Welcome to Varadero, also known as Playa Azul (Blue Beach), a breathtaking resort town located in the province of Matanzas, Cuba. Varadero is home to one of the world’s best beaches, according to TripAdvisor’s Travelers Choice Awards since 2019, ranking at number two. The town offers a wide range of activities, including fishing and excursions to Matanzas, Cárdenas, and the Península de Zapata. The town is situated on the Hicacos Peninsula, between the Bay of Cárdenas and the Straits of Florida, some 140 km east of Havana, at the eastern end of the Via Blanca highway. The peninsula is only 1.2 km wide at its widest point and is separated from the island of Cuba by the Kawama Channel and the Laguna Paso Malo. Varadero’s town has three longitudinal avenues, intersected by 69 cross streets. The town has a nature reserve at the northeastern end of the peninsula, which includes virgin forests and beaches. The Hicacos Point Natural Park is a 3.12 km2 (1.20 sq mi) ecological preserve established in 1974. The park contains the 250 m (820 ft)-long Cave of Ambrosio, Mangón Lake (home to 31 species of birds and 24 species of reptiles), and the ruins of the La Calavera (The Skull) Salt Works (one of the first salt works to be constructed by the Spanish in the New World). The cays developed offshore, such as Cayo Piedras and Cayo Cruz del Padre, are the westernmost part of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago. Varadero is a free port and possesses facilities for scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, yachting, and other water sports. Varadero receives more than 1 million tourists annually and is primarily visited by European and Canadian tourists. Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport, located 16 kilometers west of Varadero, is the town’s airport and the second-most important airport on the island. Varadero is known for its tropical climate, surrounded by enormous bodies of water that can cool air flowing from North America. The yearly mean temperature is 25˚ Celsius (77 ˚F), humidity is 81%, and the average yearly rainfall is roughly 1,400 millimeters (55 inches). Varadero was first mentioned in 1555 and was used as a dry dock (Spanish: varadero), and the salt mines of the peninsula (closed in 1961) supplied most of the Spanish Latin America Fleet since 1587. Varadero had its foundation date as a city on December 5, 1887, when ten families from the city of Cárdenas obtained permission to build their vacation homes between today’s 42nd and 48th Streets. Varadero village came about in the 1880s as a summer resort. The first homes with red roofs made of wood can still be seen along Avenida 1ra. Varadero was established as a municipality (Spanish: municipio) at the administrative re-distribution of July 3, 1976, from territories previously part of Cárdenas. Varadero is primarily known as a tourist resort town, with more than 20 km of white sandy beaches. The first tourists visited Varadero as early as the 1870s, and for years it was considered an elite resort. Tourism grew in the early 1930s as Irénée du Pont, an American millionaire, built his estate on the peninsula (now Maison Xanadu or DuPont House). People who have stayed in the area include Al Capone. The 1990s brought the start of another hotel building campaign, mostly in the 4-star and 5-star segment. Many of the hotels are operated or co-owned by foreign businesses like Meliá, Barceló, TRYP, etc. Varadero has lost much of its social and cultural life and its traditions due to the all-inclusive hotel-centered tourism. Varadero’s attractions include the amusement park Centro Todo En Uno, Puente Bacunayagua, and an electric-powered Hershey train. Scuba diving is another attraction in Varadero, with more than 30 dive sites. From June to November, hurricanes

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