CAYO SANTA MARIA is a small key, 16 km (10 mi) long by 2 km (1.2 miles) wide, located in the Bahia de Buena Vista off the north coast of the main island of Cuba, in the western part of the « Jardines del Rey » (King's Garden) archipelago. This archipelago is part of the UNESCO-recognized Buenavista Biosphere Reserve. CSM is part of a tourist pole of 3 cayos: Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas (a.k.a Los Cayos de Villa Clara).
Cayo Santa Maria is in the Villa Clara province but is located only 30 km (18.6 mi) as-the-crow-flies west from Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Coco, which are two other popular tourist destinations in the nearby province of Ciego de Avila.
Cayo Santa Maria is one of Cuba's most recently developed tourist poles, the first hotel opened its door late December 2001, there's now twelve.
Cayo Santa Maria is connected to the mainland by a 48 km (30 mi) causeway (called Pedraplen in spanish). The construction of this dike took 10 years (1989-1999) and the work was done by « Campaña de las villas ». The beaches and hotels are all located along the northern coastline of Cayo Santa Maria. The south coast is mainly dominated by salt marshes and mangroves.
Click to see a areal view of all hotels and other services on Cayo Santa Maria.
An important fact to take into consideration when choosing Cayo Santa Maria is that the sea condition could be somewhat rough and choppy, so it's not unusual to see red flags on the Cayo Santa Maria beaches. If you are looking for a flat and calm sea, you could then consider going to one of the other keys in the Jardines del Rey archipelago, such as Cayo Ensenachos (its neighbor), Cayo Guillermo, or Cayo Coco. They all have gorgeous beaches, but we found the beaches in Cayo Ensenachos (Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos) to be the most beautiful we've seen around Cuba.
What's new in « Los Cayos de Villa Clara » ?
† The new hotel Ocean Casa del Mar by H10 (800 rooms, construction name Laguna del Este II) is now scheduled to open in February 2016 (instead of January). We last visited the site in May 2015, it looked like it could easily be ready by early-2016, at least for the west part of the hotel which looked almost completed.
† Another hotel will be built in the Playa Perla Blanca sector. Construction name: Laguna del Este V, 804 rooms / opening 2018, between hotels Valentin and Ocean Casa del Mar.
† The hotel chain Eurostars left Cuba during the summer 2015. In the interim of a new administrator, the Eurostars Cayo Santa Maria was renamed Hotel Cayo Santa Maria and is currently administered by Gaviota.
† The new hotel Warwick Cayo Santa Maria (800 rooms, construction name Laguna del Este I) is now opened since mid-August 2015.
† A new commercial plaza (pueblo) is under construction in the sector of Lagunas del Este, just beside Hotel Ocean Casa del Mar. The official name has not been released yet. This new commercial center will offer: a Beach club, an Habano house & club (rum and cigars), a Cuban restaurant, a bowling alley and party saloon, shops, a Spa and a wedding chapel. Click HERE to see some pictures taken during its construction in May and October 2015.
† The construction of new hotels on the neighbor key Cayo Las Brujas has started. We visited the area at the beginning of May 2015, the first construction sites named "Las Brujas 1-2-3" are located between Playa Salina and Playa Manteca, near the Agustin channel. The construction names for the first hotels are: Farallon Bomba Este, Farallon Bomba Oeste and San Agustin. The also started filling the old saltworks to prepare the terrain (across from Playa Salina) for the construction of two more hotels. The whole project includes 5 new hotels totaling 2,682 rooms, plus a commercial plaza called "Flor de Sal". The first to open, in July 2016, will be Hotel Dhawa (managed by Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts). Click to discover our website dedicated to Cayo Las Brujas.
† Other future projects in Cayo Santa Maria include a golf course and a water park. These projects have not started yet.
Cayo Santa Maria's main attraction is its 13 km (8 mi) of magnificent beaches and turquoise waters, making it the perfect spot for long walks on the beach, swimming in crystal-clear waters, or just relaxing under the sun! Most of the resorts are located on the longest stretch of beach (6 km / 3.7 mi) called Playa Santa Maria; the others are on the eastern part of Cayo Santa Maria (Lagunas del Este and Playa Perla Blanca).
The tourism industry in CSM started in late 2001 with the opening of the first hotel, the Sol Cayo Santa Maria. Since then 10 other resorts were built. In a short period of time CSM became the second largest tourist pole in Cuba, after Varadero, but despite this fast development, Cayo Santa Maria remains a safe and quiet little island.
It was obvious that the 10-year effort required to built the 48-km causeway connecting CSM to the main island of Cuba would not have been for only 1 or 2 hotels. Cuba needs more rooms! Especially now considering that many steps have already been taken to restore diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.
The land and all hotels in Cayo Santa Maria are owned by the Cuban government, as well as all hotels in Cuba. In Cayo Santa Maria all properties belong to the Gaviota Cuban Group, but joint ventures and administation contracts are given to international hotel chains (such as Melia, Eurostars, Blue Diamond, Valentin, Warwick and H10) to help manage, promote and expand tourism in Cayo Santa Maria.
Our cayosantamaria.info webiste is online since the spring of 2002. Hundreds of webpages and thousands of photos are included, and it's updated very regularly. We're humbly proud to say that it has become THE biggest, most visited and most complete website dedicated to this Cuban destination on the web. We hope you find here everything you want to know about hotels, beaches, excursions, and more... Enjoy!
Normand & Lily
Please note that since the spring 2014, Cuba authority systematically stamps all passports when entering and leaving the country. And also: as of May 1, 2015, the Cuban Departure Tax is no longer paid at destination. It should now be included in the price of your trip when buying a flight-only or package to Cuba.
In October 2013 the Cuban Government announced its intention to eliminate their dual currency system (CUC and CUP). To our best knowledge, it seems like no schedule has been officially announced yet for this plan to eliminate the CUC and revalue the CUP; and so far (2015) there's no indication yet about when the CUC will be put out of circulation. More new to come.
Visit our website that chronicles the announcements and events related to The Cuban Thaw (the normalization of US-Cuba relations).