The King's gardens in the the Sabana-Camaguey archipelago. From Punta Hicacos down to Cayo Sabinal.
Jardines del Rey is the name given to several islands or « Cayos in Spanish », located in the central north of Cuba. These islands are part of a larger archipelago called Sabana-Camaguey with over 2.500 islands of 450 kilometers long. From Punta Maternillos east of Cayo Sabinal in Camagüey province (near the tourist center of Playa Santa Lucia) up to Punta Hicacos in the Matanzas province (Varadero peninsula).
Jardines del Rey is a group of islands stretching over 200 kms in the north-west sector of the archipelago Sabana-Camaguey. The following islands are part of the King's garden islands: Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Coco, Cayo Judas, Cayo Romano, Cayo Paredon Grande, Cayo Megano Grande, Cayo Eusebio, Cayo Cruz, Cayo Guajaba and Cayo Sabinal. Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Santa Maria are the main tourist destinations of the king's gardens.
In the sixteenth century, Diego Velazquez, while sailing around Cuba, describes this archipelago of islands « Jardines del Rey » in honor of the King of Spain. Officially known today as the Archipelago of Sabana-Camaguey. These islands are rich in vegetation, animals, and of course, the beauty of turquoise and clear water. Cayo Guillermo has the highest sand dunes in the Caribbean. Playa Pilar is considered to be the pearl of the king's gardens.
Since most of the islands are located far from the coast, few people have colonized these islands, apart from the privateers and pirates who took refuge to protect against hurricanes. Ernest Hemingway was known to sail these waters aboard his yacht « Pilar » during the Second World War to watch for German submarines. Ernest Hemingway's story is fascinating and closely linked to Cuba.
Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo are the first tourist destinations in this region of Cuba, followed by Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Ensenachos. There are currently more rooms in Cayo Santa Maria than the total of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo.
The island of Cayo Coco is connected to Cuba by a causeway « pedraplen » in the sea inaugurated on July 26th, 1988. The airport of Cayo Coco welcomed its first tourists on December 26th, 2002. Before the construction of the airport on the island of Cayo Coco, tourists arrived at the international airport of Ciego de Avila (AVI). From there, they had to take buses for an hour and half drive to the hotels of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. The same problem now happens for Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Ensenachos in the province of Villa Clara. There is a probability, they will construct an airport in Caibarien. We are on the verge of new developments in Cuba, and the king's gardens are being targeted by the Cuban government for tourism development. They made the effort to build to causeway to expand the tourism industry.
With such beautiful beaches and turquoise waters, this archipelago has a considerable tourist potential. The advent of the future U.S. customers seems to be inevitable. We cannot blame the government to build as many hotels as they are doing now. Otherwise, there will not be enough rooms for all tour operators!
(located East of Cayo Guillermo)
370 kms in diameter and over 22 kms of white sandy beaches lapped by turquoise waters protected by coral reefs. Eighty-five percent of its territory is covered with vegetation. 200 species of birds live there and a colony of 30,000 flamingos.
Cayo Coco is a lot bigger than Cayo Guillermo but not the biggest of the King's gardens.
Visit www.cayocococuba.net to know more.
(located West of Cayo Coco and East of Cayo Santa Maria)
A charming little island of 13 square kilometers. The hotel's beach « Playa El Paso » is very beautiful, made of fine white sand that stretches over three kilometers. The jewel of the island is unquestionably Playa Pilar, one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. The dunes in Cayo Guillermo are the highest in the Caribbean, of 16 m above sea level.
Visit www.cayoguillermocuba.net to know more.
Cayo Paredon Grande
(located East, few km from Cayo Coco)
A tiny island of six square kilometer located east of Cayo Coco in a protected territory of the Buenavista Biosphere. Cayo Paredon Grande is another gem of the king's gardens in terms of beaches in a natural environment. A lighthouse was built in 1857, over 48 meters tall. There is a project to build four hotels on this island. We will keep an eye on this new development.
Visit www.cayoparedon.net (under construction)