At least for Americans in recent decades, travel to Cuba has been taboo and off-limits; however, loosened restrictions are making it the new hot spot for island travel.  The tourism industry in Cuba has been growing rapidly, and there are tons of things to do and see in this once-forbidden land. It might be best known for cigars, Communism, and mojitos, but the country’s relative isolation has also preserved its rich culture and history.

You might feel like you’ve stepped back in time seeing the classic 1950s American cars that line the streets, with music on every corner, and art everywhere you look. Cuba is a wonderful place to lounge along the beach, explore historical sites, catch a baseball game, and savor the authentic cuisine at family-owned restaurants.

And although it might not yet be known as a top luxury destination, it’s well on its way. These are some of the best luxury resorts in Cuba today.

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Royalton Cayo Santa Maria Royalton Cayo Santa Maria
Royalton Cayo Santa Maria

Royalton Cayo Santa Maria

The Royalton Cayo Santa Maria has gained lots of praise from winning TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice “#1 All-Inclusive Resort in the World” back in 2014 and a feature on ABC News. This is an adults-only resort that’s located about 116 kilometers from Santa Clara International Airport. The vibe here is romantic and luxurious, with attentive room service, a la carte dining, and amenities.

Royalton Hicacos Resort & Spa Royalton Hicacos Resort & Spa
Royalton Hicacos Resort & Spa

Royalton Hicacos Resort & Spa

Head to the Hicacos Peninsula to visit the resort town of Varadero and stay at the Royalton Hicacos Resort and Spa. This is a great place to settle in for a spa vacation, as there are several swimming pools, steam rooms, saunas, stylists, and treatments available that the wellness center. It’s another adults-only resort that highlights its stretch of white sand beach and honeymoon offers. When you stay here, you’ll be about 140 kilometers east of Havana and about 35 kilometers from Varadero’s International Airport.

Hotel Tryp Habana Libre Hotel Tryp Habana Libre
Credit: melia.com
Hotel Tryp Habana Libre

Hotel Tryp Habana Libre

The Hotel Tryp Habana Libre is in the middle of El Vedado and close to the University of Havana, Havanan Rampa institutions, and the Malecón. This is a great place to stay to get a feel for the authentic charm of Old Havana. This is one of the largest hotels in all of Cuba, with a huge lobby, 25 floors, spacious standard rooms, and views of the Caribbean. There are quite a few meeting and convention rooms, making this a popular and convenient pick for business travelers. You can dine at the three onsite restaurants or visit the bars, cafeteria, or poolside grill during your stay.

Hotel Playa Pesquero, Suite & Spa Hotel Playa Pesquero, Suite & Spa
Hotel Playa Pesquero, Suite & Spa

Hotel Playa Pesquero, Suite & Spa

Nature lovers and eco-friendly travelers will enjoy the Hotel Playa Pesquero Resort, Suite & Spa, which is located next to Bahia de Naranjo National Park. This is the location where it’s believed that Christopher Columbus first landed in the islands. This hotel is considered to be an eco-village and is family-friendly. Stay here and you’ll enjoy unlimited meals in all the restaurants, and there are multiple restaurant options. Some of the popular activities to do in the area include attending traditional folklore programs and artistic performances, taking an intro SCUBA lesson in the pool, playing around with non-motorized water sports, and relaxing with board games.

Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa
Credit: melia.com
Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa

Paradisus Princesa del Mar Resort & Spa

Another Paradisus resort worth mentioning is the Paradisus Princess del Mar Resort and Spa, which has luxury rooms and is a cozy retreat for adults 18 years and older. One of the best parts about this hotel is the Hill Top Hideaway, which is a special area on top of a gentle hill that only allows private access. There are multiple restaurants and bars on site, as well as a health and beauty spa, beauty parlor, and gym. Diving is especially popular in this area, and Paradisus Resorts offer initiation courses in the pool and immersion courses in the sea. There are more than 500 diving sites in Cuba and the opportunity to see 850 kilometers of coral reef, crustaceans, sponges, fish, mollusks, and sunken ships.

Melia Cayo Coco Melia Cayo Coco
Melia Cayo Coco

Melia Cayo Coco

The luxurious adults-only resort of Melia Cayo Coco is consistently a favorite among travelers to Cuba. It’s near the country’s Jardines del Rey archipelago, Las Coloradas Beach, and Ciego de Avila. Here you’ll find cute and comfy bungalows that are built on stilts over the lagoon, and it’s connected to the mainland by a causeway over the sea.  Some of the modern rooms are also located on land near the beach. This is a great place for fishing, SCUBA diving, water sports, and lounging by the beach and pool. There are multiple specialty restaurants on site and lively bars that offer traditional Cuban and international cocktail options.

BLAU Costa Verde Beach Resort BLAU Costa Verde Beach Resort
BLAU Costa Verde Beach Resort

BLAU Costa Verde Beach Resort

Located in Playa Pesquero, Holguín, the Blau Costa Verde Plus Beach Resort is surrounded by tropical vegetation, peaceful gardens, and crystal clear Caribbean water. It’s part of eastern Cuba and about 34 miles from the Holguín’s city center. This is a family-friendly resort that has a Cuban souvenir shop, wellness area, gym, massage service, and rents out cars, motorbikes, and bicycles. The all-inclusive package includes meals, in-room mini bars, tennis courts, separate pools for adults and children, and equipment for water sports for kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and windsurfing. There are spacious rooms to choose here, and each of the rooms include large balconies or terraces.

Iberostar Laguna Azul Iberostar Laguna Azul
Credit: iberostar.com
Iberostar Laguna Azul

Iberostar Laguna Azul

The luxurious and all-inclusive Iberostar Laguna Azul is located on the shore of Playa Varadero provides five-star accommodations and has luxurious guest rooms on site. There are also six pools, a theater, multiple restaurants, a nightclub and bars located here. If you stay here, you’ll be just 10.6 miles from the city center and 25 miles from the airport. Childcare is available upon request and there’s a kids club for young ones between four and seven.

Paradisus Varadero Resort Paradisus Varadero Resort
Paradisus Varadero Resort

Paradisus Varadero Resort

The Paradisus Varadero Resort is a great place for families traveling with kids. It’s a family-friendly hotel that’s right along Varadero Beach and has lots of activities for kids under twelve. Parents who need a break can even drop kids under four off at the onsite babysitting service. There are luxury rooms, multiple restaurants and bars at this resort, which is surrounded by the Varadero Ecological Reserve. It’s easy to play a game of golf or indulge in a spa treatment while staying here.

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