Food. Life. Travel

Bienvenido a Cuba: 7 Days in Cayo Coco

store front in town

                                                               Store front in the town of Moron

A few years ago I was lucky enough to go to Cayo Coco, Cuba on an all inclusive vacation with my two best friends. For seven days we relaxed in the sun and sand, and swam in crystal clear water. We traveled on May 6th with Sunwing Vacations and stayed at the Memories Caribe resort.

Landing in Cuba, I first noticed the humidity (my hair immediately frizzed like a poodle) and the lush vegetation amidst the tiny airport. We hustled through immigration and boarded a bus towards our respective resorts and spent 7 blissful days in a tropical paradise.

I had a blast in Cuba! Aside from the first night when I drank a little too much tequila with my friend. My reasoning being that tequila does not have all the added sugar like cocktails, so we would be able to sleep.

Boy was I wrong. See at the all inclusive resorts they tend to a) give you the cheapest alcohol and b) avoid using measuring cups. So what you think is 6 shots (yes I know, 6 is also way too much) might end up being like 10.

10 shots of the grossest tequila ever translates into a night of first asking my friend to do planks with me (I have no idea why) and then throwing up all over the room, convinced I was dying and begging for a doctor.

Nonethless Cayo Coco is beautiful island that you must visit (just take it easy on the alcohol). I have compiled a short travel guide to help you plan your next trip.

P.S. For the rest of the trip I did not touch a single drop of alcohol. And the mere thought of tequila makes me want to throw up! Viva la Cuba am I right?


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Brief Guide to Cayo Coco

Flight:

My trip to Cayo Coco was an all inclusive trip that I booked through Sunwing Vacations. The total cost of the package is around$1300. This included cancellation insurance (which I recommend just in case ) and a catamaran snorkelling excursion (which I booked on the flight as it is cheaper than booking at the hotel).

Our stay was from May 6th to May 13th. The flight itself was pleasant. The trip from Calgary to Cayo Coco is 6 hours in total. On the flight we recieved a glass of champagne (yay!) and a tasty breakfast wrap.

Upon landing, I was hit with a wave of heat and humidity as we walked across the tarmac towards the custom and immigration officials. Other points of interest includ some very good looking Cuban men and a flock of excited Canadians.

From the airport you take a  tour bus to your designated resort. If you want you can purchase some beer for $5 CAD on the bus to start your trip off right!

Quick Tips:

  1. When booking through Sunwing, make sure youa look at your flight timings to make sure you get 7 days worth of travel. Sometimes what ends up happening is that you land late or leave early thus loosing an entire day. I know you can’t be picky with all-inclusives but it is at least worth trying.
  2. May is a great and cheap time to travel to Cuba! The weather is hot but not too hot. It is also cheaper than trying to travel between the February – March times

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Accommodation:

We stayed at Memories Caribe Resort, which has a 4 star rating on Trip Advisor.

The resort is complied of several villa complexes spread across the site and is interspersed with different dining areas, a pool and finally access to the beach. The best part about the hotel is the beach. 

The rooms are clean and comfortable but I won’t lie the pillows are absolutely horrendous. I have heard many people say that on subsequent visits they ended up bringing their own pillows.

Depending on where your room is located you may have access to a beach view. In my opinion it isn’t that necessary. I got to look at a lovely bog / marsh and to be fair I did have the best view of the thunderstorm which was a bonus.

This might not be major for some people but it is for me –   the bathrooms are clean and the toilets function properly. If you have traveled around before you know functioning toilets are important!

Quick tip:

  1. Bring your own pillow if you want. The pillows are NOT comfortable and may ruin your chance of a good nights rest.
  2. Tip the maids in the beginning of your trip for the service they provide (i.e. room cleaning). It is a well known fact that the resort workers do not get paid a lot and the ones who work in Cayo Coco have to make a 2 hour daily commute to the resort.

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cafe con leche

Cafe con leche

Food and Drink:

This has probably been said a thousand times before but the food on the resorts are far from a culinary wonder. In the Cayos it is a bit hard to access ingredients because they have to be driven in from the main island and that obviously poses problems.

