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Fauna and Flora | Cayos de Villa Clara, Cuba

Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Las Brujas and Cayo Ensenachos (aka Cayos of Villa Clara), which are located off the northern coast of Cuba, are covered by a lush vegetation; this beautiful Caribbean flora includes several species of palm trees, fruit trees and coconut trees. Some parts of the cayos are also covered with lagoons and mangroves.

The fauna is also abundant with large colonies of aquatic birds (pelicanos, seagulls, cormorants, sand pipers, flamingos, etc.), lizards, iguanas, land crabs, the Jutia (a rabbit-size mammal), the beautiful Tocororro (Cuba’s national bird), a few non-poisonous snakes, etc.

About ten animal species are endemic to the region, such as the Ligus, a large land snail which is especially notable for its beautiful colored shell and its habit of climbing-up the trees, they’re also called tree snails. The marine life around the cayos is also rich and varied, making this area a good spot for fishing, diving and snorkeling.

In 2015, we had the chance to see a large colony of flamingos in a lagoon located near the Be Live Collection Cayo Santa Maria. It was the first time we saw so many flamingos in Cayo Santa Maria.

The small archipelago is part of the UNESCO recognized Buenavista Biosphere Reserve. The Cuban government is recognized to be very environmentally conscious, so during the construction of the 48-km causeway (pedraplen) linking the main island of Cuba with the Cayos (Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas), they built a bridge (opening) every kilometer to minimize the negative impact of the construction on the local marine life.

The hotels in the three cayos are all oceanfront but have been built a little back behind the dunes; the beaches are accessible via several raised footbridge for a minimum impact on the dunes' flora and fauna. The dune also serves as a natural protection against tropical storms and hurricanes, thus minimizing damages to hotels.

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Lily & Normand
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