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Geography

Varadero resort is located on the long and narrow Hicacos Peninsula between the Straits of Florida (Atlantic Ocean) and the Bay of Cardenas, on the northern coast of Cuba. It’s 140 km (93 miles) from Havana and 32 km (21 miles) from Matanzas the largest city in the province of the same name, Matanzas. The peninsula takes its name from a type of spiny cactus (Hicacos).

The Hicacos Peninsula covers 14.4 sq km (5.6 sq mi) and is approximately 21 km (13 mi) long and more or less 1 km (0.6 mi) wide. It’s separated from the mainland by a lift bridge (Puente Bascular) crossing the Kawama channel. The tip of the peninsula, called Punta Hicacos, is the northernmost point of Cuba. The peninsula is surrounded by 10 cayos (islets), several coral reefs, channels and underwater caves.

The southwest end of the peninsula is the town area (a.k.a. downtown Varadero) where you’ll find most of the casas particulares and the cheaper hotels that are on or off the beach. The northeastern part is home to most of the the more luxurious and/or more recent all-inclusive beach resorts. A large portion of the northeast end of the peninsula is a nature preserve called Reserva Ecologica Varahicacos (3.12 sq. km / 1.20 sq. miles) where you can find an endemic forest, hiking trails and caves.

The northern shoreline of the peninsula (Atlantic side) is where you’ll find the spectacular 21-km (13-mi) beach from which Varadero is most famous for. A fine white sand of calcareous origin covers the entire length of the northern shore (beach and seabed). The shallow crystal-clear waters surrounding the peninsula allow bathers to enjoy a safe swim.

See also our Maps section.