Caribbean - Cuba Discussion Forum

Discussions regarding holidays in Cuba
We went end of May/beginning of June this year.

Mark :)
thanks mark,
i do really like the look of this place, it may be slightly more than i want to pay to be honest, but we will see.
is there a time of the year to book when they offer deals.
im also wondering if it will be a little up market for us, whilst where not a lager louts we are also not exactly refined either.
I have not been to Turkey (as alot of people have said so far) but I have been to Cuba a couple of times, the Iberostar Varadero and the Playa Pesquero, Hoguin.
I would say the Iberostar Varadero was very nice, we had a wedding to go to and it was just a fantastic all round holiday, just a couple of things though, we found that after 11pm we had to go to the disco to be able to get more alcohol (alkies lol) and also we struggled to get food at this time also. It may have changed since we were there, please correct me if it has, but these are just a couple of minor things we found late at night.
The Playa pesquero has a 24 hr lobby bar and beach bar (we call it the Diesel Bar) and food on hand 24/7. We found that the staff overall were not as good as the Iberostar, but when we are paying around £600 less for the holiday(per person) we can live with it, everything else we found to be spot on. We think the Playa Pesquero was very good value with a massive pool area and so much to do for the 2 weeks we were there, so much so that we are going again this year at the beginning of October.
Any questions just ask and I will help if I can.

We're far from posh too and felt very comfortable at the Iberostar Varadero. It is a 5* resort but please don't compare it with a 5* western european hotel (like the Savoy or such like).

We never experienced a problem getting any drinks upto midnight. Not too sure after that as we were in bed by then. Certain bars do close at certain times and I think that alcohol is stopped being served at 2AM. Not too sure if it is still served in the Spanish restaurant which is open until the morning after 2AM as we never tried it.

Mark :)
thanks mark and andy.
all the posts here have been really helpful to me.
thanks all.
What an interesting thread . . . .We are considering a first trip to Cuba next month having got an incredible deal which is only £300 more than a 3* b&B to Turkey.

I dont mean to hijack the thread, but was just wondering . . my concern is going in the hurricane season and whether its worth the risk . . .?

when we were in the travel agents today comparing prices he seemed shocked that anyone would even consider going to Cuba at this time of year . . .I remember before we went out to Florida last July/August that the weather forecasting was for thunder and rain etc and while we did get odd afternoon showers (a couple which were incredibly heavy in our 3rd week) it wasn't as bad as that.

My question is, is there anyone here who has travelled out to Cuba at this time of year, if so, what has your experiences been with the weather/hurricanes/tropical storms. Would you risk it?

Even though we've got a great price and deal, I dont want to spend that money if we'd end up spending it hidden from the weather. But recent reviews and reports Ive been reading have been saying how good the weather is . . .so would you risk it?

Any thoughts would be appreciated . . .
Look here give you some idea.

I would risk it last hurricane to hit Cuba was September 2008 that was Ike.
thanks mdollar,
nice to get a view from someone who has been to both turkey and cuba recently.
and agree with the cost it seems about the same.
on top of your holidays cost what do you people actually spend in cash, we normally have all bases covered and only buy food and drink and a few fake presents with the occasional boat trip, with an overall spend of about £2300.

We took £1000 and out of that we swam with the dolphins and had a fishing trip and still come back with £200.
My question is, is there anyone here who has travelled out to Cuba at this time of year, if so, what has your experiences been with the weather/hurricanes/tropical storms. Would you risk it?

I've travelled to Cuba 4 times in the July/August period and, yes, it gets very humid at this time of year and you can see some spectacular thunderstorms but on the whole they happen in the late afternoon/early evening, clear the air and are over within an hour max. I've never let it bother me and the Cubans cope better with hurricanes and tropical storms better than almost anywhere in the Caribbean and certainly better thean the US did when Katrina hit. They have tried and tested evacuation plans in place and your TO will be expected to bus you to another resort if yours is in the path of a hurricane. So, yes, there is the chance that you might end up in a different resort to the one you booked and you do need to be willing to roll with it but you will be safe.

Cuba is a long thin island running roughly west to east and the hurricanes tend to track through north to south so the bulk of the island will at most experience some unsettled weather when a hurricanes makes landfall but not much more.

We have been huge Turkey Fans for several years now and as a family with 3 teenagers have made our way around various A/i's there over recent years . On checking prices for a few new short listed Turkey hotels I found we could go to Cuba considerably cheaper and chose the sol rio Luna &Mares .

