When we planned our trip to Cuba, we decided to stay at a resort or hotel for the first few days. The idea was to find a small resort/ hotel which is close to the beach and lies between Varadero and Havanna. First of all we wanted to get used to the climate and to the new culture and hoped to find a natural oasis before heading towards lively Havanna.
We decided to stay at the Memories Jibacoa hotel in Jibacoa (map). Jibacoa is perfectly located between Varadero (airport) and Havanna and the Memories Jibacoa resort is the perfect place to relax. The resort consists of small bungalows and is right on the beach. You will get spoiled by the service of the resort, but it never feels like a typical all-inclusive resort. There is no village or city close by, so this location is really only to go diving (a reef is just infront of the hotel´s beach), lie on the beach and to get your first Cuban impressions. Jibacoa is also a popular location for Cubans to spend their weekends or holidays. Many Cubans stay at some kind of camping site right next to the resort. It is worth going along the beach for a walk in order to meet the friendly locals and Cuban tourists. The resort also offers some shorter hiking tours for free. You don´t have to be athletic to go on one of these tours. They usually take about 1-2 hours. But it is definitely worth joining one, because you will get to know the surrounding area of the hotel, meet the local farmers and you will walk along side one of the best fish restaurants of Cuba (Your “guide” will show you the restaurant/ try the lobster!). To us, this was the perfect start to adapt to the Cuban climate and lifestyle.
We can highly recommend Jibacoa for your first few days in Cuba.