Old Reviews – Club Amigo Caracol

I travelled to Caracol with a couple I had met previously at Jibacoa. We went with Nolitours and the air carrier was Skyservice. No problems with the flight. Transfer to the hotel is about a 90 minute drive. We arrived after dark. Check in was reasonably quick. Staff were helpful…..the bell boy took my bags to my room and made sure I knew where everything was and how it worked.

Room: A decent size with twin beds, night tables, dresser, TV and air conditioning with remote….a nice touch if you want to change the setting after you are in bed. Lots of closet space to hang your clothes, and also four drawers and a safe with a mechanical key. There is an adjoining sitting room with a mini fridge and a patio door to the balcony. The bathroom is a good size with 4 piece bath and a hairdryer, also a 240 volt universal plug outlet that I used to charge my digital camera battery. Note that the water is solar heated and very hot! Lots of water pressure as well. The best shower I’ve ever had in Cuba. I had an ocean view that was wonderful. Unfortunately the window would not open. They are currently doing renovations, and I noted a number of windows stacked ready to be installed on the "pink" side of the resort, so hopefully soon the windows will be replaced. My balcony door opened with a bit of effort on my part. The beds are a bit "tired" but I found them comfortable enough. The room was kept spotlessly clean by the maid.

Resort Grounds: Attractive and well kept. The gardeners are at work early, before it gets too hot. The accommodation is set out in a circular pattern which seems a bit like a maze until you get used to it.

Restaurants: There is a buffet restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a beach restaurant/snack bar which turns into an a la carte at night. The food was basic Cuban resort fare. I found it pretty good. There is a pasta bar at lunch and dinner, also a grill for eggs at breakfast and fish or meat at other meals. Desserts were the usual assortment of cakes and cookies, and they had some very nice donuts most days. Good ice cream at supper, but not at lunch. The snack bar has good french fries, and otherwise serves burgers and hot dogs as well as fish. There is a "dine around" feature that allows you one meal per room next door at Mayanabo each week. We went twice (2 rooms) and enjoyed their buffet. Caracol’s a la carte is pretty basic….edible, but nothing special. Choice of beef, chicken or fish. I wouldn’t bother again….the buffet was better. Wine is served with meals but not at the bars. Coffee at the buffet is often tepid. I complained and they brought me a cup so hot I couldn’t touch it for five minutes! (Cuban humour, I’m sure.) Wait staff were great. I didn’t have to get my own orange juice and they brought me coffee from the lobby bar most mornings.

Bars: Lobby bar, pool bar (including swim up bar) and beach bar (not right on the beach, but at the snack bar, fairly close to the beach). I don’t do mixed drinks much, so can’t comment except that the Spanish coffee is good at the lobby bar if the bartender who knows how to make it is on. No problem with service.

Pool: I never used it, but it appeared to be nice and clean. There are lots of loungers but no much shade. There is a swim up bar.

Beach: This is not a swimmers beach. Too shallow, too much sea grass and debris…..rocks, shells, etc. underfoot. If you want to swim, bring water shoes. You will need them. On the other hand, it is a snorkeller’s paradise! Lots and lots of things to see. We went snorkelling every day, several times a day. About 150 meters straight out from Caracol there is a patch of coral with many varietals of fish. We saw something new every time we went. I’ve been googling species and think I have identified Fairy Basslet, Trumpet Fish, Soldier Fish, Queen Triggerfish, Spotfin Butterfly Fish, Squid, possibly a Trunkfish, and many, many others I don’t know the names of. Of course, Barracuda, Yellowtails, Sergeant Major fish, Blue Tang…..all the "usual suspects". We also saw crabs, and something that looked a lot like a snake but was probably a Goldspotted Eel. We also snorkelled around the piers in front of Mayanabo and Gran Club. Also lots of fish, including the largest school of juvenile Barracuda (18" – 24") I’ve yet seen. Standing on the pier I saw an extremely weird looking creature that I took a picture of and showed to one of the Cuban sailors. He told me what kind of fish it was in Spanish, but so far I have no English translation and have been unable to find anything similar using Google. In short, a great deal to see in the water….on a par, if not better, than Jibacoa. The beach is also long with white sand that varies in texture from fine to coarse. Due to the proliferation of sea grass, it is not a nice beach to walk barefoot, although I did. If you usually wear shoes to walk the beach, it is just fine. You can go miles in both directions. It is, however, a public beach, and you may be approached by people wanting to sell or trade you things. I walk early, so this was seldom a problem for me.

Excursions: There are quite a few excursions available, including a "last day, Camaguey" opportunity, (if you are on the Thursday Toronto flight) where you leave the resort early and tour Camaguey before going to the airport. You can go snorkelling at the reef, go to the lagoon to see Flamingos, and possibly see wild dolphins. You can go to Coco Beach for a meal and to see the sunset. There are also lots of "unofficial" tours you can arrange locally….ask around. We went to Coco Beach to snorkel, and also went snorkelling off the beach at the east end of Santa Lucia where there is a sunken ship (a boat, really) and the reef is close to shore. This was inexpensive. We took a buggy ride and at the beach there was a guide available to escort you snorkelling.

Activities: Sailing!! Really good sailing!! Had a blast on the Hobie Cat almost every day. The staff are good sailors and windy days are fun! Caracol only has one Hobie, so make your reservations early….it is popular! I also took out the X14 on a quiet day. I wouldn’t have wanted to try it in high winds. The hiking extension was missing from the tiller, and the rope holding the centerboard down was badly frayed. There are peddleboats and sea kayaks available. I didn’t bother with activities at the pool, so can’t report on those. There are bicycles available and you can ride into town or to Coco Beach, for that matter. (some people did).

Entertainment: I didn’t stay up for the shows. However, one afternoon they had entertainment before supper and it was pretty good. There are also 2 night clubs close at hand if you want to go out. I didn’t do this either, but I understand one in particular might be someplace you would want to avoid.

Internet: This was not available at the resort, although I saw it at Gran Club next door. However, about 1 mile down the road there is a telephone center with Internet and I rode a bike there every day to send email. It was very good….fast for Cuba….and cost 6 CUC per hour. I had 25 minutes left on my card at the end of the week.

Overall: I had a blast at Caracol. The weather was perfect and I kept busy snorkelling and sailing every day. With rainy weather I might not have been as happy. It is a small resort (150 rooms) and there would not be a lot to do on a rainy day. That said, this little resort is a real gem. Great staff, comfortable accommodation, and a super location if you like snorkelling and sailing. There is also a dive shop just down the beach (Shark’s Friends) for those who like to Scuba. One downside….the nightclubs can be noisy, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Depending on where your room is and what way it faces, noise could be a problem. With windows closed and air conditioning on, it didn’t bother me…..but my room was facing away from it. I would highly recommend this hotel for someone who enjoys the beach and isn’t looking for 5 star amenities.

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