Arrival: Jan 26 til Feb 2:
We booked through Sunwing. The flight there took just under 5 hours. You got free champagne and red wine with your meal. There was no hassles getting to your bus, but it took about 45 minutes from the Holguin Airport to where the Blau Costa Verde is. It’s a good opportunity to view the Cuban countryside, and it’s always very humbling when you see the locals homes & their way of life. There’s also beer they sell you as you board the bus, but why pay for beer when you get it for free all week long at your resort 🙂 Oh, and be prepared to tip the bus driver, take some loonies & toonies, I found this out the hard way as I had no choice but to tip $5. Our Sunwing rep was a lady named Miss Verne?? Bad with names, but she was very courteous, professional, and was always very open & honest in any question you would ask her.
Our room was great, we loved how it was painted in different shades of blue. We had an awesome chamber maid, keep tipping her and she’ll go the extra mile. It was always nice & clean, and well kept. Only downside was the beds were a bit hard. It was also nice to have our fridge stocked up with beer & soft drinks & a big bottle of water. The 26 of Cubay rum as a welcoming gift was the best of all!! But that’s exclusively through Sunwing.
Restaurants and Bars:
The main restaurant was awesome. Food was excellent, and every day they would have different themes such as Mexican, or oriental, or Cuban. I also loved the pizzeria as well, it was an excellent alternative if you would rather eat lighter. Never tried the a la cartes, my wife & I aren’t really into that fancy dining stuff. The main bar was great as well, and the night chef made the best burgers at the main bar and they were ready almost in the blink of an eye. The beach restaurant is also a good alternative to lighter meals. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re hanging at the beach and want a quick bite. The beach bar could use some improvement though, it wasn’t terrible, the bartenders were friendly, but it just needs character. The best bartender was the one at the beach bar. At first if there’s only a handful by the beach bar, there’s no bartender, but when they see there’s enough people there, they’ll meet & exceed your expectations. The lounge bar was excellent as well, on most nights a group of us would hang out there, and this older lady in her late 30’s early 40’s (sorry I am bad with names) would wait on you hand & foot.
If you compare this beach to Punta Cana’s beaches, well to be honest, Punta Cana would get the edge. That’s not to say this beach was terrible, but you do need aqua socks as the sands are mixed with crushed coral and there are a lot of rocks & pieces of coral that wash up on shore. You can take a paddleboat at your own leisure, or go sailing with a guide. However, since my wife & I are hard core snorkelers, this was a definite paradise!! The reef was conveniently located right there at the beach, and all you had to do was strap on your snorkeling gear and climb in through a ladder and away you go. You will see a lot of incredible fish such as different colored tangs, parrotfish, snappers, those yellow & black striped ones that I call "bee fish" there were even squids & angelfish on the shallower areas, but don’t go too far by the point as there’s a lot of black spiny sea urchins. We did see a few lionfish, and as cool as they are, use your common sense and do not approach them as they are poisonous if you get stung. There was even a small yellow stingray. I would say if you are a beach bum, this beach is OK, but if you’re a snorkeller, this is perhaps one of the best spots in the entire Caribbean. The best part is, you don’t have to pay big bucks to go out to an overcrowded coral reef. You can come & go as you please and stay as long as you want… I certainly did for 4 hours til my legs cramped up. I can honestly say that this snorkelling site alone was better than any I’ve seen in Cozumel, or the Dominican Republic. We would come back to this hotel just for the snorkelling experience. Every day I would take some bananas & bread (stuff it in a water bottle) and feed the fish… when they see you have food, I guarantee they will follow you all over the place 🙂 The pool was nice & relaxing, never overcrowded, and as mentioned earlier, the pool bartender was great… always service with a smile.
Activities on and off the Resort/Hotel:
There was a fairly good selection of excursions, but since we spent most days snorkelling, we did go on the catamaran. It was $120 CUC, but well worth it. Our guide was an older gentleman named Alfredo, and he was simply awesome. He would always go the extra mile to make you feel welcome and ensure that everyone on the boat was having a good time. It was a day long tour that took you to a dolphin swim site that I would say was much better than Dolphin Island in Punta Cana. You got more time with the dolphins, and you were able to interact with them more, and the dolphins themselves seemed very friendly. If you tip an employee there, they will take pics with your camera, and they did a great job. At the end of your swim, they will allow you to take a shot with one of the dolphins on the deck where the trainers are. A truly priceless photo if you love dolphins like I do. From there you go to another snorkelling site, which was also very good, but crowded. You’d see pretty much the same fish as you did back at the resort. To top off a very memorable day, you got a lobster dinner at a spot that overlooked the ocean. Before you boarded the bus, Alfredo took your order for dinner, and you had a choice between lobster & chicken. We also took a cab to the town of Guardalavaca which was about a 35km drive from the resort. There was a very nice beach, and the market there had a lot of unique Cuban souvenirs to choose from. The vendors there are not pushy at all, and unlike the Dominicans, they let you shop in peace and the prices were very reasonable.
Overall, this was an incredible resort, a very memorable experience for our first time to Cuba. Some people have said the food was terrible in past reviews, but not here, the food was excellent no matter which place you ate at. Some whine about rooms, well if you’re going to base your vacation on your room alone, then stay home!! I can’t say enough about the snorkelling though, it was far better than what I expected. My wife & I would definitely come back to this place.