Centrally-located Santa Clara, Cuba’s 5th-largest city, is an emerging destination for travelers from the U.S.
Recent expansion of commercial flights from the U.S. to Cuba have contributed to the city’s recent surge in tourism. JetBlue, American, Southwest, Silver, and Sun Country all fly to Santa Clara – most daily, some weekly.
While the city lacks the urban energy and stately architecture of Havana, travelers can enjoy a day or two in a smaller Cuban city that has retained more traditional Cuban life than the harried confusion many travelers tend to find in Havana.
Cayo Santa María
The Cayo Santa Maria resort area is located about 70 miles (116 km) from Santa Clara International Airport. Travelers can hire a taxi from Santa Clara to Cayo Santa Maria for $100 or less.
Santa Clara is a convenient place to fly for travelers seeking access to Cayo Santa María, an island off Cuba’s north central coast in the Jardines del Rey archipelago. The island is linked by road and bridge to the town of Caibarién on the main island.
All hotels in Cayo Santa María, currently 12 for a total of 8,739 rooms, are owned by the Cuban travel and tourism group, Gaviota. The Cayos de Villa Clara project is the construction of 10,000 rooms on the islands of Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas.
The hotels of the island are the “Melia Buenavista” (105 rooms), “Sol Cayo Santa María” (300 rooms), “Melia Cayo Santa María” 358 rooms), “Melia Las Dunas” (925 rooms), “Playa Cayo Santa María” (769 rooms), “Starfish Cayo Santa Maria” (1,308 rooms), “Royalton Cayo Santa María” (122 rooms), “Memories Paraiso Beach Resort” (666 rooms), “Grand Memories Santa Maria” (732 rooms), “Hotel Cayo Santa María” (846 rooms), “Warwick Cayo Santa Maria” (800 rooms), “Ocean Casa del Mar by H10” (800 rooms) and the “Valentin Perla Blanca” (1,020 rooms). There is also one hotel in the neighbor island Cayo Ensenachos, the Iberostar’s Ensenachos (506 rooms).