We have just returned and have to say we loved it . It was quite different in the sense that there is no advertising or capitalism there which is obviously the complete opposite to Turkey and being somebody that doesnt particularly do peace and quiet very well it did take me a few days to get used to not having English music and a club dance around the pool. There is plenty to do there but you have to search it out for yourself . Nobody will come and pester you or launch into a big sales pitch . We used to enjoy that aspect of Turkey but over the last couple of years it has come to annoy us more .the cubans are genuinely warm and friendly people and seem to enjoy & appreciate having us there . Probably how turkey used to be but I think they have got used to us now and are becoming greedy and experts in telling us what we want to hear .

For the first time in years we spent almost our entire holiday on the beach .Once you see it you will understand why . The quality of A/I was excellent and the drinks , well I have never seen so much rum being poured freely and so much go into a blender . It knocks spots off of turkey in that respect (And Turkey is good) and the food was varied and excellent .

Go for it .It makes a change and we are considering going back next year. I have put my review on this morning and I have put lot's of pictures in the media gallery . Click on media> nth america > caribbean > and check out the cuba pictures .


ps. sorry forgot to say there were plenty of families there and a high percentage of English. The only money we spent was on Diving and tips. + duty free at the airport. Didnt do any trips, way too lazy for that :)
Karen . We travelled out on 20th July and the weather was brilliant . It is very humid and I can't speak for other resorts but you get a very strong breeze on the beach at Guardalavaca which makes it very bearable .
In our first week we had a couple of short downpours of an evening /early morning and one early morning on the 2nd week . none at all during the day . clouds come and go and weather patterns are fast moving but to be honest the clouds are just as welcome and you get a good mixture of both all day.

I should imagine the downpours will increase as you get later into august but talking to the lady that works the pool bar at Mares she said aug was the hottest month and hurricanes if any come later . Sept /oct
hi lyn,
sounds like you really enjoyed yourselves.
we have exactly it seems the feelings you have towards turkey, it has changed so much we have become tired of it.
i love the sound of what you and others have experienced in cuba and i think thats going to be our destination, ive just got to get the wife on a long haul flight, but where getting there.
I have to say having never travelled that far Before we were dreading it but none of us found it was half as bad as we had feared . Much more leg room, Seat back screens , lot's of drink and food rounds to relieve the boredom and we were there before we knew it (9 hours). My husband is a smoker (30 a day) and usually he is a complete wound up :swear on any journey (even to France) so I was well prepared with patches & the usual gum and put our usual son inbetween us but I have to say he was as good as gold and even remained cheerful so that say's it all really.
we have been going to Goa for years,we absolutely love the place,the people and the food...but..time for a change. So any help and advice would be most welcome! We like the idea of going to Cuba (Guardalavaca looks ok and also a good price),but is January a good time to go? Are there many trips/tours etc.? if we decide to eat outside of the hotel are the prices reasonable(rough idea perhaps)? does anyone know anything about either Playa Costa Verde hotel or Brisa Guardalavaca? We are 2 couples,late 50,s but young at heart...even if one of us does have a pacemaker!!!! Oh..thats a thought! Is it hilly or rough? Hope someone in HT land can give us some tips or advice. Thanks in anticipation.
Hi Milliemeg, I can't comment on either of the hotels you mention, or even Guardalavaca as a resort, but January is a brilliant time to go with regards to the weather. It will be hot and sunny but without the humidity that can make July and August such a pain.

Guardalavaca is very much a tourist development and so not necessarily a great deal to do in the immediate vicinity outside of your hotel but the beaches are great on that part of the coast. Holguin is probably the nearest town with much opportunity to bet to see something of the local colour and is worth visiting. You are bound to be offered a trip there but it could well be cheaper to negotiate with a taxi driver to take you there and then pick you up at an agreed time.

But situated as it it in the middle of the island you will probably be offered trips to both Santiago and Havana. The late is my favourite city in Cuba but its around a 2 hr drive. Havana is further but any trip offered by your TO is likely to be based on a 1 hr internal internal flight from Holguin. My advice would be that of you do visit either of them, go for a trip that includes an overnight stay. Cuban cities only really come to life after dark. You will miss out on so much if you are heading back to your hotel just as the the bars and music venues are starting to open up - especially in Santiago where I have seen so many tour groups being herded out of the Cs de la Trova just as the main band was coming on to start their set!
Thanks for that SMa,much appreciated. Do you think that perhaps Varadero would be better for first timers? We like good food,nice beaches,markets ,shops etc. but also like to walk about freely.
Hi Milliemeg, if you are thinking of including a trip to Havana in your holiday then Varadero might be more convenient - from memory it's something like a 90min drive max. And if your package includes flights to Varadero then your transfer time on arrival will be quite quick. The beaches right along the peninsula are really good. The problem again will be that Varadero town itself is really quite small and the hotels are strung out along almost the entire length of the peninsula so if being able to get out and about of an evening or go shopping is important for you then you would need to check carefully where your chosen hotel is situated because again there is not always that much to see and do in the immediate vicinity of some of them. There is, however, a better tourist transport system in place there than in many resorts with a bus service that shuttles up and down the one main road.

