Cayo Coco vs Cayo Santa María: Which is the Better Choice?

cayo coco vs cayo santa maria cuba

If you are planning a trip to Cuba, two irresistible destinations will likely jump to your list: Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa María. Both possess unique charms, but which is the better to visit?

Let’s analyze some experiences shared by travelers on TripAdvisor and other internet forums.

The beauties of Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa María, located in the Jardines del Rey archipelago and in the northern cays of Villa Clara respectively, can pose a real dilemma for travelers looking for the best of Cuban beaches.

Each one offers unique beauty and exclusive experiences, making it hard to choose which one to visit.

Experiences in Cayo Santa María

cayo santa maria cuba

Cayo Santa María, famous for its white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, seems straight out of a painting.

Some travelers have mentioned their impression after visiting the place after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. They were surprised to see how the beaches were being reconstructed by extracting sand from the sea, a display of resilience and beauty amid adversity.

One user mentioned the incomparable beauty of the beaches of Cayo Santa María and Cayo Ensenachos. They noted that they only found depth at the beach near the Sol Cayo Santa María hotel, in a section where the beach curves.

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On the other hand, Cayo Santa María has also received excellent reviews from visitors. Although the beaches can become deep quickly, the hotels in this area are considered superior. 

A traveler who spent 17 nights in Cayo Santa María mentioned her love for the sea and how she enjoyed her stay on this cay after visiting several cities in Cuba.

In addition, Cayo Santa María is just five minutes from Cayo Ensenachos, which allows you to easily split your stay between both cays. This could be an ideal option if you like variety and exploring different areas.

Experiences in Cayo Coco

cayo coco cuba

Cayo Coco, on the other hand, has experienced considerable tourist development in recent years. With several new 5-star hotels, it has become an increasingly popular destination for those seeking luxury and comfort amidst spectacular natural beauty.

In addition, a trip to Cayo Coco can easily be combined with a visit to Cayo Guillermo, which offers a wider variety of experiences and destinations to explore.

Cayo Coco, according to traveler’s comments, is a destination that offers an abundance of sea and beach. In one year, a traveler recounted her experience in Cayo Coco, where she spent 11 nights at the same hotel, enjoying the beach, the sea, and excursions to other places like Cayo Guillermo.

If you are a lover of the sea and the beach, Cayo Coco seems to be the perfect choice. According to this traveler’s testimony, the beaches are impressive and the opportunity to explore other nearby cays like Cayo Guillermo adds an extra to the experience.

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FeatureCayo Santa MariaCayo Coco
Beach extensionMore extensive, can walk for kilometersNot as extensive as CSM
Sea and beachesVery good, clear water and clean sandSimilar to CSM in water quality and sand
Recommended hotelsIberostar Ensenachos, Meliá Las Dunas, Meliá Santa MaríaHotels from Meliá chain
ConnectivityWith Cayo Guillermo through passes at Meliá hotels
EnvironmentCayo Guillermo described as more rugged and with virgin beaches
HighlightsPlaya Pilar in Cayo Guillermo
Post-hurricane recoveryBeach rebuilding in 2018


The choice between Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa María really comes down to your personal preferences and what you’re looking for in your vacation. Both cays have a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty, relaxation opportunities, and high-quality accommodation.

If you value tranquility and unaltered beauty, Cayo Santa María might be your choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more accommodation options and the opportunity to explore several cays in one trip, Cayo Coco might be the ideal option.

In any case, both Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa María offer wonderful vacation experiences in Cuba. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the incredible beaches, beautiful weather, and rich culture that Cuba has to offer.

Remember that, regardless of the cay you choose, you are in Cuba, a country rich in culture, music, history, and natural beauty. Enjoy your trip!

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