Car, jeep, scooter, and bicycle rentals
In Cayo Santa Maria (and Cuba in general) the car rental business is mostly controlled by these two major companies:
TRANSTUR, operating under these brands: Cubacar, Havanautos and Rex
GRUPO GAVIOTA, operating under the brand: Via Transgaviota. Click to see a car rental price list (2015).
There are car rental offices in most hotels in Cayo Santa Maria, and also at the Santa Clara International Airport (Aeropuerto Abel Santamaria).
To rent a car, jeep, motorcycle, ATV or scooter you need to show your driver's license (from your home country) and your passport (a photocopy is usually sufficient). The International Driver's Permit is usually not mandatory, as long as they can read yours (i.e. written in an extended Roman-based alphabet). You may be required to put down a deposit either in cash or in the form of a credit card hold, until you return the vehicle. To rent a bicycle they usually ask only for your name, hotel, and room number.
Note that in every resort in Cayo Santa Maria, bicycles are no longer part of the all-inclusive package. Bicycle rental centers ($) are located within the commercial centers called Pueblo (aka Plaza): Plaza La Estrella, Plaza Las Dunas, and Plaza Las Terrazas.
Car or jeep:
Expect to pay around 55-60 CUC per day (75-80 CUC on major holidays) for the smallest manual transmission car, and around 45-55 CUC daily on a 3-days or more basis. Luxury cars and automatic transmission cars (harder to find) can starts at 80+ CUC per day. Insurance is mandatory and costs 15-20 CUC per day (depending on model). Cars and Jeeps are usually rented with a full tank of gasoline and you must return it full. Price for gasoline is approximately 1.20 CUC per liter for Regular, and approximately 1.40 CUC for "Gasolina Especial" (often required on rental contracts).
Many rental offices, especially the ones located in the hotels, may give you a price which includes insurance and a prepaid tank of gasoline, in this case expect to pay around 120 CUC for 1 day (60 for rental + 60 for insurance and gas), or around 240 CUC for 3 days (150 rental + 90 for insurance and gas). There is only one gas station in the "Cayos de Villa Clara", it's located in Cayo Las Brujas, across from the small domestic airport.
Typical prices are:
1 hour: 13 CUC + 2 CUC per additional hour
24 hours: 30 CUC
Helmets are provided and mandatory. Pay attention when riding on sandy or rocky roads, you may encounter large potholes, rocks, or slippery conditions.
Typical prices are:
3 hours: 3 CUC
Full day: 5 CUC
Helmets are usually not provided, and are not mandatory
Important to know:
Concerning the insurance included in the rental contract: coverage differs from the ones usually offered in North America or Europe. If you are found to be at fault in any way in an accident, the rental agencies will nullify your coverage and seek damages to cover the cost of repairs, which can be very high. Rental agencies are government-controlled and can prevent you from leaving the country unless they receive payment for the damages.
If you receive a ticket for a traffic violation, the policeman will write the fine on your rental contract and this amount will be deducted from your deposit when you return the vehicle.
If you have an accident in which a third party is injured, you may have to assume full hospital costs for the injured person, and you may be prevented from leaving the country until all legal proceedings related to the case are resolved.
Do not drive drunk!, not even a bicycle. Cuba has a zero tolerance policy and in the case of an accident, if alcohol is detected in your blood, you are likely to be presumed guilty.
There is only one gas station in the "Cayos de Villa Clara" archipelago, it's located across from the small domestic airport on Cayo Las Brujas, 15 to 20 km from the hotels in Cayo santa Maria.
Lily & Normand