CubaDESTINATIONSNorth AmericaUncategorized

Varadero, Cuba

The following is a review of my experience with S-Trip’s Varadero, Cuba Graduation Trip.  Even though this trip was over 5 years ago now, I remember it like it was yesterday.

My "Welcome Gift" from one of the staff..he climbed to the top of a tree and cut this down!
My “Welcome Gift” from one of the staff..he climbed to the top of a tree and cut this down!

Where I Went: Varadero, Cuba, on a Grad Trip with S-Trip

When I Went: June of 2009

Where we stayed: Sol Sirenas Coral, Varadero

Who I Traveled With: A group of 50+ 17 year olds on a high school graduation trip

Part of Our Group on a Party Bus
Part of Our Group on a Party Bus

What was the Travel Process like?

We were traveling from Kelowna, BC, so we had to overnight in Toronto on our way to Cuba.  This was all set up by S-Trip and included in the price of the trip.  Everything went very smoothly, all transportation was taken care of – including flights and transport to the resort from the airport.

Waiting to get on the bus to the resort
Waiting to get on the bus to the resort

What did you do during the trip?

We spent our days relaxing on the beach or in the pool at the swim-up bar.  There were a few days that we participated in excursions (see below).  At night, we either went to the nightlife activities included in the trip, such as the Pirate Cave night club, which was epic, or, if there weren’t any planned outings, we just partied at the disco at the resort.  One night we even took the party down to the beach with some drinks and Cohiba cigars and had an awesome time.

One of the pools
One of the pools

Did you feel safe?

I felt safe almost all the time.  This may have been partly due to my naiveté as a 17 year old Canadian girl, but there really wasn’t a whole lot to worry about.  The only place I felt slightly uneasy was in Havana because of all the chaos of the city and the armed guards on every corner.  Stick close to your group, use the buddy system and know your surroundings and you will be fine.

Havana
Havana

Did you have lots of freedom?

Yes.  The S-Trip staff didn’t really mind what we did, as long as they knew where we were and that we were safe.  They’re mainly there to ensure your safety but they’re also a lot of fun.

Maybe they gave us a little too much freedom…?  Just kidding.
Maybe they gave us a little too much freedom…? Just kidding.

Were you well taken care of?

Yes. Without being overbearing, the S-Trip staff were awesome at taking care of us while we partied, making sure that we made it home safe, and ensuring that we were having a great time.  A few of our group members (including myself) got quite sick, and they were well prepared and equipped to make sure that we were taken care of.

The Tight and Bright Party at The Pirate Cave
The Tight and Bright Party at The Pirate Cave

Was the resort nice?

The resort was an average all-inclusive resort.  The rooms had everything you needed but weren’t over-the-top, the grounds were well maintained and beautiful, and the pools were clean and common areas comfortable.  The best part about this resort is the beach.  It had the most incredible white sand and was lots of fun to party on at night.

Resort Lobby
Resort Lobby

Which excursions do you recommend?

We loved the Havana tour (included in the price of the trip) – which took us to many famous landmarks, markets, and the Cohiba Cigar Factory.  We also did the catamaran trip to Cayo Blanco, which is no longer offered through S-Trip (at least I couldn’t find it on the website), but if you have the opportunity to go, do it.  It’s so beautiful.  Just be wary of laying on the front of the catamaran while sailing – the combination of the motion, the heat, and the hangover created a few unhappy campers on our trip.

Cayo Blanco
Cayo Blanco

What do you wish you had known?

Cuba is not famous for its’ food.  We didn’t have any fantastic meals in Cuba, even outside of the resort.  Go for the experience, not the food.  Also, we went at the end of June, which means that there is an almost-daily dumping of rain in the afternoon.  It could be a perfect, crystal-clear and cloudless day, and then, within a matter of 5 minutes, these ominous black clouds would roll in and absolutely pour rain for about a solid hour, and then they clear out just as fast as they came in.  It was crazy.

Ominous Storm Clouds
Ominous Storm Clouds

Any other tips?

If you haven’t witnessed any first-hand displays of poverty before, be prepared to see some pretty heartbreaking stuff in Cuba.  For the most part, the resort is free of this, but as you venture into Havana, you will see just how poor some of these people truly are.  Bringing a few small gifts for the children in Havana is a good idea.  However – be prepared to be ambushed by groups of screaming children if you do have any treats!

The Beautiful Beaches
The Beautiful Beaches

I would recommend S-Trip to anyone looking for a fun trip and a great party.  If you have any further questions at all, feel free to give me a shout at admin@adventuretoanywhere.com.

Happy Adventuring!

Ashley Dempster is a twenty-something Canadian Travel and Adventure blogger based in Calgary, Canada. Her passions include good food, minimalist packing, running, music, and chasing down every opportunity for adventure.

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