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Trip Report Cuba-Trip to Cayo Largo Del Sur

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Just got back from a trip to Cayo Largo Del Sur, Cuba. Overall it was a great beach holiday.

We booked our AI trip through Nolitours (for Americans - it is a discount Canadian tour operator). We flew out of Toronto.

Cayo Largo Del Sur is a small coral island off the southern coast of Cuba. It is not far from Isla de Juventud. Cayo Largo is famous for its beaches and frankly they were amazing. It is a tourist destination island. Cubans do not live there permanently but work there under contract several months at a time. The island was badly devastated by a hurricane in 2001. There are 3 "larger" (maybe 250-300 rooms) resorts (Sol Cayo Largo, Sol Pelicano and Playa Blanca and a couple of smaller ones.

Most of the resorts are on Playa Lindamar Beach. They are wellspaced - definitely NO beach crowding. The Playa Blanca resort is on Playa Blanca Beach ( a few kilometers further east ).

We stayed at the Sol Cayo Largo and for the most part were pleased with it.

The Beaches:
Playa Lindamar
Playa Lindamar is long (several kilometers) but not very wide in most places. The week we were there, the surf was quite rough - so we spent a lot of time at the other beaches.
My DH did enjoy the body surfing at Playa Lindamar.

Western beaches:
Playa Paraiso
This is where we spent most of the week. Very calm and breathtakingly beautiful. Miles of wide, soft sanded beach and gorgeous, transparent aquamarine water. However the only shade is where you are dropped off and there are not enough beach loungers. There is just a bar, palapas and some beach loungers and picnic tables.
We walked down the beach about 1 kilometer, found a large log to sit on and had a magnificent stretch of beach all to ourselves.
Note: Playa Paraiso is Clothing Optional
Playa Sirena
Located further west of Playa Paraiso. we stayed at Paraiso but other tourists gave us info re: Sirena. Very wide, all water sports for thevarous resorts are located there. There is a restaurant and bar and changing rooms and washrooms. It souned better suited to families because of more facilities. I am pretty sure that it is not CO.
How we got there:
The resorts supply free transportation - a little "train" thing. The beach road is exceptionally bumpy - so I don't recommend the "train" for anyone with a back problem (Our friend came with us one day and sure enough the train ride put her back out for a day.) The other way to get there is to take a taxi (which you pay about 3 CUCs per person for - one way). The ride takes about 15 minutes.
CUC - Cuban Convertible Peso - used by tourists and they are worth about $1 U.S.
Note: The resorts are All-Inclusive but at Playa Paraiso and Playa Sirena, you pay for drinks and food. However our resort would supply a free boxed lunch to take along if you requested it the night before.

Our Resort - Sol Cayo Largo
As I said - overall we were OK with our experience there. However if we go back to Cayo Largo we might try another resort.
We were pretty pleased with our rooms (we had 3 rooms, one had an air conditioning problem which was fixed by the next day). The rooms are about 1 5 minute walk to the beach. We had ocean view rooms and saw the ocean and incredible sunrises. The beds were hard. Our maids did a very good job. Water pressure was not strong but adequate. Our only complaint was that virtually all towels seem to have stains - they REALLY need to upgrade something in the laundery. Our balcony was a lovely spot for relaxing. We had a hammock and two chairs and a little table. The rooms are located in separate buidlings (about 8 units per building).
Virtually every building came with a friendly feral cat who expects you to scoff some scraps from the buffet for it. Ours was a sweet little pregnant female who actually had her kittens while we were there. The maids found a box with an old towel for her and a pretty good den location under the back steps. She and the kittens were doing well when we left.

As many people have said, one does not go to Cuba for gourmet dining. The food was adequate. My husband loved the pasta station and I liked the fish grilling station at the buffet. We ate breakfast and dinner at the buffet. On our first two nights, service left A LOT to be desired but after that we discovered a well-run (with all female wait staff) section in the buffet and stuck with it - they were great. The only real problem we had with the buffet was the FLIES - tons of them and little adequate fly protection for the food. We survived with no ill effects but it is off-putting and could be easily solved by getting some proper covers for the food. We tried lunch at the Ranchon (beach restaurant) one day and frankly it was an awful experience. The food was OK but the service was the absolute pits - waiters were not clearing tables and totally ignoring requests for cutlery or water. We never went back. Instead we packed ourselves a beach snack from the breakfast buffet or ordered a box lunch. On two days we went to the pool snack bar - a MUCH better experience - the wait staff were busy but actually made an effort.

The Pool:
Pleasantly set up and adequate, lots of loungers but showing its age

The grounds:
I really liked the ground, lots of deserty plantings nicely arranged. And some 'wild' areas to encourage the native flora and fauna. Re: flora and fauna - Lots of arid type native plants on the dunes (and they are well-protected - you are encouraged to use boardwalks to get to the beach). I saw MANY different types of birds - ranging from pelicans to beautiful humingbirds. And we saw the biggest iguana I have ever seen near the beach. The grounds also have a lot of colourful little crabs that come out before breakfast.

Bottom Line:
Would we stay at this hotel again - maybe - if we got it on
sale again. I would NOT pay full-price.
Would we go back to Cayo Largo - absolutely

For Americans:
We are Canadian so getting to Cuba is no problem for us. There were several Americans on the plane who had flown to Toronto. They had had no problem booking with Canadian tour companies. Cuba does not stamp your passports. You are charged a premium to convert U.S. $ in Cuba - so it is better to use your U.S. $ to buy some Canadian $ and then convert the Canadian $ to CUCs in Cuba.

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