Next week, it’s going to be an average of -40. With that, you’ve got the why for escaping the cold, but we want to give you the where.
Cayo Santa Maria – it’s a short flight, a bus ride, and an all-inclusive vacation that you can usually find for under $1,000/person. Don’t expect luxury and delicious, delicious food – but does that matter when the beach looks like that?
Getting to Cayo Santa Maria
Cayo Santa Maria, a quick seven-hour flight, located just off of the North side of the Island, in Cuba. It’s 16 km long, and connected to the island by a 48km Causeway. Keep this in mind when you’re travelling with kids. When you arrive at the Airport in Santa Clara, it’s going to be another ninety minute bus ride to reach your resort.
The airport doesn’t have much in the way of food – especially if you’ve not booked into the premium lounge. There were sandwiches available, but it was a busy time and they ran out quickly – and though beer was plentiful, it was difficult to find food for hungry kids that spent the entire last morning in Cuba running around on the beach.
The Beaches and Snorkelling
The 13km of white-sand beaches was the deciding factor in our trip choice, on our last trip to Cuba. That, and the fact that there was a fantastic reef, near enough to the shore where we could swim out and watch fish, catch Starfish with our hands and explore, without having to venture on a day trip from the resort.
Tip: Find the reef and great snorkelling area between the Sol and Melia Buenavista resorts (it’s worth the walk down the beach if you’re staying at one of the neighbouring resorts). There are patches close enough to shore, for younger kids to snorkel out and explore, with an adult. Bring the kids snorkel gear and lifejackets from home, our resort had very limited amounts of kids gear.
The beaches were the best we’ve explored, and we’ve explored a lot of beaches. The white sand was similar to the kinetic sand the kids play with at-home, and was easily shaken off from the towels (and the kids) at the end of the day. Magnificent to play in, and clear, clear, water, the beaches had us rushing out at the beginning of the day, where we stayed until we watched the sun set, and the weather began to cool – every day we spent in Cayo Santa Maria.
As there aren’t very many places to shop, bring along pool floats, life jackets for the kids (our resort didn’t have any, and sand toys). At the end of the trip, we left behind the sand toys and the pool float for the hotel staff.
There were plenty of tours and excursions to choose from, but on the third day of the trip, we were unfortunately too late to book anything. A word of advice, take the recommendation to book the tours as soon as you arrive seriously – and book any tours or excursions that you want to take, when you get there.
Each hotel in the area offered shuttles to the Pueblo, a shopping area that had a pizza restaurant (our go-to, since the food at the resort wasn’t great) and a Teppanaki restaurant. A bowling alley, and interesting book bar were also there, along with the many ‘touristy’ purchases like jewelry, souvenirs and ice cream.
Tip: make the trip to the pueblo, as the shuttles are easy to use and take under five minutes to get there, if you’re souvenir shopping. The prices in the hotel gift shops, or in stands at the hotel are three times the price.
More Cuba Adventures:
- 5+ Extras to Bring to All Inclusive Resorts in Cuba
- Exploring The Incredible Beaches of Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba with Kids