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Holidays in The Cayos

The Cayos is a collection of islets often referred to as 'fantasy island' off the north shore of the Cuban archipelago due to its renowned holiday resorts and idyllic surroundings. The main islets are Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. The region offers some astounding beauty with sandy white beaches, a natural coral reef and swamps and scrubland connecting it to the mainland.

The beaches are the main attraction of the region, unspoilt and stretching for miles. There are a number of beach games and watersports run daily by the hotel representatives so feel free to get involved. If you fancy something a bit more active there is a surprising amount to do whilst on Cayo Coco.

It boasts its own national park, El Baga. The tour lasts most of the day and costs around 25 pesos depending on the time of year. For that you will see the island's nesting flamingos, take part in a traditional smudging ceremony, visit a coconut farm and learn about the history of the island in general from your experienced tour guide. There will be the opportunity to buy handmade crafts and jewellery and make sure you have your camera fully charged as there are a lot of photo opportunities.

Offshore north of the airport is home to the second largest coral reef in the world after Australia. No trip would be complete without diving to explore the 400km long natural wonder. There are an abundance of dive shops on Cayo Guillermo. The recommended one is Green Moray International Dive Centre who will take you out to various locations and accompany you on the dives.

As you would expect with a region highly dependent on tourism there is a wealth of bars and restaurants situated along the beaches, all happy to satisfy your appetite. Most of the hotels are all inclusive and offer a variety of night entertainment but if you want to explore a little bit there are some good bars to be found.

Some particularly good ones are Bar de Playa, situated on the beachfront, Vida Loca which is a particularly good piano bar and La Veranda. There are a number of nightclubs such as Disco Chic, Disco Coco, Languana de la Leche and Villa Azul although the majority of these are located inside the hotel complexes so don't expect anything too rowdy. One thing that should be noted is that Cubans are not allowed onto the islets unless they work there so the only people you will be meeting on evenings out will be other tourists.

Getting to the Cayos is straightforward as Cayo Coco has its own international airport Jardines del Rey and since 2005 tourists have been able to fly directly there missing out the mainland change. As the region relies on tourism the public transport is very good and anywhere that is worth visiting will have a regular bus costing around 5 pesos a ride. The staff are always informative and will be more than happy to schedule your times. Renting a car isn't a option in the Cayos as the islets are barren away from the resorts so there is nowhere in particular to drive to.

For those with children The Cayos might be too secluded but to take a loved one to it is perfect.