We’ve just spent two incredible weeks in Cuba. Our last trip over to the island was back in 2007 and we fell in love with the country. We always said we would be back and here we are. This time our travels would take us to the resort of Cayo Guillermo. We booked this as a package holiday through Thomas Cook. Our home for the fortnight would be the Iberostar Daiquiri, you can read our review of this hotel very soon.
For the past few years we have been doing a lot of city and mini breaks in Europe. Myself and Vicky definitely needed a relaxing beach holiday after a very busy year. We flew into Jardines del Rey airport after a nine hour flight from Manchester. We stepped off the plane and wow was it hot. The airport is very small, one room for check-in and departures. Most of the airport was destroyed back in 2017 by Hurricane Irma. They have done a fantastic job of getting it back operational and looking good in a short time.
Our Adventure Begins
Shown to our coach, our suitcases stored underneath, we took our seats. Our guide offered us a nice cold bottle of Cerveza Cristal (we were looking forward to drinking this beer again) At 5CUC for two it was hard to turn down.
The drop off to our hotel was around 40 minutes. Our views from the coach window were great, blue sea, lagoons and lots of wildlife including Vultures, Wild Boar and Pink Flamingos.
Cayo Guillermo is part of the Jardines del Rey archipelago North of the island in the Atlantic Ocean. There are a number of other ‘Cays’ here too. They are connected to mainland Cuba via a causeway about 20 miles long. Cuban citizens were never allowed on this string of Islands unless working to serve tourists or had strict permission. This ban has since been lifted and now locals can freely visit the beaches here and can even stay in the hotels.
In addition to lazing around by the pool, relaxing on the beach and generally taking it easy (its a hard life, we know) we did get up to one or two other things. All our trips were booked through our Thomas Cook representative and are priced at the CUC (Cuban Convertible Peso).
*During the time of our holiday (May / June 2019) 1CUC was worth 0.78GBP approximately.
Playa Pilar beach was only a 20 minute bus ride from our hotel. To get here there is an open top bus service that runs hotel to hotel. This service also goes to the markets and shopping areas of Cayo Coco. From our hotel this cost us 5CUC each for a return ticket. Well worth the money as it was once voted one of the worlds best beaches.
The sea here is quite possibly the bluest we have ever seen. It was shallow and so warm in parts. The beach was very clean with bright white sand. Make sure you take some bananas to feed the fish, they love them and its much better than feeding them bread. Snorkelling here is an absolute must.
You do need to pay for sun beds but the cost isn’t much. On our first trip the beds cost 2CUC each. On our second visit we opted for beds a little further up the beach. These came with a small wooden shelter and cost 10CUC for the pair and included three cocktails from the beach bar.
Catamaran, Media Luna Island
After a short drive to the harbour we boarded the catamaran. There wasn’t that many people on this excursion which made it a more pleasurable experience. We stopped at two spots for snorkelling. Most of the Northern coastline from Cayo Blancos down to Cayo Sabinal including Guillermo and Coco border the worlds second largest barrier reef. As you can imagine the water here was so clear and there was a huge number of brightly coloured tropical fish.
Vicky isn’t the strongest swimmer and therefore not one for readily getting in the sea. However, after a bit of a pep-talk and the donning of a swim vest she hastily entered the water with me. She absolutely loved it. I was so proud of her for conquering this fear. This trip also included a trip to Media Luna island where we enjoyed a shrimp, chicken and lobster lunch. It was once visited by Ernest Hemingway and said to be the inspiration behind his novel Islands In The Gulf. We were also allowed an hours free time here to explore.
Our last stop would be the shallow waters of Playa Pilar beach where we were allowed yet more free time to swim, snorkel and relax. On our final journey back to the harbour we were honoured to see wild dolphins swimming quite close to us, what an experience.
The cost of this trip was 79CUC each, including drinks.
Santa Clara and Trinidad
I don’t want to go into too much detail about this here because we have a separate blog about this two day excursion. All I will say is how awesome it was. It was very tiresome, especially the coach journey. However, it was so worth it and we definitely recommend doing this trip. If you have been to Cuba before and visited Havana then you will absolutely love these two towns. A taste of real Cuba.
Paragliding is something I have always wanted to do but never done. This time there would be no excuse, it was happening. The guys who ran this had a small beach hut just up from our hotel in which they also offered other water sport activities.
Strapped to my pilot we were pulled out to sea by a speedboat on a thin piece of rope. Seeing the crystal clear waters, tiny islands, the reef and the rest of the Jardines del Rey archipelago from above was pretty incredible. You could even see mainland Cuba in the distance. At 400 meters we were released and then slowly floated back towards the beach. I was so happy I finally got to do this and I am already looking forward to doing this again.
The price of my paragliding experience was 80CUC.
Watch the full video of this above in full HD glory !
All in all we had a really good holiday. We saw some great things and had some fantastic mini adventures. There are still one or two places we would love to visit in Cuba and I am certain that again, one day we will return.
We are currently putting together our video which will be posted over on YouTube so please keep an eye out for that. You can subscribe to our channel here.
As always please leave your comments below. If you are planning on visiting this incredible island then why not buy The Rough Guide to Cuba
Thanks for reading. We are already looking forward to our next break away in September. Ciao !