New Beaches to love i fun in the water i for families i for romantics
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New beaches to love
A cayo, or a "cay/key" in English, is a low-lying island formed on coral soil. Both Cayo Cruz and Cayo Paredón are located in the beautiful Jardines del Rey archipelago, which also comprises Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Paredón and Cayo Romano and features some of the purest blue water in the Caribbean.
Jardines del Rey translates to “Garden of the Kings,” which is an apt name for an oasis of mangroves and exotic wildlife with more than 200 species of birds. The area has a slightly more isolated and natural feel compared to, say, Varadero: you’ll see flamingos and spoonbills flying overhead, and the white ibis, known as “coco,” is what gave Cayo Coco its name.
Witty, warmand welcoming
For Cuba lovers:
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Cuba has been drawing Canadians south for decades. And with good reason.
The weather here is superb year-round, and it’s an easy flight from most big Canadian cities. Plus, Cuba boasts comparably affordable all-inclusive resorts, and they cater to Canadians. Cuban culture is rich and varied, with layers of Spanish, African and more. The food is a wonderful mix of cuisines from around the globe.
But the number one reason to go to Cuba must be the beaches. Imagine pristine stretches of sand that seem to go on forever. Many beaches are free of crowds or development, so you can go for a solo stroll, while others offer the chance to dine by the water or partake of activies like snorkeling, paddleboarding or boat excursions.
So how do you choose where to go? With 35 years of experience sending Canadians on holiday, Transat knows their way around Cuba and its resorts—including those on the new areas of Cayo Cruz and Cayo Paredón, which we'll teach you all about here.
Plan your trip
The cays and resort areas are protected by a 400-kilometre coral reef barrier, which means calm waters for families, snorkelers and divers.
Separated from the mainland by a long man-made causeway, the cayos are tucked away with stunning unspoiled beaches. Here, you can relax on remote stretches of white sand with only a flock of flamingos for company and swim or snorkel through crystal-clear waters for hours.
There are only a few relatively small hotels and resorts in these newly developed areas, and the Cuban government oversaw construction to be sure they didn’t interfere with the undisturbed nature all around this stunning string of islands.
Location, location, location
Fun in the water
Sea life abounds in Cayo Paredón
Cayo Paredón is smaller than Cayo Cruz, but with so much unspoiled terrain you’ll have plenty of elbow room for a walk along the sand. If you’re looking for more of an adrenaline rush, you can hire a boat and let local fishermen show you their secret spots for snagging swordfish (or perhaps something a little smaller).
You also can dash among the beautiful waves on a jet ski or try your hand at kite surfing. There’s fine snorkelling and plenty of colourful fish to be found on the beaches of Cayo Paredón —and you’ll find a prime snorkelling spot directly in front of the Grand Aston Cayo Paredón Beach Resort.
On your Cayo Cruz vacation, take a sunrise or sunset stroll along the beach, or try a snorkelling or diving trip among the clean, turquoise-blue waters, where you’ll often see starfish or even playful dolphins.
You’re unlikely to encounter aggressive hawkers on the beaches in this area, so arrange a trip with your Transat representative once at destination or ask about a catamaran to take you to the spots that only locals know about. Motorized boats also can take guests on more extensive island tours, so you can see spots you’d like to visit on your next vacation in Jardines del Rey.
Cuba for families
The resorts also cater to families. The Grand Aston Cayo Paredón Beach Resort has a pool just for kids (and hotel’s Junior Suites are great if you have a little one in tow). There’s also a colourful playground with slides and swings. Kids will love it, assuming you can tempt them out of the water. Pelicans can often be found near the beaches of Cayo Paredón and are sure to delight the kids.
If you want to get your family out of the sun for a couple of hours, try your hotel’s kids’ club. Teenagers will be spoiled for choice too, wtih options such as tennis, gyms, volleyball, spa treatments and even dance lessons.
Kiddie paradise in Paredón
One reason parents love Cuba? The beaches in this idyllic slice of nature have fairly shallow waters—you’ll need to wade out quite far to get to deep parts, which is reassuring if you're travelling with kids. Cayo Cruz offers up an abundance of unspoiled nature for children to discover and love. Families can make memories just scanning the sea, sky and sand for wildlife, since the area is rich in creatures including sea turtles, colourful flamingos, pelicans, dolphins and starfish.
