Discover the « Jardines del Rey » (King's Gardens)
King's gardens in the the Sabana-Camaguey archipelago. From Punta Hicacos down to Cayo Sabinal.
Jardines del Rey is the name given to several islands or « Cayos in Spanish », located in the central north of Cuba. These islands were named by Spanish conquistadors for the king Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1513. In the 16th century, they were the refuge for corsairs and pirates.
These islands are part of a larger archipelago called Sabana-Camaguey with over 2.500 islands of 450 kilometers long. From Punta Maternillos east of Cayo Sabinal in Camagüey province (near the tourist center of Playa Santa Lucia) up to Punta Hicacos in the Matanzas province (Varadero peninsula).
Jardines del Rey is a group of islands stretching over 200 kms in the north-west sector of the archipelago Sabana-Camaguey. The following islands are part of the King's garden islands: Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Coco, Cayo Judas, Cayo Romano, Cayo Paredon Grande, Cayo Megano Grande, Cayo Eusebio, Cayo Cruz, Cayo Guajaba and Cayo Sabinal.
Note that Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Santa Maria are the main tourist destinations of the king's gardens.
Since most of the islands are located far from the coast, few people have colonized these islands, apart from the privateers and pirates who took refuge to protect against hurricanes. Ernest Hemingway was known to sail these waters aboard his yacht « Pilar » during the Second World War to watch for German submarines. Ernest Hemingway's story is fascinating and closely linked to Cuba.
Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo are the first tourist destinations in this region of Cuba, followed by Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Ensenachos. The first hotel in Cayo Santa Maria to open its doors was the Sol Cayo Santa Maria in December 2001. There are currently more than 6,000 rooms on the island of Cayo Santa Maria, the equivalent of the total rooms in Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo.
The island of Cayo Coco is connected to Cuba by a causeway « pedraplen » in the sea inaugurated on July 26th, 1988. The airport of Cayo Coco welcomed its first tourists on December 26th, 2002. Before the construction of the airport on the island of Cayo Coco, tourists arrived at the international airport of Ciego de Avila (AVI). From there, they had to take buses for an hour and half drive to the hotels of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. The same problem now happens for Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Ensenachos in the province of Villa Clara.
We are on the verge of new developments in Cuba, and the king's gardens are being targeted by the Cuban government for tourism development. They made the effort to build to causeway to expand the tourism industry. With such beautiful beaches and turquoise waters, this archipelago has a considerable tourist potential.
The advent of the future U.S. customers seems to be inevitable. We cannot blame the government to build as many hotels as they are doing now. Otherwise, there will not be enough rooms for all tour operators!
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