Varadero Beach, named for an estate that was built in the area during the 19th Century, Varadero, is thought to have been first settled by native people thousands of years ago who lived off of the bounty of the sea and inhabited the areas many caves.  There is still debate as to who these native people were, though they did leave behind some cave writing and small artifacts.

In more modern times, since the late 19th Century, Varadero Beach has been known as Cuba's premier resort area.  First built up commercially in the 1930's, it was during the 1950's, before the Communist Revolution, that Varadero became the chosen vacation spot for many of Cuba's elite: doctors, lawyers, and prominent businessmen.  Regular, working class Cubans were not allowed into Varadero's resorts as patrons, although they often worked at them as employees. 

It was because of this type of unequal treatment among the Cuban population that Castro's revolution in 1959 was a success.  He promised the Cuban people that no one would be discriminated against because of race or economic means, and for some years Varadero fell into disrepair as foreign tourism dropped off.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990's, Cuba lost a great deal of its economic support and turned once again to tourism to help pay its bills.  Varadero is once again a premier resort area, primarily for Canadians and Europeans.  The area's resorts are not open to Cubans, although they often work at them, a fact that concerns many Cuban communists who worry that the past may be repeating itself and that capitalism will eventually take hold of the country again.