|Cayo Santa Maria is the most westerly of the Jardin del Rey archipelago, which runs for three hundred kilometres just off the north coast of Cuba. The island is connected via Cayo Las Brujas, to the mainland by a 40 km causeway, similar to the Florida Keys. Cayo Santa Maria boasts some of the best beaches in Cuba with wonderful fine whiter than white sand. The island is covered with natural unspoiled coastal low-lying forest full of wildlife, especially where there is surface water.
At present there are only two hotels on Cayo Santa Maria, both managed by the Spanish Hotel Group Sol Melia. Both of these hotels are on a stunning 14 km beach. The rest of the islands 40 kms of beaches are completely deserted. Cayo Santa Maria was declared a "Biosphere Reserve" by UNESCO. The sea is warm, clear and turquoise blue. Sun, beach and nature combined! You can ride the waves on a catamaran, go snorkelling along the coral reef, trek though the forests and mangroves, go cycling or horseback riding.
Sol Cayo Santa Maria Hotel is an All-Inclusive property with 300 rooms spread out in lush tropical gardens around an enormous central swimming pool and next to a stunning beach. Krister the half Swedish, half Spanish manager has always focussed on a very personal service, and has a very good team of staff who really make your stay a pleasure.
Another area that Krister has focussed on is food, which is a pleasant surprise in Cuba and another highlight of this hotel. The four restaurants all offer very different cuisines. In the buffet restaurant the chefs are actually preparing the food in front of you as the meals are being served so this ensures that the food is always fresh and tasty. His pastry chef personally prepares food for the Pope during his visits to the Americas, so needless to say these dishes are spectacular to. The Creole restaurant offers Cuban specialities such as spit roasted pig, grilled lobster and fresh red snapper. The Italian offers all the dishes you would expect, but all made from homemade pasta and freshly grown vegetables. The "gourmet" restaurant is stylish and offers a very high grade of international dishes and an impressive wine list. Although many of the wines, even pretty serious stuff, is included in your "all inclusive" package, there are also some very serious wines if you feel like pushing out the boat. During the day the thatched beach grill and bar cooks up fresh red snapper, chicken and other meats, and offers a great salad bar for the perfect lunch on the beach.
The spacious bedrooms are bright and comfortable. All the rooms have ensuite bathrooms, cable TV, fridges and a balcony overlooking the sea or tropical gardens. Suites are available on request subject to availability.
One of the great advantage of Cayo Santa Maria is that although you are on a stunning unspoiled island with fabulous beaches and nature, you are also connected to the mainland by a 40km causeway. This means that you can rent a car and explore the stunning mainland near by. Remedios is a Spanish Colonial town not far from the causeway, it is well worth visiting, especially early or late in the day when it is not too hot. The Escambray Mountains are a couple of hours drive south of Santa Maria, here there are some stunning walks where you can see wildlife, waterfalls, lakes and unspoiled forest. To the south of the mountains on the Caribbean coast is Trinidad, another beautiful Spanish Colonial town with plenty of things to keep you busy for a day.
Activities while in Cayo Santa Maria:
Salt Fly fishing and deep sea fishing: Due to the mass of small islands, lagoons and channels in and around Cayo Santa Maria there is some spectacular salt water fly fishing. There are some flats where you can catch bonefish, snook, permit and other shallow water predatory fish on a fly. In the channels and lagoons on the inland side of the island there is an abundance of very big Tarpon, especially large in the summer months, May to October. These can be caught on a fly or spinning using poppers and other "noisy" lures. Not far from the Sol Club on Cayo Las Brujas there is a fishing marina where you can rent flat bottom boats with a guide for fly fishing, or a deep sea fishing boat for going out to the deeper waters. If you are intending to visit this place specifically for fishing it is definitely a good idea if we pre-book fishing boats and guides as the word is out on how good this place is.
Scuba diving: Is available at Cayo Santa Maria for qualified divers or people wishing to learn to dive. There are impressive coral reefs a short distance from the hotel offering a variety of dives.
Excursions: In the hotel lobby is a activity desk where you can book various excursion including boat trips with snorkelling and lunch, sunset boat trips, mainland trips to the mountains, waterfalls and colonial towns. The hotel also has a wildlife specialist who can organise bird watching and nature treks. At certain times of year there are so many flamingos in the lagoons on the island that the clouds are pink from the reflection. There are also various caves on the island which have drawing from the Taino Indians who inhabited Cuba prior to the Spanish. Horse riding, cycling and trekking can all be arranged at this desk.
Watersports: are available from the beach, Hobey Cats, windsurfers, sailing dinghys and most unmotorised watersports are available free of charge all day.
Melia Cayo Santa Maria is due to open in late 2003 and will be a five star beach hotel. Please ask for details if this is of interest to you.