King's Gardens archipelago
Jardines del Rey is the name of a chain of small islands located off the northern coast of Cuba. This achipelago is itself part of a larger one called Sabana-Camaguey with over 2,500 small islands stretching for about 450 km (280 mi) along the Atlantic coast of Cuba’s; from Punta Maternillos in the province of Camaguey (near Playa Santa Lucia) up to Punta Hicacos (the tip of Varadero's Peninsula) in the province of Matanzas.
The «Jardines del Rey» extend for 200 km (124 mi) on the south-eastern part of the "Sabana-Camaguey" archipelago and include, among others, the following keys (from west to east): Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Frances, Cayo Ensenachos, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Coco, Cayo Romano, Cayo Paredon Grande, Cayo Anton Chico, Cayo Megano Grande, Cayo Cruz, Cayo Guajaba, Cayo Sabinal.
Click the links in the blue box for more information on each cayo.
Note that Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Las Brujas, and Cayo Ensenachos are currently the main tourist destinations of the King's Gardens. But "touristically" speaking, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas are known as the “Cayos de Villa Clara” resort, whereas Cayo Coco and Guillermo are known as the “Jardines del Rey” resort.
Other cayos are currently under development, a few all-inclusive hotels are currently under construction on Cayo Paredon Grande (aka Cayo Paredon) and on Cayo Cruz, they should probably be ready to welcome tourists by 2017-2018.
The archipelago is connected with the main island of Cuba via 3 causeways (localy called Pedraplen). There’s one in the Ciego de Avila province connecting Cayo Coco to the mainland, it was inaugurated on July 26th, 1988. Cayo Guillermo is connected to Cayo Coco via a short bridge. The "Cayos de Villa Clara" (Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Santa Maria) are connected to the mainland by a 48-km causeway inaugurated in 1999, in the province of Villa Clara. The third one connects the main island with Cayo Romano and Cayo Cruz, in the Camaguey province.
Note that Cayo Coco and Guillermo are served by the Jardines del Rey International Airport (code: CCC) located on Cayo Coco, this airport was inaugurated in December 2002. The “Cayos de Villa Clara” are served by the Abel SantaMaria Airport (aka Santa Clara International Airport, code SNU) located in the capital of the Villa Clara Province, Santa Clara.
The Jardines del Rey archipelago has a great potential for tourism; an extensive development of hotels, resorts and tourist facilities has been a main focus of the Cuban government in recent years. The region would eventually become the most important beach destination (in numbers of rooms), surpassing Varadero which is currently Cuba’s biggest beach resort. The country needs more rooms, especially now with the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba, we might see in a near future more and more Americans who may want and be able to discover and freely enjoy this tropical paradise.
Lily & Normand