Guardalavaca was originally a farming community, horse rearing is still a local speciality although the shoreline area which is about about 1 ml from end to end, abd is now given over totally to tourism.
The first hotel was inaugurated in the late 70s by Fidel Castro who swam in the pool. The village inland comprises several rundown apartment blocks and is home to about 200 inhabitants. The whole place depends completely on its superb, carefully maintained beaches. Tropical rains in May and June; sweltering weather in August.
The area is strictly for the get-away-from-it-all brigade seeking sun, sea and sand. There are water sports and scuba-diving enthusiasts catered for. There are lots of Canadians and a smattering of Europeans. The accommodation here is mainly all-inclusive options, with some sited at Playa Esmeralda. However, most all-inclusives actually exclude motorised water sports and some limit drinks to locally produced rum and beer. So if you want to drink French champagne and water-ski every day for free, check the tour-operator’s brochure very carefully.
Guardalavaca is situated towards the east end of Cuba’s north coast (500 mls SE of Havana, 15 mls NE of Santa Lucia, 45 mls NE of Holguin and its airport). It is on a stretch of rocky north west-facing shoreline with several fine beaches backed by rolling tree-covered hills.
The main beach is of the picture-postcard Caribbean variety with sand the colour and texture of caster sugar shelving gently into clean, warm turquoise water, it is about 800 yds long and up to 60 yds wide, backed by trees for shade and with a picturesque flower-lined promenade.
It features a diving centre, water sports, pedalloes, catamarans, sun loungers, bars, restaurants and even a disco. The private beach in front of Hotel Las Brisas is artificial. Playa Esmeralda is similar to the main Guardalavaca beach and is effectively for the private use of guests at its hotels. There is a rather tatty shopping centre by the beach caters mainly for locals but does include a bank, minimarket and travel agency; a few other embryo businesses are scattered about. Hotels all have more attractive offerings.
During the daytime apart from the activities provided by hotels, there is very little apart from the beach, water sports and scuba diving. There are several good dive sites featuring submerged caves and abundant sponges. You can take Catamaran cruises, go Horse riding and Sky diving.
The nightlife offers a disco near the beach, but all hotels provide nightly entertainment.
For food the main choice is in hotels, where the better, foreign-managed properties make a valiant effort with what is available but even they struggle to satisfy European expectations. A few independent offerings: seafood, Italian, Cuban and international. Food everywhere in Cuba is restricted in choice and often of comparatively poor quality, so it is definitely not a destination for gourmets.