Updated: Sep 28
Memories Paraiso Beach Resort is located in the heart of Cayo Santa María, a key off the northern Cuban island. From the stained glass windows to the classic thatched roofs, Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort incorporates the rich culture of Santiago de Cuba with Spanish colonial architecture to create a vibrant all-inclusive vacation resort right on a smooth stretch of velvety sand and naturally clear blue waters.
The resort is quite large and includes access to a sister resort as well where restaurants, activities and amenities are shared including a shopping district. The buffets and bars at each resort serve the exact same menu, however.
There are several multi-storied units spread out over great distances and a paved pathway connects the entire resort together. There are trams that randomly pick people up as they are walking to and from different destinations, however, these trams were disorganized and seemed to stop and go at no particular area. What is even more concerning is that the trams have the right-of-way on the pathway and honk at people to step aside as they drive by. There were several times when the trams would brake hard because of children on the narrow pathways or the elderly who could not step aside as quick as the driver would have liked. This danger is elevated at night as the pathways are poorly lit or have no lighting whatsoever.
The grounds are well taken care of and the pool and beach areas are very clean with staff taking particular care. The ground just outside the pool area, however, is very dry.
The Memories Paraiso Beach Resort serves up a collection of ten restaurants. Enjoy the casual and relaxed settings at two buffet restaurants, which offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner (however, each of these offers the same menu, so just go to the closest one to you)
There are seven specialty à la carte restaurants, featuring Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Tex-Mex cuisine. There is also a Surf n Turf restaurant and a steak restaurant but these are reserved for guests who enrolled in the Diamond Club. This added cost may not be worth it, as food at all these restaurants was not memorable.
The Buffet restaurants offered a wide variety of foods but they seemed to run out of food very quickly, or food was re-laid out or repeated several times during the week. If you like a variety day-to-day, then this resort did not accommodate.
Activities & Amenities
Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort's main attraction is its beach and this is where most of the action takes place. The water is crystal clear and the white sand is insanely powdery. On windy days the calm beach offers up some great waves to splash around in.
The beach also has a current that takes you horizontally across the beach. It isn't dangerous, but beware that if you are floating and swimming you might find yourself further down the beach where you left your family and towel.
The resort also features two large pools and children's pool to cool down in and enjoy water activities such as volleyball and aerobics.
At night entertainment is set in a grand 1200 seat outdoor auditorium and for most Caribbean resorts their entertainment team was very good.
If you wonder next to the resort you will find a shopping and restaurant area called Pueblo La Estrella. Here you will find craft vendors, live music, spas and massages, storefronts and restaurants. Be aware, however, than nothing here is included in your all-inclusive price. It is, however, a good place to take a stroll and do some local shopping as the resort is a ways from other cities and towns. It is about 116 km from the airport in Santa Clara, Cuba.
The resort also features a large tennis court area and a small gym for those looking to stay in shape.
There are many excursions from Memories Paraiso, but keep in mind a lot of them take a great deal of time to get to. On our vacation we did three excursions that were quiet enjoyable.
The first was a Jeep Safari where you drive your very own 4X4, four-seat Suzuki (manual transmission only) to the town of Yaguajay for a safari through the area’s lush forests, picturesque fields and coastal roads and then into the Caguanes National Park. You also visit historic plantations where you can learn how sugar cane and tobacco are cultivated to produce the island’s famous rum and cigars. Then, you will visit a local farm for a delicious lunch while enjoying live music and dance in a Palenque performance. On some tours you are offered a chance to swim in a river or take a horse back ride. We opted for the horseback ride and it was a fun little side trip.
Our next excursion brought us into the jungle at Toppes de Collantes nature park, home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Here we took the "Rambo" tour where we hiked up with a guide and saw amazing waterfalls and got to swim through rivers and cliff dive off a variety of water falls. This was certainly a lot of fun and full of excitement.
Next, we decided to slow down a little bit on our excursion adventures and visited a local dolphin preservation area off the coast of Cayo Ensenachos. Of course, you can swim with Dolphins here, but we decided not to partake in that activity. Instead we learned about dolphins and their behaviours and then visited with them in a shallow area where we could touch them and take photos.
We also took a Truck Tour to a cave and forest area and enjoyed hiking about in the jungle while learning about the plants and animals.
Our last excursion was a Catamaran boat ride and snorkelling. The snorkelling area was pretty barren and only included about three varieties of fish that were very thin in numbers. The Catamaran was fun but the snorkelling is not the best we have done.
The Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Resort in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba has one huge attraction - the beach. If the beach is your top priority, you will not be disappointed. The resort is large and not particularly laid out well and food is about average for a Cuban all-inclusive resort.
We would recommend this resort if you find a great price as there are some deficiencies that take it down to about a 2.5 to 3 star resort (and not the 5 Star advertised). The grounds took a big hit on our overall experience because of the unorganized and dangerous tram transportation at the resort.
Overall Experiences: 61%
Maid Service 4/5
Friendliness of Staff 4/5
Activities & Amenities 3/5