*See below for a few details about the holiday as I've had a lot of people asking!
about the holiday...
Our hotel was the Sol Palmeras in Varadero. We weren't sure what to expect from Varadero as it's one of the main tourist resorts on the island (which we would normally avoid!), but we were really pleasantly surprised. The hotels are all spread out so once you're in your hotel's grounds you have no idea there are other large hotels quite nearby. The stunning private beach was for hotel guests only and it looked like it was straight out of a holiday brochure - I've never seen colours like it. Almost all of the big hotels are all inclusive which we've never done before, but we couldn't fault it. It made things so easy with the kids and I have to say I would definitely be happy to do all inclusive again!
We had a couple of day trips out - one to Havana and one in a 4 x 4 jeep safari into the countryside. Havana was easily one of the most stunning cities I've ever visited - the whole place looked like a film set. We were driven there in a vintage American car and shown around all day by a wonderful tour guide. The whole of Cuba is stuck in a bit of a time warp ever since US sanctions were imposed after the Revolution at the end of the 1950s - that's why most of the cars date from that era. The time warp is visible everywhere you go in Cuba but perhaps even more so in Havana. Combine that with it being a World Heritage Site and it definitely makes for a spectacular place to visit. We spent most of our time in Old Havana (which dates back to the 1500s), as well as some of the landmarks from the Revolution. We also requested a trip into a more "normal" suburb to get a taste of real Cuban life and it was incredibly interesting, especially for the kids. It is incredibly safe there and walking around with the kids was a pleasure. I can't recommend it enough!
Our other day trip out in a 4 x 4 convoy was great fun! We (and by "we" I mean my husband as I'm a wuss) drove our own jeep all day (they didn't even check we had a driving licence!) and the kids loved seeing the Cuban countryside. We swam in a flooded cave, had lunch on a farm listening to a Cuban band, and finished the day with a speedboat trip through a mangrove lined river. The kids said it was their favourite day of the whole holiday (even better than the unlimited ice cream by the pool at the hotel which is saying a lot!).
In terms of practicalities, you don't need a visa to visit if you're a UK national - you just fill out a tourist card on the plane which takes 2 minutes and is usually included in the cost of your holiday. You can't get CUC (the Cuban currency used by tourists) outside of Cuba so instead we just took GBP cash and you can easily exchange it at the airport or hotel. Tipping is part of Cuban culture so try to get some small denominations if you can! We all had a few booster jabs before going, though there's nothing compulsory, only recommended. You also don't need anti malarial tablets at all in Cuba which is a bonus and although we took precautions with deet spray we actually didn't see a single mosquito the whole time we were there (but that was partly due to the season). We found Easter to be a great time of year to visit - very pleasant weather in the high 20s, and it's well before hurricane season starts (June - November).
So I think that covers most aspects of the holiday! It really was amazing and if you fancy a holiday somewhere a bit different then I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it!
And finally, if you want to view any of the photos individually, here's the full gallery....