While you have the option for a la carte dining at the resort’s restaurants, many people opt to eat at the buffet. For the entirety of the trip I ate : an omelette with cafe con leche for breakfast, cheese pizza from the pizza bar by the beach for lunch and spaghetti for dinner. A far cry from traditional Cuban cuisine but sadly the buffet did not have those options!

What I noticed is that the resort really wanted to cater to a North American taste palette and lots of the guests enjoy it but I really wanted to try Cuban cuisine. Luckily on my catamaran trip and when I visited the town I got to indulge in la comida Cubana. 

As for drinks – I personally would not recommend the alcohol (for good reason LOL) but I enjoyed the coffee and water, and they did make a pretty mean mojito!

Quick Tips:

  1. Befriend the chefs! Cuban men are charming ladies, so a smile goes a long way (i.e. you get to skip the line and get your omelette first ha ha). All jokes aside, I would really recommend talking to the chefs. I had the advantage of speaking Spanish which helped but they spoke English as well. You get to learn a lot about the people and they even share recipes if you ask nicely! 🙂
  2. If you are at Memories Caribe I highly recommend you check out the pizza bar by the beach. Best. Pizza. Ever. Just avoid eating it before your flight, while wearing white pants, because you inevitably will spill pizza sauce on your pants. I am definitely not speaking from experience.

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Beach:

One word. Breathtaking!

white sand beach

                                                                                                                                                          Beach in Cayo Coco

The water is warm and crystal clear. The sea is also very calm which means you can swim without having to worry about the waves (this is great for families with small kids). If you’re lucky you can even see tiny little fish swimming at the bottom. And I totally did not scream and freak out and try and swim away from the fish.

Quick Tips:

  1. Everyone wants to drink at an all-inclusive which means the beach chairs near the bar are going to be taken pretty early on in the day. Want to grab a seat? Wake up early and claim it! Want to avoid the crowds? Walk a few hundred meters away from the beach club area. You will find a few chairs and even a nice cabana to shade you from the sun. The best part is that you have complete privacy and the entire sea to yourself (minus a few fishies!)

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Weather:

You are in the middle of the Caribbean and near the equator. Despite being May, it is still pretty hot and very humid. I handle the heat quite easily but like my fellow Canadians sometimes the heat can be too much. If you go to Cuba near the end of May till August it will get hotter. On average the temperature during May is around 27 -30 degrees Celsius.

Quick Tips:

  1. Bring more sunscreen than you think you need. Seriously. You can purchase some on the resort for $30 CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos) which is roughly $45 CAD. Not a good way to spend your money
  2. BRING BUG SPRAY! Thank the good Lord my friend brought a can of bug spray because there are a crap ton of mosquitoes that come out at night. While the resort started fumigating the area in an attempt to get rid of them, they still came out strong. We were the envy of the resort and considering charging a few dollars per spray to the other tourists 😉
  3. Bring a book or some music to listen too!

 

Souvenirs postcard

                                                                                                         Souvenirs – License plate, magnet and post card

Things to do:

Here is a separate post that goes more in depth about things to do in Cayo Coco. Overall the island is the best place to relax by the beach and sip on some water or a margarita. Because Cayo Coco is away from the main island there is not much to do in terms of activities. There are excursions you can partake in (for an extra cost) like the catamaran trip.

The resort hosted nightly entertainment segments of dancing and singing which proved to be fun!

Be sure to purchase some Cuban cigars from the gentleman who hand rolls them on the spot at the resort. He was also very kind!

Quick Tips:

  1. You can purchase souvenirs on the resort itself. They are a few pesos more expensive than in the town but if you do not plan on going into town then it doesn’t matter!
  2. Feel free to bargain with the vendors but do not be pushy with the price. Bargaining is a cultural practice but it doesn’t give you carte blanche to be cheap.

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Overall Rating:

5/5

I absolutely loved the time I spent here in Cuba. The locals are so friendly, the beach is beautiful, the weather is hot (but bearable) and the resort itself is comfortable. Cayo Coco evoked the the beautiful espitiru Cubano within me. 

The Cayos are soon expanding their urban development, making way for new resorts. In some ways that is great! In others ways it’s sad that a lot of pristine beaches will be scooped up by new resorts. I am sure a lot has changed in 2 years. However I would recommend checking out Cayo Coco for their beautiful beaches before it is too late!

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