Cuba’s youngest resort – Cayo Santa Maria
Cayo Santa Maria is one of the jewels in the necklace of islets in the north of Cuba’s central region of Villa Clara, an archipelago that earned the name of the Gardens of the King, where Hemingway’s stories unfolded. Santa Maria is a small island, and despite its relatively small size, it has everything that can attract tourists to a typical Caribbean island. Comfortable hotels have been built in recent years, making Cayo Santa Maria one of the most important beach destinations in the region.
Cayo Santa Maria takes its place in the Atlantic Ocean next to the island of Cayo Guillermo. It connects to the continent – a dam 48 km long. Nearby are the islands of Las Brujas and Ensenchos. Cayo Santa Maria (Cayo Santa Maria) is the last big project of the Cuban state in the development of tourism in Cuba. In the 2000s, Cuba opened to tourists from all over the world a new pearl in the necklace of Cuban islands – the island of Cayo Santa Maria.
Cayo Santa Maria – a tiny island with a length of thirteen kilometers and a width of two kilometers. It belongs to the archipelago with the romantic name “Royal Gardens”. These gardens are under the guardianship of UNESCO as the most important biosphere reserve. The island has the newest hotels and infrastructure, do not forget, the resort was opened only in the early 2000s, and now the island has only one hotel 4 and eight 5* hotels, with three of them new, offering a truly royal service.
Cayo Santa Maria is the youngest Cuban resort, which soon promises to catch up with promoted Varadero and Cayo Largo. So far the island has very few hotels, mostly belonging to Spanish chains. All hotels are located on the first line to the sea, are “All Inclusive” and offer guests a lot of entertainment: animation programs and evening shows, all kinds of water and not only sports, spa centers, fitness centers, equipped sites and mini-clubs for children.
How to get there
From Havana to the island of Cayo Santa Maria 395 km journey about 5 hours by car or 50 minutes by plane. The flight to the island from Havana requires a transit night in Havana back and forth. Only thirty kilometers separate this island from the island of Cayo Guillermo, which can be reached in thirty minutes through the dam. The nearest airport is located in Santa Clara. Las Brujas Island has a small airport where local airlines fly in from Havana.
The dam is the only road on the entire island, all others are sand trails. Riding a scooter or jeep on the island is possible, but you have to be very careful, especially if you want to walk to the eastern beaches. The island government charges a fee of 2 CUC per car for using the dam. In addition, when you enter the road, you may be asked for a document indicating that you are vacationing in one of the hotels on this island. 24-hour cabs are on duty at all hotels on the island, however, for long trips it is better to book a cab. A cab ride to Caibarien village will cost you 35 CUC and 65 CUC round trip. If you go to Remedios you will have to pay 40 CUC, the cheapest ride will be to Ensenachos 5 CUC. Special buses run throughout the day to the famous shopping village, Pueblo Estrella, which is popular for its restaurants, discos, bars, massage parlors and bowling alleys. This village is separated from Hideaway Ensenachos by six kilometers, Sol Cayo by four kilometers, and Melia Cayo by three and a half kilometers.
On the island, you can rent a scooter – it is designed for 2 people, however, it is advisable to choose vehicles designed for one person: scooter capacity is small, the roads are all sandy and with a heavy scooter will bump. Many hotels provide bikes for tourists, rent a scooter or car should be sought in the same place. Do not wait for luxury, shiny cars with chrome statuettes of animals – the climate and salty air works for itself – everything rusts, so that bicycles is the most relevant transport of this country. But if you want, of course you can buy a rental car, the most popular are – jeeps with manual transmission. Cars for rent with a full tank and in the same condition they must be returned. The only gas station on the island is located near the airport called Las Brujas. The cost of renting a car per day including insurance is: Jeep 47 CUC per hundred kilometers, then you pay 0,35 CUC for every additional kilometer.
All beaches, as well as hotels on Santa Maria are located on the north side of the island. The eleven kilometers of coastline can be divided into six sections, perfect for leisurely evening strolls, swimming in the sea and just for a nice tan. The hotels stretch for about eight kilometers along the edge of the sea, each hotel has its own private beach. Nevertheless, all the beaches of the island are public, meaning no one is forbidden to swim or sunbathe even near the hotel. To reach the beaches far away, such as Playa Perla Blanca, you will have to rent a scooter, but it is worth knowing that the road leading to the beach is not in perfect condition. The entrance to the water is very shallow and Cayo Santa Maria is almost never calm. The winds always blow, and sometimes there are even small storms, of which tourists are warned in advance on the beach. All hotels on the island work mainly on the “all inclusive” system, which includes in addition to free meals and alcohol – the use of non-motorized water sports equipment. All hotel beaches are separated by natural dunes and mangroves, reaching up to 3 meters in size. In this interesting way, the dunes protect the island from hurricanes and storms.
Entertainment and excursions
On Cayo Santa Maria there is an unusual village, more often than not, tourists come to this place solely to spend money, well, and of course to have fun. In the territory of Pueblo la Estrella there are a variety of restaurants, cafes, stores, bars, discos, bowling – clubs, massage parlors and shops with souvenirs, we assure you that you will not be bored. You can combine a relaxing vacation in Cayo Santa Maria with a cultural program: the nearby island of Cayo Ensenachos has a dolphinarium, you can also choose excursions to the revolutionary city of Santa Clara and the ancient town of San Juan de los Remedios. The entertainment on the island is undoubtedly diving, fishing, catamaran sailing. Excellent day and evening animation programs in hotels, common to all hotels mini village, where there is a walking area and stores, will allow you to diversify your stay on the island. In 2009, on Cayo Santa Maria next to the hotel Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria opened the shopping and entertainment center Pueblo-La Estrella, offering all kinds of services for tourists. So, here you can go to a real Cuban party, relax at a massage, have dinner in a restaurant or go shopping. There is even a literary bar, disco, banquet hall, conference rooms and a bowling alley with 6 lanes.