Jardines del Rey is the name given to the Northern, middle region of
Cuba consisting of numerous islands or cayos in Spanish, from Maternillos in Camagüey province to Punta Hicacos in
Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo are at the main international tourist
destinations where most of the Cuba hotel rooms are located overlooking pristine white sand beaches.
In the 16th century, Diego Velazquez, while sailing around Cuba,
named this island chain for the King of Spain calling them the King's Gardens or Jardines del Rey in
Officially known today as the Sabana-Camaguey archipelago, the
islands are lush with green vegetation, birds and animals of all colors and tropical blue ocean waters. There is
little reason to wonder why he would come up with the term Gardens of the King.
Since most of the islands are far off the mainland, few settlers
lived in Jardines del Rey but corsairs and pirates were known to seek protection here when they needed to seek
refuge from hurricanes... or other pirates.
Ernest Hemingway was known to frequent these waters in his yacht
Pilar during World War 2 keeping watch for German submarines. Not a bad job since he could fish and drink Cuban rum
while on the lookout.
The Coastal Ecosystems Research Center (CIEC) in 1991 started to
study the area as Cuba looked to tourism to expand the revenue for the island. Climate, geology, soils,
hydrological resources, flora, fauna, marine beds and natural elements were all studied carefully before starting
development for tourism. This allowed the government to establish environmental regulations for a Master Plan of
tourist development with an ecological balance.
White sand beaches in Jardines del Rey stretch for more than 35 km
and the existence of the coral reefs with extraordinary natural beauty and great biological diversity offer a
vacation like no other in Cuba.
Loma del Puerto dunes on Cayo Coco and the dunes at Playa Pilar on
Cayo Guillermo are some of the highest dunes in the Caribbean
Cayo Media Luna and Cayo Guillermo are separated by a channel of less
than one mile wide.
Visitors will enjoy thirteen hectares of a beautiful coral reef
featuring a natural aquarium that is rich in biodiversity of species along with many wrecks of sunken
Only 15 minutes away is El Baga park, La Guira Ranch and a huge
sinkhole that is known as a Karts formation caused by a breakup of carbonated rocks. The sinkhole is 12 meters deep
and up to 50 meters wide.