Iberostar Selection Esmeralda has both a family-friendly and an adults-only section. Kids will love the hotel’s Star Camp, where they’ll explore and discover the importance of caring for the environment while having fun at the same time. Babysitting is available if you and your special someone need some time alone.
Travellers fly into Cayo Coco and have just an easy, one-hour car transfer to the hotel, with scenic ocean views along the way.
Luxurious hotels on Cayo Cruz include the adults-only Valentín Cayo Cruz and the Iberostar Selection Esmeralda, which has both a family-friendly and an adults-only section. Cayo Cruz has 25 kilometres of beach, but you’ll find only 1,100 hotel rooms. That translates to the kind of peace and quiet it’s hard to find anywhere else and makes it the perfect destination for travellers who crave unspoiled walks on the sand.
All about Cayo Cruz
The cayos of Jardines del Rey
On the water in Cayo Cruz
Cayo Cruz for kids
Cuba for romantics
Are you excited to go to the new resorts of Cayo Cruz and Cayo Paredón? Transat is ready to help. Their Cuba microsite is a good resource to research your trip, with videos and information about travelling to Cuba as well as their latest offers on packages and flights from across Canada.
Our Travelzoo deal experts especially appreciate the at-a-glance pricing graph that indicates the lowest all-inclusive package prices for each upcoming month.
Transat was just named the World's Best Leisure Airline for the fifth time at the Skytrax World Airlines Award, plus they’re committed to being a leader in sustainability (something we love), with their Airbus A321LR having the lowest greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption around, using 15% less than other aircraft.
Book with Transat
The isolation of Cayo Cruz and Cayo Paredón is ideal for couples who want to forget about e-mails and Zoom calls and the responsibilities back home. Sunsets are glorious, and the brilliant white sand calls out for a romantic stroll on the beach.
November-April is Cuba’s dry season, making it the most popular time to go. It might be the best time for couples as well, since schools are in session during those months and families are limited to the Christmas holidays or spring break. But prices are also a little higher in dry season, so the travel-savvy also visit Cuba during the rainy season. It’s a little wetter and a lot more humid, but Cuba’s beaches are beautiful rain or shine.
Timing is everything
In Cayo Cruz, Iberostar Selection Esmeralda resort features romantic bungalows surrounded by lush tropical gardens. Try a massage in a gazebo with a thatched roof for a decadent, indulgent experience. The spa features not only massages, but foot reflexology and beauty treatments. There’s also a Jacuzzi and a sauna.
Hundreds of swaying palm trees dot the grounds and surround the swimming pools at the Grand Aston Cayo Paredón Beach Resort. The main pool has 12 Balinese beds for the ultimate in relaxation, while the other two pools have comfortable hammocks. Most couples seeking a romantic getaway want time to themselves, and on this island you won’t have a problem finding a place to snuggle on your own. You can even dine with your toes in the sand. Guests can indulge in a soothing massage or nibble on fresh lobster at a private poolside restaurant.
A true getaway
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Dreamy new islands of
Cayo Cruz & Cayo Paredón
Cayo Paredón is a small island that still packs eight kilometers of pristine white-sand beach. For now, the only hotels are the Grand Aston Cayo Paredón beach resort and the Cayo Paredón Grande, so you’ll pretty much have the island to yourself.
The resorts are located on Playa del Norte, a north-east facing beach about a kilometer long. (Other beaches to discover are Playa Los Pinos and Playa Los Lirios.) Look for lovely nature all around this unspoiled island; the Ensenada de Paredón area in the southern and western parts of the island are largely untouched mangroves forests and aqua lagoons.
Discover Cayo Paredón
Beach- and water-lovers will find no shortage of ways to enjoy a vacation in Cuba. Gently sloping beaches let you wade out (sometimes 100 metres from the shore) in calm, crystal clear waters.
In Cayo Paredón, the rewards of a quick boat ride are high: think scuba diving, for example. Deep-sea fishing and glass-bottom boating are also options for the adventurous. Check with your Transat representative once you've settled in to find out all of your options.
And the only thing better than setting out on your adventure? Returning to your all-inclusive resort for a relaxing evening of food, drinks and entertainment.
Day trips and adventures