Coco and Guillermo Cays are found at 80 kilometers to the North of the capital city of Ciego de Avila, and some four nautical miles from one of the world ́s most important nautical corridors “The Bahamas Old Canal”. These two jewels of the archipelago impress with their greenish-bluish colors and their coralline origin’s sands.
Cayo Coco is 370 square kilometers. It has a virgin environment of unique beauty that combines its twenty two kilometers of beaches with a great variety of fauna, among which standout the colonies of pink flamingoes. Cayo Guillermo is much smaller and has a more intimate atmosphere. It has 6 kilometers of beaches of first quality and two magnificent opportunities: approaching the highest strips of dunes in the insular Caribbean and knowing, first hand, one of the sceneries that Nobel Prize Winner Ernest Hemingway referred to with great passion.
Cayo Guillermo is in the Jardines del Rey (King’s Garden) archipelago, part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. ‘El Pedraplen’ A 48-kilometre causeway, joins Cayo Santa Maria to the mainland. Lying off the north coast of Villa Clara province, is 120 kilometres from Santa Clara, adjacent Cayo Santa Maria, is a small island 13 kilometres long.
These cayos are a charming island paradise with clean white sandy beaches, shallow clear water, stunning natural scenery and an abundance of diverse wildlife. Birders particularly like the island, spotting anhingas, seagulls, flamingoes, woodpeckers, hawks and the tocororo, the national bird of Cuba. It’s also home to numerous species of reptiles, amphibious, fish and mammals.
“Big Game Trolling” fishing tournament in the environmentally protected Jardines del Rey archipelago takes place annually in October in the crystalline waters of Cayo Guillermo. The competition will be staged at the Cayo Guillermo International Marlin Marina. Everyone is invited to participate in the annual tournament; amateur fishermen, anglers, fans of sport fishing or spectators enjoying holidays in Cuba at the time of the event are all welcome, whether they are club members or not. Foreign fishing federations that wish to learn more about Cuba’s ocean waters and its inhabiting species are also invited. The event, according to sources from Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism, seeks to develop the island’s local fishing potential while helping develop other fishing-related activities and water sports.
Divers will find an amazing variety of fish lurking in the coral formations, or go trekking on Cayo Santa Maria, Majá, Fragoso, Cobos, Las Brujas, Ensenachos, Español de Adentro, Francés and Las Picúas. And history buffs explore the ancient caves.
It is 1.5 hours drive to the City of Santa Clara - Santa Clara contains the mausoleum for the fallen of the Revolution. Included in this mausoleum is Che Guevara himself. In order to maintain the sanctity of the place, photography inside the mausoleum is strictly prohibited. Also, there are no souvenir-sellers to be found nearby. There is also a Che Guevara museum, as well as a huge square (Plaza de la Revolucion) overlooked by a large statue of Che.
5/10 minutes east of the center is the "Monumento a la Toma del Tren Blindado" - the site of one of the most important battles in Cuban history, where Che Guevara and his men ripped up the railway line, derailing an armoured train, and defeated the men inside. The site shows the actual bulldozer used, and a number of the actual train carriages in situ. Inside the carriages are exhibits, with accompanying text, in Spanish only.
Scuba Diving in Jardines del Rey
Jardines del Rey consists of several tiny islands off Cuba’s Atlantic coast, about 250 miles (450 km) from Havana. The islands include Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Paredón Grande, Cayo Romano, Cayo Guajaba, Cayo Sabinal, Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Cruz.
It is said that Diego Velazquez was who from 1513 and 1514 baptized this group of cays as Jardines del Rey (Gardens of the King), honouring Ferdinand The Catholic, King of Spain in that epoch, and as a response to Admiral Christopher Columbus who in his second trip around the island called the archipelago located in the central-southern coast of it as Jardines de la Reina. Its warm, clear water is between 16.5 and 131 feet (between 5 and 40 m) deep, you can see Parrotfish, Grunts, Yellowtail Snappers, Queen Angelfish and a great variety of underwater plants.
In Guillermo Cay there is marine current diving on the coral reef, in 4 and 30 meters deep. Few places can compete with this sea bottom, where, apart from the ordinary fauna, it is possible to observe some reef sharks, shads, pompanos, pascualas, shads, mutton snappers, black groupers and Nassau groupers To the North of Guillermo Cay, at a distance of 2 miles, extends, between El Perro and Cay- man cays, a beautiful and well-preserved coral reef which is the habitat for gorgonians, colonies of coral and sponges.
The well-preserved coral reef extends for more than 32 kilometers (20 miles) it varies in depth between 2 and 40 meters, forming some “ribbons” of coral. The sea bottom topography is diverse and irregular, in its alternate, patched with greatly developed beautiful coral little walls, crevices and tunnels. There it can also be seen crustaceans, mollusks and invertebrates, gorgonians, sponges and macro algae, among other species. However its major attraction is, inarguably, the great diversity of fishes that inhabit the zone. The coral reef, at a depth of 10-30 meters and over 10 km long, has such an abundance of fish that dives might believe they are in an aquarium. This site is practically unmatched in the world. Large shoals of tarpon, jacks, spadefish, big snappers, groupers, sharks and barracudas provide a special attraction to the diving activities.
The fishing area passes through the channels of this small key located in Caibarién, north coast of the Villa Clara Province between 1.5 until 10 meters deep. Flats boats with expert guides are available for Tarpón, Bonefish, Permit, and Snook among other species.
It is important to know that Cuba develops sport fishing only under the method of “tag and release” (catch and release) according to the international trends for the preservation of species and environment.
Marlin Marina Cayo Guillermo