The Cuban tourist destinations of Varadero and Cayo Coco are among the 25 best beaches in the world, according to a survey by the travel review website TripAdvisor, one of the largest global networks on travel.
The top 25 beaches were chosen by million of tourists who gave their opinions to the site. Varadero was placed at No. 10 and Cayo Coco at No. 20 on TripAdvisor's 2012 Travellers Choice Awards list.
The list's top five winners for best beaches were Providenciales (Turks and Caicos), Palm/Tagle Beach (Aruba), Tulum (Mexico), Negril (Jamaica) and Saint Pete Beach, Florida (United States).
Varadero, about 140 kilometres east of Havana, is considered as Cuba's main tourist destination, and features 20 kilometres of fine white sand beaches on the peninsula of Hicacos, in the western province of Matanzas.
Ongoing projects are adding value to its attraction, such as a relevant hotel infrastructure, with outstanding establishments such as the Iberostar Varadero, Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa, and Blau Varadero Hotel Cuba, all of them five-star hotels.
These facilities have won numerous awards for their high-quality service, and the industry as a whole is seeking to protect the environment and provide their guests favourable natural surroundings.
Another of Varadero's charms is its golf club, with an 18-hole course, the only one of its type in the country. Major international tournaments are organized here, such as the Copa Montecristo, which is set for April 2013.
For its part, Cayo Coco is a small island that is part of the Jardines del Rey archipelago, a tourist destination in the central-northern region, in Ciego de Ávila province. Cayo Coco has excellent hotel facilities, and spaces that are very much in demand for ecotourism and nautical recreation.
Interestingly, both Varadero and Cayo Coco were referred to by U.S. novelist Ernest Hemingway, when he immortalized them in his novel Islands in the Stream.
Both destinations are ideal for photography, active vacations and discovering new landscapes, and every year, they are occupying more and more of a priority in holiday planning for people from all over the world, especially Europe.
TripAdvisor conducts annual surveys to learn about travellers' opinions and to guide those interested in finding new and better places to visit.
For three straight years, Varadero has welcomed one million foreign visitors. The Hotel Meliá Cayo Coco, for its part, was included in the 2012 Travellers Choice awards because of its quality and respect for the environment.
Every year, Cuba as a whole welcomes more than two million visitors, accommodating them in more than 60,000 rooms in some 300 hotels all over the country.