Cayo Coco is an island archipelago (Jardines del Rey) located north of Cuba in the province of Ciego de Avila. The Cayos are known for their beautiful white sand beaches and warm weather.
Furthermore there are no actual towns in Cayo Coco or the rest of the archipelago for that matter. In fact the area is solely home to hotels and resorts. The closest town is the town of Moron (Moh-Run) which is about an hour to an hour and half ride along the causeway (which connects the Cayos with the rest of Cuba).
Cayo Coco is undoubtedly an amazing place to soak up the sun and enjoy a leisurely swim in the sea. However if you’re the type of traveler who likes to indulge in a few activities while on vacation, I have complied a list of things to do while you vacation in Cayo Coco.
We purchased our snorkeling excursion while on the flight to Cuba because it was cheaper than purchasing it at the resort. I had never been snorkeling before in my life but I figured when in Cuba and had a #YOLO moment. I assumed when you arrived at the excursion there would be a quick introduction to the activity and they would go over how to snorkel.
A large group of us were bused to the port and were split into small groups for the catamaran. Our group comprised of girls from Quebec who were surprised every time they were splashed with water (I don’t think it occurred to them that we were on a small boat in the middle of the sea), a group of boys who immediately started drinking before the boat left the harbour, a couple who were clearly working through trust issues and finally our lovely captains (one of whom proposed to me at the end of the trip).
We anchored off at our first stop and were handed our snorkeling gear. And that was that. There was no introduction, we were expected to just jump right in. After a quick crash course from my friend, two massive gulps of sea water and the constant readjusting of my bathing suit (the waves really wanted to my lady bits to be free), I managed to get the hang of it. I mean despite the fact that the majority of my snorkeling mates and the fish probably managed to get a clear view of me wrestling with my bathing suit, I would say that overall it was an amazing trip!
After snorkeling were treated to a delicious meal of lobster, shrimp and rice. Here’s a pro tip, abandon all care and eat with your hands. Nothing was funnier than seeing every one struggle to use a fork and knife to pick at the lobster flesh, cautiously balancing their plates on their thighs while sailing through choppy water. Also remember to go for seconds! The food is delicious, you flatter the chef / captain and you also guarantee yourself a proposal at the end of the trip.
By far the best thing about the trip was the our day trip. In ordered to facilitate this, I went to the front desk and asked the concierge if there was a taxi we could take to the town so that we could explore the place. Our concierge was nice enough to recommend a friend of his who we could hire for the day to take us into town.
Jorge was a warm natured bear of a man who picked us up early in the morning and provided great commentary all through our drive to Moron. He was actually the one who mentioned we stop by the crocodile sanctuary since it was on the way to the town centre. When I happened to spot a sugar cane farm along the road, Jorge was kind enough to pull over, reach underneath his chair and grab a long machete, then proceed to chop some stalks of sugar cane for me. It was delicious!
Our guide for the town was actually a friend of Jorge’s (you’ll notice a theme) who happened to be an ex-champion boxer who was partially deaf in one ear but full of energetic spirit. Michael took us all over the town, helped me bargain for some souvenirs and also took us to another friend of his who sold souvenirs from his home.
Moron is charming town to take a stroll in. There are an array of stores and food vendors, a small municipal museum and an old abandoned hotel where Castro apparently stayed at once! Do not forget to check out the train station that serves as the gateway for the people to travel from town to town. The streets of Moron are also filled with colourful colonial style buildings and architecture!
We ended our trip at the quaint little restaurant of Jorge’s friend that was nestled on the quieter streets of Moron, up a flight of winding metal stairs (a perilous journey in wedges). We were treated to an authentic Cuban meal consisting of shrimp in a tomato sauce, fried plantains, lobster, fried fish, plain rice and a delicious coconut curry. The Caribbean flavours were tantalizing and honestly beat the monotony of spaghetti and pizza back at the resort. I also had the most delicious cup of Cuban coffee which has now sparked my desire to find a place here in Calgary that can replicate the same taste (so if you know of somewhere please let me know!).
I would use the term sanctuary with a pinch of salt as it is nothing like what we are used to in the West. In fact it was more like a small petting zoo with a rag tag group of 3 massive crocodiles, a baby anaconda, water buffalo and a small baby falcon that guarded the tips of his handler. The employees were laid back men seeking refuge from the sweltering heat in the cabana, sipping on beer (with Jorge) while watching sports. Meanwhile us clueless tourists were free to roam around the small sanctuary where we got to hold and pet baby crocodiles and feed fish (with a fishing rod) to the hungry crocs below. Nothing is more surreal than hearing the rumbling throaty roar and audible viscous snap of a crocodile’s jaw. They are some powerful creatures.I also got to hold a baby anaconda which was awesome! Overall the entire experience was delightful if not slightly sketchy. But delightful nonetheless!
I mentioned in my previous post that if you did not want to venture off the resort you could still purchase souvenirs from local town vendors who set up shop within the resort.
However if you go off the resort, there is a massive and diverse collection of items to buy including beautiful paintings and handmade items. Souvenirs included magnets, post cards, tunics, purses, jewelry and adorable vintage license plates among others.
I did purchase a few items from the town square vendors but Michael (our guide) took us to a friend of his in the neighbourhood – an old man who sold small hand carved wooden figurines from out of his house. The old man was quiet and sincere. I purchased a set of wooden figurines and old ford car that reminds me of Cuba and that kind man every time I look at it.
Go find a vendor who can chop the top of the coconut off with a machete and give it to you. Nothing satisfies your thirst better than the sweet taste of coconut water. Plus it is high in potassium and full of electrolytes so you will be hydrated for sure!
We ended up following the friends of Michael down an isolated alleyway assuming the worst – but as polite Canadians we didn’t say anything – only to find that the friends climbed up a tree to shake down some coconuts to give to us to drink.
You are in Cuba after all and Cayo Coco has some of the best beaches in all of Cuba. Take advantage of the white sand, sunshine and warm water. You can even walk along the beach (you know for those of us who like wine and long walks on the beach 😉 )
Just remember to wear lots of sunscreen!
If none of these options appeal to you, here are a few more things you can do in Cayo Coco:
Spectacular Sugar Rail
Sugar, Cigar & Rum
Havana by Plane
Havana by Bus
Dos Ciudades (2 Cities)
Discover Cuba Overnight
The prices vary and excursions are also available through your resort or on your flight (if you book with Sunwing).
I hope this guide is helpful and inspires you to explore more if your vacation is primarily resort based! Cayo Coco is truly beautiful. I recommend that you check the town out if you ever visit.