Again, I can't offer any specific advice about hotels because the AI beach hotel based holiday is not my sort of thing. I did spend 3 nights in Varadero as a bit of R&R after a long tour once but have to admit I was climbing the walls by the end and the hotel I stayed in is not used by any of the big TOs serving UK tourists anyway.

Reading between the lines of your posts, I think that there are a few points about Cuba that you need to bear in mind when making your decision:

1) Nearly all the big AI tourist hotel developments are at a distance from the local towns and villages. The cayo developments are the most extreme examples in that most of them were completely uninhabited beforehand and all the staff are transported in rather than living locally. If you want to be able to walk outside of your hotel and straight into a bustling 'strip' then you need to select your hotel carefully and the top rated AI hotels generally aren't in those sort of situations. Most will at best be quite a long walk or even taxi ride away.

2) Expect the best food to be found in your hotel because on the whole there will not be much chance to find decent food outside of it. In my experience the best food is to be found in private homes or small private restaurants known as paladares that Cubans are allowed to set up in their own homes. But finding a decent one is difficult without local contacts - they literally come and go and it will nearly always be a set meal.

3) Once you have exhausted the rum and cigar shopping there isn't much else worth buying apart from local handicrafts, the standard of which can often be quite poor because people can only lay their hands on poor quality raw material for them. The best buys tend to be locally made needlework and crochet work along with the wood carving. My nieces now have quite a collection of 'folksy' bracelets and necklaces that accessorise beachwear but not much else! Expect any street market to mainly handicrafts and not much else, you won't find any designer knock-offs, clothing etc but you will find examples of ingenious re-cycling. If they hadn't been so heavy to bring back my nieces would have got 'chainmail' clutch bags made from the ringpulls of drinks cans before now!

4) Most visitors don't spend much time outside of their hotel because there is not always that much in the immediate vicinity to entice them to do it and not because it isn't safe. I have always felt very safe in Cuba - tourism is their main source of hard currency and nobody wants that to be put in jeopardy. Local people are very protective of visitors in my experience and life is lived on the street so unless you keep really late hours I have walked through Santiago and Havana on my own in the early hours and felt perfectly safe but I rarely have to do it because on the sort of holiday I go on there is always someone who will walk me back to my Casa.

Got to go now to meet a friend but will be back!

Hi again SMa, I think sections 3 and 4 of your reply have made me think that Cuba may not be for us. We tried January of this year and were bored after a couple of days,everything was hotel based and that is not our thing.We don't want wild night life,but want a fair choice of where to go for a drink or meal(even if we go AI we still like to try other places). Goa seems to be calling again!! It would be our 14th time but we always seem to find new places tosee and things to do. I won't rule Cuba out just yet and I will carry on trying to find out more.Thanks again for your help....If you think of anything else,please let me know.
milliemeg wrote:
Goa seems to be calling again!!

After 8 trips to Goa I’ve now given up on it. I refuse to cough up the disgraceful hundred quid for a visa, I don’t like the packs of dogs roaming everywhere, I don’t like the way that the local tourists urinate in public streets or on the beach, and I really dislike the ever growing rubbish tip mountain with all the rats running around, behind the shacks at Calangute.
So winter 2012/13 I did two trips – one to Thailand (Karon), the other to Sri Lanka - they were really wonderful.
Thai food is super with a huge variety of places to eat, the hotels are high standard and clean – and the locals have both good manners and clean habits.
Sri Lanka I’ve been to many times, and I always like the variety of things to do, the food, the friendly locals, and the amazing historical sights.
Winter 2013/14 I’m booked again for Thailand (NO VISA needed) and Sri Lanka (Visa obtained on line costs about 20 quid).
I did love my many trips to India, I’ve been way inland to Karnataka to see the tiger reserve, Iv’e visited the “lost city” of Hampi, and I’ve been down to Cochin, and even to Kerala for a couple of weeks. But I don’t think the Indian government wants Brit tourists any more, and they simply do not understand cleanliness, hygiene and the 21st century holiday business.
One thing to bear in mind when picking a new destination from Goa is to watch out for the “sunshine hours” statistic. In the Caribbean you will see a lot less daylight and sunshine hours than you are used to in Goa. Thailand and Sri Lanka are more comparable.
  • Edited by ukbill 2013-08-21 11:50:16

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