Cayo Santa Maria
There are four small islands in the middle of the north coast of Cuba. These islands are located near the main island in the Atlantic Ocean and welcome vacationers with exclusive beaches. The Cayos Ensenachos and Santa Maria are connected to the mainland by a causeway.
All the cayos have snow-white beaches, crystal-clear and shimmering turquoise sea, rich sea life with impressive coral reefs full of colorful tropical fish. The bays of the islands are home to many water birds, such as flamingos. Of course, there are also luxurious hotel resorts on all the islands.
Cayo Santa Maria & Cayo Ensenachos
In the northeast of the island lies the Gaviota Beach. It borders with the Cayo Santa María Nature Reserve, which is covered with lush vegetation that provides a habitat for numerous species of birds. The Pueblo La Estrella, a complex of buildings in a central location, includes an artisan market, restaurants and bars. The Delfinario Cayo Santa María features dolphin and sea lion shows.
Sights & Activities
- Various activities are offered at the Delfinario Cayo Santa Maria. It is possible to book a guided tour directly from the hotel. A special offer is swimming with the dolphins, where small groups of visitors go into the water with the animals. About 30 minutes in the water with dolphins costs 75 USD, including transfer. Alternatively, you can come to the delphinium on your own and pay an entrance fee of 5 USD. The delphinium can be reached comfortable by sightseeing bus. Taking photos during the show costs an additional 5 USD. If you book a swim, you can also have photos or a video taken for an additional 36 USD.
- Gaviota Tours offers a day trip on a catamaran. The excursion starts in the morning around 8 am from the hotel. After the bus transfer to the pier, the catamaran will take you to a dream beach on a lonely cay. After an hour, the tour continues with a visit to the delphinium, where a show can be seen. After lunch - usually there is seafood (with lobster, crabs and fish) - you can snorkel in a coral reef for about an hour. During the cruise, you will be given free drinks. Around 5pm, you will return to the hotel, just in time for dinner. The catamaran excursion is offered every day and is priced at 80 USD for adults. Children have a discount and pay 47 USD.
- The Jeep-Safari starts in the morning at 8 am at your hotel. By bus, it goes to the small town of Caibarién, where the 4x4 vehicles are handed over. A tour follows over rural roads, with panoramic views of the countryside. A farm will be visited. For lunch, a Creole meal of roast pork is served. After lunch, there is a possibility to take a swim in a local river. Later you will return to Caibarién and by bus to the hotel. The jeep safari is offered daily and priced with 57 USD for adults and 42 USD for children. The vehicles are filled with four people. Those who are willing to pay a surcharge of 35 USD / per free seat can drive alone. To drive alone, a driver's license must be present, all insurances are included. It is an ideal excursion to experience something more authentic as the beach and the resorts.
If you arrive by rental car, you will use the connecting road that crosses the shallow bay. The road crosses numerous bridges and reaches the Cayo Santa Maria after about 50 km. A toll of 2 USD must be paid in order to use this road.
During the day, a modern double-decker bus runs between the hotels and the other points of interest. A ride will cost you 2 USD. The buses are open on top, so you should not forget your sunscreen and also bring enough water with you.
In addition, there are cabs. A ride on the Cayos usually costs no more than 10-15 USD. There are also vintage cabs available, which are only insignificantly more expensive as the regular cabs.
Everybody that would like to make a detour to the mainland, can either take a driver or a rental car. If you don't want to drive by yourself, expect to pay around $100 USD for half a day and $150 USD for a full cab day. If you prefer to rent your own vehicle, take a look at our guide on how to rent a car in Cuba.
There is a small airport on Cayo Las Brujas. However, the airport handles only a few small planes. Those who have booked a package deal will in most cases fly to Santa Clara and be taken from there by bus to the Cayos.
In the region there are a number of worth seeing tourist destinations, which can be reached by rental car but also by cab.
- When leaving the cayos, you will first reach the small town of Caibarién. The town has a nice historic center, which is located close to the beautiful Parque La Libertad. Northeast of the city center there is a beautiful beach on an island. The place is perfect for package holidaymakers who want to get a taste of Cuban everyday life.
- A few kilometers inland lies Remedios, one of Cuba's oldest towns with over 500 years of history. The town is known for its picturesque historic center. Important buildings bear witness to the former importance of the city. During the 18th and 19th century, Remedios achieved high prosperity through the cultivation of coffee, cocoa, sugar cane and tobacco. In mid to late December, the town hosts one of Cuba's most important festival, they so called Parrandas de Remedios.
- Between the two towns is the Museum of the Sugar Industry, the Museo de Agroindustria Azucarera, located. The museum gives a great insight into the production of the commodity that has been so important in Cuba's development. There are also a number of old steam railroads to visit.
- Further destinations for excursions are the towns of Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus and Trinidad. Another treasure of breathtaking nature can be found in the close Sierra del Escrambray.