Driving to Cayo Sabinal Cuba

Driving to Cayo Sabinal

Getting to Cayo Sabinal by road is rather simple. This guide to driving to Cayo Sabinal starts from the Carretera Central, Cuba’s main central highway axis which extends through the center of the country. The guide assumes a direction north (Havana) to south (Santiago de Cuba) