Cuba

Hip Havana

Cuba. The Caribbean island is synonymous with Che Guevara, vintage rum, and cigars as chunky as grandpa’s fingers. Arrive here and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a trip back in time. Baby-blue Buicks from the Fifties are the motor of choice, while the architecture in the famous capital, Havana, is a mishmash of Art Deco and colonial styles.

Picture-perfect Varadero

Make tracks for the coast, though, and it’s a different story altogether. Beach-wise, Cuba rolls out all the Caribbean stereotypes. White sand, warm seas, waxy palms – the whole shebang. Take Varadero – a two-hour drive east of Havana. Cuba’s most famous beach resort stretches its way along the Hicacos Peninsula, a ribbon of sand – 1.2 kilometres wide by 20 long – that juts out from the island’s north coast. It basically means that, wherever you stay, you’ve got one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean as your backyard.

Laid-back Guardalavaca

At the other end of the island is Guardalavaca. If you’re after a taste of the ‘real’ Cuba, this is the one to beat. Granted, the name’s a bit of a mouthful, but the translation – ‘guard the cow’ – is a nod to the area’s rural past. Turn the clocks back 40-odd years, and the place was a sleepy farming hub. And although the luxury hotels that now line its pristine coast are anything but rustic, the place never lost its go-slow vibe.

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