This is a beach destination and, aside from lying on the beach and swimming in the clear waters of the Straits of Florida, most of the attractions and activities here are either found or conducted on or under the water. The nicest spot to visit in "downtown" Varadero is the Parque Josone, Avenida 1 between Calles 55 and 58 (tel. 45/66-7228), a beautifully maintained little city park with cool, shady grounds and gardens. There are paths winding around and over little lakes with fountains, several restaurants, and food stands, and the park is dotted with gazebos and park benches. The park is open daily from 9am to 11pm.
If it's raining, or you just can't take any more sunbathing, active adventures, or shopping, you could make a quick visit to the Museo Municipal Varadero, Calle 57 and Avenida de la Playa (tel. 45/61-3189). Open daily from 10am to 7pm (CUC$1), the exhibits inside are of less interest and appeal than the beautiful old building that houses the collection. The perfectly maintained blue-and-white, two-story wooden building, built by architect Leopoldo Abreus from Cienfuegos, has a gingerbread trim and red-tile roof; it is a tribute to colonial Caribbean architecture.
Near the Marina Chapelín, on the ocean side of the road, you'll find the Delfinario, Autopista Sur Km 12 (tel. 45/66-8031). Open daily from 9:30am to 5pm, this attraction offers a 40-minute show with trained dolphins at 11am and 3:30pm. Admission is CUC$15; it's CUC$5 extra to take photos and CUC$89 for a 15-minute swimming session with the dolphins if booked through a hotel. While this place is highly touted by tour agencies, I personally find this type of attraction -- and this one in particular -- to be depressing and on the cruel side.
If you want a bird's-eye view of things, the Centro Internacional de Deportes Aéreos, Vía Blanca Km 1.5, off a little side road across from the Marina Dársena (tel. 45/66-7256), offers parachute jumps and ultralight flights. Tandem parachuting costs CUC$160 per person. Ultralight flights start at CUC$45 for 10 minutes. You can also usually find ultralight flights leaving from different spots up and down the beach.
The Varadero Golf Club (tel. 45/66-8482; www.varaderogolfclub.com) features a lovely little resort course, with plenty of water, few trees, and almost no rough. There are beautiful views of Cárdenas Bay from most holes. Greens fees run CUC$70 for a round, plus an extra CUC$50 for a cart. Club rental will cost you CUC$50. You can play a twilight round of 9 holes for CUC$48 after 4pm.
A large swath of the eastern end of the peninsula is protected as the Parque Ecológico Varahicacos (Varadero Ecological Park). There are some gentle paths through the scrub forests here, and you can visit a series of small caves, some of which contain ancient indigenous pictographs. The park is broken up into two sections, with a small area close to the major hotel district, and the larger section farther east. It's open daily from 9am to 4:30pm; admission is CUC$3.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.