Direct flights are operated from the UK to Cuba. There are two destinations, Habana the capital in the west, and Holguin in the east. On our first trip in February 2014 we flew to Habana and travelled around the west of the island for nearly three weeks ending up for four days at an all-inclusive resort at Jibacoa on the north coast about an hours’ drive east of the airport. This was our first taste of ever staying at an ‘all-inclusive’. These are hotels where all your food and drinks, including alcohol, and use of the facilities and any entertainments, are included in the price. Only tips and trips out are not included.
This sort of resort may not be to everyone’s taste, especially those like us who go abroad mainly for the wildlife, but they do have their advantages – not least that they are relatively cheap! After our return to UK we quickly decided that we would have to return before too long and visit the east of the island. Lynn found that Thomas Cook did all-inclusive holidays to various resorts near Holguin and on further investigation we decided on the Sol Rio de Luna y Mares hotel at Playa Esmeralda just west of Guardalavaca – and what a good choice this turned out to be – a very friendly comfortable hotel with good food. We had two weeks for under £900 each (December 2014). That is cheaper than a holiday in Europe, and much cheaper than in the UK. The cost included flights, transfers, all food and drink, evening entertainment and use of the gym, sauna, tennis courts, swimming pools etc. Flights are approximately 9 hours to fly out and 8½ hours coming back due to the prevailing winds.
There are several resorts in the area to choose from of varying standards. The adjacent hotel is the Paradisus which has different grades of high standard accommodation which start at about 50% more than staying at the Luna y Mares. It does have the advantage that the gardens there are more extensive and have many more trees and mature vegetation and so I suspect would be very much better for birds and butterflies but we decided to go for the cheaper option and explore the surrounding countryside, and spend the money saved on taking a trip into the forested hills of the Parque Nacional de Mensura to the east, more of this in a later blog.
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Here we will post interesting news about what we and others have seen in Cuba.