The Jardines del Rey dream began on the 26 of July 1980 when the then president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, addressed the city of Ciego de Avila during the commemorations on this national holiday in Cuba.
During this visit to Ciego de Avila, Fidel Castro and a group of about 20 engineers visited the remote islands of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. The president promised that these very islands would one day become Cuba’s most sought after tourist destination. The planning began when Fidel returned to Havana and, hastily, the same group of engineers proposed several plans to build a causeway from Ciego de Avila to Cayo Coco, an initial length of about 30km.
After much discussion and amendments to the plan, the construction of the pedraplen (Spanish word for causeway) from the mainland finally commenced in 1988. The revised causeway measured 27kms (16 miles) and ended up connecting Cayo Coco to the mainland of Cuba in just 3 years. The time having been reduced, due to the use of a small key called Isla de Turiguano, as the foundation for a long stretch of road which had previously been planned to traverse over the sea. In 1992 another section of seven kilometers was built to connect Cayo Coco with Cayo Guillermo and, with it began the meteoric expansion of hotels and resorts on the Jardines del Rey Islands of Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. The man responsible for the road is called Evelio Capote Castillo, he was both the principal engineer and architect of the plan. He also oversaw every meter of its construction. A special thanks goes out to the family of Evelio Capote Castillo.
Based upon the success of the Pedraplen Causeway to Cayo Coco, on December 15th 1989 work began on a second causeway between Caibarien and Cayo Santa Maria. Considered an engineering marvel, the causeway incorporates:
- 46 Bridges over the sea
- Total length of bridges 2298 Meters (7539 feet)
- Longest single stretch of bridge 350 meters (1148 feet)
- Highest bridge 7.67 meters (25 feet)
The first hotel built in Jardines del Rey Archipelago was on Cayo Guillermo in 1992, with the opening of the Hotel Gran Caribe Club Villa Cojimar, followed by the first resort called Guitart Cayo Coco (now the Hotel Colonial), opened in 1993 on the neighboring island Cayo Coco. Since then the expansion has been incredible with (2014); 14 Hotels on Cayo Coco, 10 Hotels on Cayo Santa Maria, 4 Hotels on Cayo Guillermo, 1 Hotel each on Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas. Jardines del Rey now offers over 10,000 rooms in total.
In 2005 the Jardines del Rey International Airport opened to accommodate direct flights from around the world. Then in 2008 the ex-military airport on Cayo Las Brujas was upgraded to take larger planes and domestic flights. Despite the existence of the airports, the causeway remains a key route for supplies to the hotels and also vacationers visiting the Cuban cities on the mainland.
It’s quite feasible to incorporate a visit to the Jardines del Rey Islands into a broader tour of Cuba. The distances between main cities are shown below:
- Havana – Cayo Santa Maria 386 km (240 miles)
- Varadero – Cayo Santa Maria 292 km (181 miles)
- Havana – Cayo Coco 508 km (315 miles)
- Varadero – Cayo Coco 414 km (257 miles)
- Trinidad – Cayo Santa Maria 198 km (123 miles)
- Trinidad – Cayo Coco 247 km (153 miles)
Click to Chat with us about creating a unique vacation package to tour Cuba, including a stopover on the idyllic Jardines del Rey Islands and visits to other cities in the region.
Visiting Jardines del Rey is an amazing experience. No matter which island you choose the experience is sublime. The beaches are simply outstanding and the natural beauty simply irreproachable. To think that these islands were uninhabited 3 decades ago, to what they have become today, is a marvel in itself.
Millions of people from all around the world have visited Jardines del Rey, now it’s your turn!