a little early. Some of the snack bars in the central and pool areas are open 24/7 so regardless you don’t have to go to sleep hungry.
Or there is always room service!
Pro Tip: Get yourself a water bottle with a filter before your Cuba holiday, and you can drink water from anywhere!
Melia International Varadero Booking
My room at the Melia probably is the best room I have had anywhere in Cuba so far. It was bright and light and airy, with a spacious balcony overlooking the pool area and the eternity horizon out across the sea.
And the bathroom! Gorgeous. There was a huge bathtub, with windows towards the room so that you could see straight through to the sea.
And you can play with the lights to fit your mood for the day (or night).
On the lowest price end, a classic room like this for two people, all-inclusive, starts at $170 per night including free wifi.
Melia International Varadero The Level
If you are looking for the (even more) little extra (which I at the time was not) the Melia has something called The Level and The Level Adults Only floor.
On the high-end side of the Melia offers you find the Level grand suite with a sea view, starting at $453 per night. Here, of course, you do not lack anything.
Varadero On A Budget?
If you think the all-inclusive options are a bit pricey and prefer to spend your holiday budget on other things than your accommodation, there are a lot of great budget options in Varadero.
These are mainly casa particulares in Varadero town, which is not your luxury hotel get-away, but then again you get other perks in a casa, like an authentic Cuban experience!
What Is A Casa Particular?
A casa particular is a privately owned home rented out by a Cuban family, where you can live like a Cuban, closer to the real Cuba!
Budget Option 1 | Casa Carelia
Casa Carelia in Varadero town scores “fabulous” from former guests! The Casa offers an apartment with a dining area, bathroom, TV, and laundry services, and there is Wi-Fi in public areas.
There is also free parking, a garden, 24-hour front desk, spa services, and tour/ticket assistance if you need a bit of help.
The Casa is close to Las 8000 Taquillas Park and the shopping mall, Josone Park, and the Artisan Market, and only a minute’s stroll from the beach.
Budget Option 2 | Casa Elena y Leslie
Also located in Varadero Town is Casa Elena y Leslie, on top of the review list for casa particulares.
Casa Elena Y Leslie has a huge garden and patio, delicate rooms, and bathrooms, and is minutes away from several restaurants, including the famous Beatles Bar!
Of course, you can also walk to Varadero Beach in no time at all.
The casa offers free parking, there is air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, laundry services, a safe for your valuables, and a minibar for bad planning!
Things To Do In Varadero 2022
The Varadero peninsula`s sole reason for being is tourism, and there are plenty of things to do in Varadero outside your resort.
You can go fishing, have an excursion on land or a boat trip to the sea or just hang around on the Varadero beaches.
There are more than 30 dive sites around the peninsula. Parque Marino Cayo Piedras del Norte, where divers can view a sunken military vessel and even a Soviet military AN-24 aircraft.
Various diving, snorkeling, and water sports companies will take you on a day trip.
Ojo de Mégano, a dive site with an underwater cave east of Varadero is popular among scuba enthusiasts, with its rich marine life, including barracuda, red grouper, snapper, and lobster!
Various Varadero hotels offer catamaran cruises with snorkeling and a visit to the dolphin center.
The dolphin center is a dolphinarium, a coral-rimmed lagoon located 400 meters east of Marina Chapelín. Swimming and interacting with the dolphins along with dolphin shows, are available here.
Most hotels will be able to also supply kayaks or small boats for their guests.
Fishing charts are available at Marlin Náutica y Marinas at Marina Chapelin, where there also are sailboards and kiteboards.
Events And Festivals
Every year, there are a lot of events going on and festivals in Varadero Cuba.
A five-day biker event is held every February in Varadero! It comes from the motorcyclists from Harlistas Cubanas, which are Harley-Davidson bikes.
For foodies, the Varadero Gourmet Festival is held every year sometime between April and June.
In June, Varadero hosts the World Music Festival. Artists come to perform from different parts of Latin America. Concerts and open-air shows are taking place in various places in Varadero.
Do you love to play or watch golf? Varadero hosts the Melia Golf Club Cup event, held annually in the third week of October.
It is followed by Los Cactus Varadero Golf Tournament, a two-day tournament held at Hotel Los Cactus at Varadero Golf Club.
8 Other Things You Must Do In Varadero!
Also read: 12+ Best Things To Do In Varadero Cuba 2022
The Neverending Varadero Beaches
Wrap-Up Melia International Resort Varadero
Overall, the Melia International Resort Varadero is a good all-inclusive option for your Varadero holiday that will suit a variety of travelers.
You can choose between different levels of service and luxury, and there are a number of restaurants, cafes, and bars to visit.
Depending on the mood of the day, you can also choose between different pool areas. Some have a festive ambiance, while others have a calm and tranquil atmosphere.
Or leave the resort behind for the day and get out and about and explore a bit of Cuba; it will all be there to take care of you when you get back!
If you are open to other options than the all-inclusive world, check out the budget-friendly (and a bit more authentic Cuban) options as well.
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