It all started with a bus ride to a parking lot in Varadero, vacant except for a fleet of Jeeps. Well, to be honest, they weren’t Jeeps— they were Chinese knock-offs called BAIC Beijing Jeep 40 SUVs. We were lucky to be a group of 5, because groups of three or smaller got stuck with small SUVs that resembled a hatchback car more than they did a Jeep.
We all hopped aboard the rigs and hit the road. There was no communication with our guide, which was slightly nerve-wracking; but he kept a close eye on who was falling behind (I think).
Our first stop was Cueva de Saturno, a cenote (natural freshwater cave) near Varadero. It is located on the road that leads to J.G. Gomez International Airport. There is a quaint little cafe/bar on site at the cenote that serves great Pina Coladas and is the perfect place to chill out and snap some pictures.
To get down to the cave, you walk through the cafe and down a winding set of stairs. The walk over the stairway is breathtaking! The natural pool inside the cenote is very deep (75 meters!!) so be sure you are wearing a PFD if you are not a confident swimmer. Take my advice and jump right in because the water is pretty cold at first, but once you are in it is absolutely gorgeous. I could have swam there all day— I didn’t want to leave!
After leaving Cueva de Saturno at promptly 11 am, we were off to La Arboleda Nature Park for lunch. I feel like there is a solid tie between the cenote and this park for my favourite part of the day, because this place was gorgeous and so laid back. An ‘authentic’ Cuban buffet was served outdoors for lunch and the food was tasty, but for some reason I was doubting its authenticity— it seemed like a mix and match of random cuisines. That said, I was the first to go back for seconds!
I am thankful we had the chance to spend a couple hours in the nature park. The scenery was breathtaking, there were hammocks tied to almost every tree for us to relax in, and there were farm animals wandering around everywhere. The park staff were also very friendly. I would definitely recommend spending an afternoon here.
Once we left the nature park, our guides led us out to an old quarry that they call the ‘Grand Canyon of Cuba’. I don’t know the exact location of it, but I know it was near the airport. Even though the quarry is not a natural phenomenon, it was still pretty cool to see! My picture does not do it justice, the rock formations are actually quite massive.
Our last stop of the day was Parque Rio Canimar, an establishment on the Canimar River almost directly underneath the bridge. Here we were given the opportunity to drive our own boats up the river, which was so much fun! The Canimar River reminded me a lot of the Chavón River in the Dominican Republic (read about it here).
There are two small bars in this park, one in the parking lot which serves incredible all-natural Piña Coladas. They are served in a pineapple and are a must if you find yourself in the area! The other bar is known for its mojitos and is a good place to grab a cheap bottle of water. Some locals perform a cultural show near the dock multiple times a day— don’t miss it!
We had a fantastic day. I am not sponsored in any way, and I can absolutely say that Cuba Video Diary!
If you are an adventurous person and are planning a vacation to Cuba I would recommend this excursion without hesitation. The tour was booked through WestJet Vacations under the company Cubanacan. It cost 81 CUC per person, which is approximately $110 CAD, and includes your meal.
Let us know what your all time favourite adventure was in the comments below. We love hearing from our readers!