There are many different excursions available in Varadero. Since this was my third trip to Cuba, I had already done a few before. This trip, we had a limited budget we decided to only do one. We chose to do the Jeep Tour Excursion because it included the most activities for one of the lowest prices. To read about the other excursions available like swimming with dolphins, catamaran or the Havana Day Trip click here.
On the Jeep Tour Excursion you get to drive your own jeep (only if you can drive standard) but if you can’t you will be assigned a driver. You also get to:
- Drive your own speedboat
- Snorkel at Coral Beach
- Eat a typical Cuban lunch
- Horseback riding
- Cave swimming
The cost: $73 CUC or $93 CAD.
My sister Dru and her husband Damian joined us for the last few days of our trip and they came with us on this Jeep Tour Excursion. We were picked up at our hotel with the jeep we would be driving for the excursion. We then drove to a meeting place where we met up with other people from different resorts who were also doing the excursion. We followed the jeep ahead of us and started by driving through some off road paths to get to the speedboat location. It was pretty fun, bumpy and exciting.
Once we got to the speedboat area, we got assigned a boat and the tour guides taught us how to use the boat. They were really simple to use and Andrew was the first driver. We went out on the river, did some sharp turns, and mid way through I got to drive! The boat didn’t go as fast as I wanted to but it was fun and thrilling to drive.
Once we pulled back up at the dock, we watched a native Cuban ritual dance done by Cuban actors dressed in native costumes. After their performance they asked if anyone wanted to pose for a photo with them and we did because we knew this was their livelihood and wanted to help out.
After that we jumped back into our jeep and made our way through the back roads to our snorkelling destination, Coral Beach. Snorkelling at here was a different experience from other snorkelling trips I’ve done previously because instead of jumping off a boat into the open water area, here you had to swim from the shore to about 150m out. While swimming you go across beautiful coral, see tons of different fish and feel a rush while you’re swimming. It was truly an amazing experience. A little scary but definitely worth it.
After snorkelling we were definitely hungry and thank God it was time for us to go to the ranch and eat. We pulled up to the ranch and got served typical Cuban food buffet style. There was a lot of pork, potatoes, what I think was a butternut squash stew, crackers, rice and peas, some cucumbers and green peppers, black beans and fruit. I didn’t like the meat too much but the rice and peas was good and there were some veggies and fruit so it was fine. Andrew is not a picky eater at all and actually went back for more.
After eating we explored the ranch a bit and met Tony, the guy with the pet crocodile. We posed with the croc, took pics and then we were approached by an old man to explore the house on the ranch. He didn’t speak much english but he was really happy to show us his home, photos of him and his wife when they were 18 (he looked about 70 now), photos of his children and grandchildren. It was amazing to see how he and his wife aged and were still together to this day. He showed us the rooms, kitchen and even some cast iron shackles which we think he was telling us were used for slaves back in the day. We couldn’t really understand him but it was really weird to see those shackles. After the tour, we gave him a tip and went horseback riding.
The horses were average size, but I have only ridden a horse 2 other times in my life and we weren’t given any instructions on how to ride them. Mine started to gallop (it felt really fast but was actually quite slow lol) but I started to freak out. They got him to stop and then they taught us to pull the reigns up when we wanted the horse to stop. I tried it and it worked. So much relief. I don’t have too many pics while riding because I was hanging on for my life.
Next, we were on our way to the cave. When we got to the cave, the walk down was beautiful, exciting and a little scary. The water in the cave was freshwater and was SO cold but once your body adjusted it was okay. Dru and I swam in the water but it was too cold for the boys. The cave had a shallow side and a deep side which was as deep as 22m. In the cave there was a local man climbing the walls and diving from 15 ft or higher. Seeing him climb the walls so effortlessly was amazing but then to see him dive was even more incredible. There were some rocks near the deep side of the cave that people were diving from and jumping from. Dru and I decided to jump. At first I didn’t want to. I don’t know why but as you get older everything just seems way more scary and unnecessary. But then I saw two young boys jumping off and said to myself, Just do it! So we did it! I jumped first and Dru followed after. It was so much fun! I thought to myself, “So that’s why kids do this stuff all the time.” It brought me back to my never-scared-of-anything time of my life.
After swimming in the cave it was a wrap. We got back to the hotel later than anticipated so we raced to our rooms, showered and got ready for our fun sunset photoshoot.
Backstory: Prior to coming on the trip Dru and I talked about doing a photoshoot on the beach because she always wanted a beach wedding. They joined us four days into our vacation and we procrastinated so that night was our last chance to do it. Click here to see photos from the shoot.