If Ernest Hemingway fell under the charm of Cayo Guillermo and Playa Pilar, it is certainly not by chance.
With its white-sand beaches and its luxuriant mangrove, this small island has everything of a small corner of paradise.
That said, be warned, it is not here that you will live an immersion in the Cuban culture: Cayo Guillermo is today a seaside resort which does not escape from mass tourism.
Then Cayo Guillermo is it worth to put down its bags? How to get there? What are the accommodations and activities on site? We answer all your questions!
Cayo Guillermo & Playa Pilar in a few words
In the Jardines del Rey archipelago, off the coast of the Province of Ciego de Ávila, Cayo Guillermo is a small islet of 13 km2 located at the northwest of the famous seaside resort of Cayo Coco.
Much smaller than the latter, Cayo Guillermo is also a little more confidential, although it is also very touristy.
Lined with three white sand beaches (Playa Pilar being the most beautiful), the islet is partly covered with mangrove, inhabited by pink flamingos and pelicans.
Its crystal clear waters shelter a marvelous diversity of tropical fish and shellfish.
If Cayo Guillermo seems to have everything of an enchanting and idyllic place, it is not given to everyone to put its suitcases there.
As in Varadero, Cayo Coco or Cayo Levisa, the doors of this small paradise are indeed closed to Cubans.
How to get to Cayo Guillermo
Get to Cayo Guillermo by land
A bridge, the “Puente Hemingway”, connects Cayo Guillermo to the neighboring island of Cayo Coco, which is connected to the main island of Cuba by a pedralpen, a 27 kilometers long road-dike.
It is possible to reach Cayo Guillermo by road, but unfortunately there are no bus connections between the main island and the mainland.
To reach Cayo Guillermo by road, you have two options:
- If you are not motorized, you can go to the island by cab (count about 50 CUC from Moron and about 70 from Ciego de Ávila). You will also be asked to pay a toll (2 CUC).
- If you have a car, you can reach Cayo Guillermo by yourself.
The airport of Cayo Coco is also served by daily flights from Havana.
How to Get around Cayo Guillermo
A Transtur shuttle (free entrance and exit for 5 CUC per day and per person) runs between Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo several times a day, and stops at all the hotels on both islands.
Schedules vary according to the season: do not hesitate to ask your hotel for more information.
Things to do in Cayo Guillermo & Playa Pilar?
Diving and snorkeling in Cayo Guillermo
Known for its crystal clear waters and breathtaking seabed, Cayo Guillermo is an ideal base for diving and snorkeling.
The Coco Diving Centre offers equipment rental and organizes diving excursions and courses.
Boat cruise at Cayo Guillermo
To explore the mangrove, nothing beats a boat trip.
The provider Boat Adventure offers a 2-hour cruise, four times a day.
If you feel like a captain, you can even take the controls of the motorboat!
Deep-sea fishing at Cayo Guillermo
Deep-sea fishing is a real tradition at Cayo Guillermo! Ernest Hemingway himself described the islet as the best place to fish in Cuba.
To follow in his footsteps, go to the Marina Marlin Cayo Guillermo.
On the menu: mackerel, barracuda and grouper.
Count 290 CUC for half a day (4 persons) minimum.
Kite Surfe at Cayo Guillermo
Since a few years, Cayo Guillermo is becoming THE kitesurfing spot in Cuba.
The Iberostar Daïquiri Hotel offers lessons for 250 CUC.
Count 50 CUC for the equipment rental per session.
Cayo Guillermo Dolphinarium (Delfinario)
Newly opened, the Cayo Guillermo Dolphinarium is unanimously considered the best in Cuba.
Entrance fee is 5 CUC for adults, 3 CUC for children.
The dolphinarium also offers:
- Swim with the dolphins for 30 minutes for 110 CUC per adult/60 CUC per child
- Interact with the dolphins in the water for 15 minutes for 55 CUC per adult/27 CUC per child
- Interact with the dolphins from the platform for 15 minutes for 25 CUC per adult/15 CUC per child.
As always with this kind of structure, it is difficult to be sure that the animals are well treated, but the staff seems in any case to take good care of its small boarders.
The neighboring island of Cayo Coco Connected to Cayo Guillermo by a Transtur shuttle, the neighboring island of Cayo Coco is one of the most famous resorts in Cuba.
Hotels in Cayo Guillermo
In Cayo Guillermo, all-inclusive resorts are the rule.
There are very few small hotels and their quality leaves a lot to be desired, even if you are not very careful.
We will therefore only recommend large establishments.
This beautiful beachfront resort offers all the services you would expect from a 4-star hotel on the beach: swimming pool, spa and wellness center, tennis court, tour desk, children’s playground and activities (water sports, darts, pool table, etc.).
The Iberostar Daiquiri has a buffet restaurant and three à la carte restaurants (Mexican, Italian and Cuban).
The rooms are located in very nice colonial houses with a view of the sea.
The plus: a water lily pond and a small waterfall.
The Melia Cayo Guillermo
A little more expensive than the Iberostar Daiquiri, the Melia Cayo Guillermo is a 5-star hotel also located on the beach.
The hotel offers an array of upscale facilities and services: swimming pool, water sports facility, tennis court, etc.
On site, you will find 6 bars (including a beach bar and a cigar bar) and 4 restaurants (buffet, Italian, international and grill).
A last word on Cayo Guillermo
The time when Ernest Hemingway used to go deep-sea fishing off Cayo Guillermo is long gone.
Today, the islet has been transformed into a small seaside resort: forget about authenticity here.
You will not meet Cubans (except the staff), who are forbidden to stay on the island.
Moral of the story: if you want to feel the pulse of Cuba, you are in the wrong place.
If you are looking for a small corner of the Caribbean where you can put your bags for a relaxing and idle stay, go for it!