Cayo Santa Maria is located in the Atlantic Ocean near the islands of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, opposite the northern coast of the province of Villa Clara. It is connected to the mainland by the Pedraplain Dam, 48.6 km long. Nearby are the small islands of Las Brujas and Ensenchos.
Cayo Santa Maria itself is a miniature island with a length of only 13 km and a width of no more than 2 km, which belongs to the archipelago with the romantic name “Royal Gardens” (Jardines del Rey). The gardens, in turn, are under the care of UNESCO as an important biosphere reserve. Check 3rjewelry for other cities and countries as well as geography in Caribbean.
How to get there
Only 30 km separate the island from Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Coco, which can be reached in half an hour via the picturesque Pedraplen Dam. The nearest international airport is located in Santa Clara (1.5 hours on the way, shuttle buses run).
On the island of Las Brujas there is a small airport where local airlines fly from Havana (no more than 15 minutes drive).
Pedraplain is the only road on the island in its usual sense for Europeans, all the rest are sandy paths. You can ride a scooter or a jeep here, but you have to be careful, especially if you want to go to the eastern beaches (for example, Playa Perla Blanca).
For the use of the Pedraplén dam, a fee of 2 CUC per car is charged, in addition, at the entrance to the track, they may ask for proof that you are staying at one of the hotels in Cayo Santa Maria or Cayo Ensenachos.
Taxis are available around the clock at all hotels on the island and at the Royal Hideaway Cayo Ensenachos. However, for long trips it is better to book in advance. The fare to the village of Caibarien is 35 CUC one way / 65 CUC round trip, Remedios 40 CUC / 75 CUC, Santa Clara 65 CUC / 130 CUC and Cayo Ensenachos 5 CUC / 10 CUC.
The popular shopping and fun village of Pueblo La Estrella, famous for its restaurants, bars, discos, massage parlors and bowling alleys, is served by shuttle buses throughout the day. It is only 5.8 km from Royal Hideaway Ensenachos, 4 km from Sol Cayo Santa Maria, 3.3 km from Melia Cayo Santa Maria and 2.6 km from Melia Las Dunas.
- Cayo Santa Maria
Car and scooter rental
You can rent a scooter (the use of a helmet is mandatory in Cuba) – they are designed for two people, but it is better to take one-to-one: the capacities are small, the roads are sandy, the seats are small. Rental price from 12-14 CUC per hour, 1-2 days – 31-33 CUC per day, more than 3 days – 22-24 CUC per day, more than 5 days – 18-20 CUC per day.
Many hotels also offer bicycles to their guests, look for rental points in the same place where they rent a car or scooter. You should not expect luxurious animals with a bunch of speeds, shining with chrome-plated fashion gizmos – the climate and salty air do their job, everything rusts, so they are very reminiscent of “Storks” from childhood (although not everywhere).
It is also possible to rent a car, the most popular being manual jeeps. Cars, as a rule, are rented with a full tank, in the same way they must be returned. The only gas station is at Las Brujas Airport. Rental price per day, including insurance: jeep 55-70 CUC per 100 km, then 0.35 CUC for each additional km; for a simple car 60-65 CUC per 100 km and then the same 0.35 CUC for each subsequent km.
The beaches of Cayo Santa Maria
All beaches and hotels on Cayo Santa Maria are located on the north coast of the island. At the same time, the 11-kilometer coastline can be conditionally divided into 6 sections, ideal for long evening walks, swimming in the clear azure sea and just sunbathing. The hotels stretched for about 6.5 km along the sea, closer to the northwestern part of the island, each of them has its own strip of sand for guests – this is site number 1 – the equipped beaches of Melia Las Dunas and Barcelo, Melia Cayo Santa Maria and Sol Cayo Santa Maria.
However, all the beaches of Cayo Santa Maria are public, that is, no one will forbid sunbathing on one or another piece of land, even near the hotel, not counting beach number 3 (under red roofs). To get to distant beaches, such as Playa Perla Blanca, you will have to rent a scooter or bike, but keep in mind that the road is not in the best condition.
The entrance to the water, although gentle, but the depth begins quite quickly. In addition, there is practically no calm on Cayo Santa Maria (for calm water – on Cayo Guillermo). Winds almost always blow here, sometimes there are mini-storms, about which tourists are notified by a red flag on the beach.
All hotels on the island operate on an all-inclusive basis, which includes the use of non-motorized water sports – look for water clubs (water sports club; guests of the Sol Cayo Santa Maria use the club of their neighbor Melia Cayo Santa Maria).
All beaches near hotels, as a rule, are separated by natural dunes and mangroves, sometimes reaching up to 2 meters in height (as in the Barcelo hotel). This is protection from hurricanes and storms, which, alas, also prevents you from enjoying sea views from hotel hotels and restaurants.
Entertainment and attractions
In December 2009, a tourist village with the romantic name Pueblo La Estrella (“Starry”) was opened on Cayo Santa Maria, which is located approximately in the middle between the beach and the tropical thickets of the Barcelo Cayo Santa Maria hotel. As a rule, tourists come there solely for one purpose: to spend money, and, perhaps, have a little fun. At their service in Pueblo la Estrella are shops, restaurants, bars, a disco, a bowling club, a spa and a massage parlor, and souvenir shops.
A separate pleasure is to walk to the neighboring miniature island that lies to the west of Cayo Santa Maria and is called Cayo Ensenachos. There, in addition to the luxurious Royal Hideaway Ensenachos hotel – the only one on the island! – there are a couple of amazing beaches with white sand: Playa Ensenachos and Playa Megano.
Another small island to the west of Santa Maria is the island-airport of Cayo Las Brujas. There is also one hotel, a modern marina with a bar and a dive center, a 2-kilometer beach in a bay with very calm seas.
Finally, you can go to two small villages – the fishing village of Caibarien or the pretty Remedios. The latter also boasts its own church, school and other notable buildings.