Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba
Cayo Santa Maria, which is 13 kilometers long and 2 kilometers wide, boasts 11 kilometers of excellent beaches and is linked to the big island by a causeway on the sea. For those visiting the area, Ensenachos boasts one of the best beaches.
A 48-km-long road on the sea connects the largest island of the Cuban archipelago with Santa Maria, Las Brujas, Ensenachos among other keys. There is an air terminal on Cayo Las Brujas to receive small- and medium-size planes.
The islet, which was designated a "Biosphere Reserve" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is inhabited by a wide range of animals, including ten endemic species.
Cayo Santa Maria is also home to large colonies of flamingos, seagulls and anhingas, as well as iguanas, mollusks and the so-called shrike bird. Other birds living on the key are the tocororo (Cuban trogon), which is Cuba's national bird, as well as woodpeckers and hawks.
Animal diversity is complemented with the region's exuberant flora, made up of 248 species, including 91 medicinal, 72 timber, 41 resign-producing and 40 ornamental species.
The key holds remnants of pre-Columbian cultures in caverns near the beaches, which boast beautiful underwater seascapes.
Another singularity of the region is the San Pascual boat, which ran aground near Cayo Frances almost 70 years ago, and has become a naval rarity, since it was made of reinforced concrete in San Francisco, California, in 1920. Also known by the local people as El Ponton, many consider the ship another islet. It offers vacationers the amenities of its 10 cabins and an enviable location to enjoy the region's attractions.
Nature itself has created the conditions for leisure, including a coral reef that attenuates the force of winds and waves, thus creating a unique environment to welcome thousands of vacationers who visit the region every year.
Mapa de Cayo Santa Maria
Strategically located in the center of Cuba, Villa Clara has always been the nucleus for colonizers and revolutionaries fighting for material goods. Pirates were a problem for the first years of Colonialism in the first city of the island, Remedios, later abandoned due to a great fire. Its population increased again with the arrival of Canary people who brought agricultural knowledge for tobacco plantations with them. Ernesto Che Guevara was neither born nor did he die here, but this is where the Cuban Revolution took place. This happened in 1958, when Che, and a group of supporters derailed an armored train carrying more than 350 armed soldiers from the east, saving Santa Clara from the Batista dictatorship.
This place has many reasons to be such an attraction, for its mixture of somber tobacco plantations and calming lakes. The city of Santa Clara is one of the most visited places in the country, filled with key historic places regarding the Cuban Revolution and housing a vibrant nightlife. In the south of city you’ll find the quiet Embalse Hanabanilla Reservoir, in the Escambray hills.
The calm Remedios is the oldest place in Villa Clara and is only lively during the wild Las Parrandas Festival. Further north we will find Caibarién, a picturesque fishing city with a very hospitable population where the fresh breeze of the sea is breathed through the city all throughout year. Moreover, we can take delight in an endless amount of small and idyllic islands with fine sands and crystalline waters, the Cayerías del Norte (Northern Archipelago), connected to Caibarién by a long road above the sea.
Villa Clara is one of the provinces of Cuba. It is located in the central region of the island bordering with the Atlantic at north, Matanzas Province by west, Sancti Spiritus Province by east, and Cienfuegos Province on the South. Villa Clara shares with Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus on the south the Escambray Mountain Range. Its main cities are Santa Clara (the capital), Remedios, Sagua La Grande, Camajuani, Caibarién, Ranchuelo, Placetas, and Manicaragua. The northern coast of Villa Clara is dotted with numerous cays (part of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago), and there are many coral reefs, sandy beaches, and newly constructed touristic resorts.
The Cays are a capricious cluster of some 500 islands, strewn along a sea of varying shades of blues and greens off the northern coast of the central province of Villa Clara and close to the second largest coral barrier reef in the world. It's a tropical paradise with more than 17 km of fine-white sand beaches.
Villa Clara Cays, covering more than 77 844 hectares, are a veritable wildlife refuge and provide a habitat for some 248 species of plants. The most precious jewels are Cayo Las Brujas, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Santa Maria, renowned for their immaculate landscape of incredible beauty, with sugary-white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, fringed by autochthonous vegetation and connected to Caibarien, a small fishing town on the Cuban mainland, by a 48 km causeway stretching over the sea -accorded an international prize for its harmonious combination of nature and engineering in an area declared a World Biosphere Reserve- thus enabling visitors to access the cays directly from Santa Clara City, site of the international airport. The causeway has a total of 46 bridges especially designed to allow the flow of sea water, therefore protecting both the biodiversity and sustainability of the area.There are smaller airfields near most of the main towns, plus a small international terminal in Cayo Las Brujas for the operation of small and medium size charter aircraft.
Villa Clara Cays, located approximately 300 km from Havana, are part of the Jardines del Rey archipelago, the largest archipelago surrounding Cuba which extends 465 km along the northern coast of the country.
A site of legends, it is said that this island, maze of singular biodiversity, was once a haven for pirates and buccaneers ready to pounce on ship passing along Cuba's shores.
Cayo Las Brujas takes its name from an old legend about a young couple whose love was thwarted by a jealous uncle, who in turn is the namesake of another islet: Cayo Borracho, which means drunkard. The remains of the San Pascual, a ship that ran aground many years ago, can be observed a mile away from the cay. Built in San Francisco, California and launched in 1919, the ship evokes the presence of American writer Ernest Hemingway in the area. From its deck, Cuban painter Leopold Romañach found inspiration for some of his famous marine landscapes.
Cayo Ensenachos is the smallest of the three cays but it's a refuge for 22 endemic plants and 39 wildlife species. Shaped like a horseshoe, the islet was originally an aboriginal settlement. The beach is always calm due to the position of the cay which prevents the large waves from hitting the shore with force.
Cay Santa Maria is also known as the White Rose of Jardines del Rey. The cay was named after the flagship of Christopher Columbus's fleet on his maiden voyage to the New World. Legend has it that this strip of land-some 13 km long and 2 km in width- is haunted by the spirit of Rosa Maria Coraje, a woman who hid aboard a ship in a desperate attempt to find both paradise and her beloved. She landed on the cay and managed to survive hiding in the marshes, among the mangroves and feeding on fish, until she finally discovered her dearly-loved in a neighboring cay.Around Santa Clara, the land rises into the Alturas de Santa Clara. The highest point in the Santa Clara region is in the Alturas, at 464 m (1,522 ft) above sea level, while the south, dominated by the Escambray Mountains, reach elevations of over 900 m (3,000 ft). Villa Clara also has numerous lakes, which are used for both water sports and fishing. The largest Cuban river to drain into the Atlantic, Río Sagua la Grande, is also in Villa Clara province.
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