For those with a head for heights, Varadero's greatest thrill has to be skydiving at this base at the old airport just west of Varadero. The terminal is 1km up a dirt road, opposite Marina Acua. Skydivers take off in an Antonov AN-2 biplane of WWII design (don't worry, it's a replica) and jump from 3000m using a two-harness parachute with an instructor strapped in tandem on your back.

After 35 seconds of free fall the parachute opens and you float tranquilly for 10 minutes down onto Varadero's white sandy beach. The center also offers less spectacular (but equally thrilling) ultralight flights at various points on the beach. Prices for skydiving are CUC$180 per person with an extra CUC$45 for photos and CUC$60 for video. Ultralight flights start at CUC$30 and go up to CUC$300 depending on the length of time. If you are already a qualified skydiver, solo jumps are also available on production of the relevant certification.

A day's notice is usually required for skydiving (which many hotels can book on your behalf), and jumps are (obviously) weather dependent. Since opening in 1993 the center has reported no fatalities.
-Carretera Vía Blanca Km 1.5

This operator features a variety of helicopter tours in Russian M1-8 choppers; the Trinidad trip (CUC$199) is popular. The Tour de Azúcar (sugarcane tour) visits a disused sugar mill and takes a steam-train ride to Cárdenas station. Prices are CUC$39/30 per adult/child. It also organizes 4WD safaris to the scenic Valle de Yumurí. The excursion (adult/child CUC$45/34) includes a visit to a campesino family and a huge, delicious meal at Ranchón Gaviota.
-Calle 13. Btwn Avs 2 & 3

Varadero's top scuba facility is the mega-friendly, multilingual Barracuda Diving Center. Diving costs CUC$50 per dive with equipment, cave diving is CUC$60 and night diving costs CUC$55. Packages of multiple dives work out cheaper. Barracuda conducts introductory resort courses for CUC$70, and ACUC (American Canadian Underwater Certifications) courses starting at CUC$220, plus many advanced courses. Snorkeling with guide is CUC$30.

When a north wind is blowing and diving isn't possible in the Atlantic, you can be transferred to the Caribbean coast in a minibus (90-minute drive); this costs a total of CUC$55/75 for one/two dives. Other popular trips include Cueva Saturno for cave diving and Playa Coral for snorkeling.
- Av Kawama. Btwn Calles 2 & 3

While it's no Pebble Beach, golfers can have a swinging session at this uncrowded and well-landscaped club: Cuba's first and only fully fledged 18-hole course (par 72). The original nine holes created by the Du Ponts are between Hotel Bella Costa and Du Pont's Mansión Xanadú; another nine holes added in 1998 flank the southern side of the three Meliá resorts.

Bookings for the course are made through the pro shop next to the Mansión Xanadú (now a cozy hotel with free, unlimited tee time). Bizarrely, golf carts (CUC$30 per person) are mandatory.
-Mansión Xanadú

Aquaworld Marina Chapelín organizes Varadero's nautical highlight in the popularity stakes: the Seafari Cayo Blanco , a seven-hour sojourn (CUC$95) from Marina Chapelín to nearby Cayo Blanco and its idyllic beach. The trip includes an open bar, lobster lunch, two snorkeling stops, live music and hotel transfers. There's also a shorter CUC$45 catamaran tour with snorkeling, open bar and a chicken lunch.
-Autopista Sur Km 12

This two-hour guided trip, leaving from the Marlin Marina Chapelín, is a speedy sortie through the adjacent mangroves on two-person jet skis or motorboats to view myriad wildlife including friendly crocs. Bookings for all these watery excursions can also be made at most of the big hotels.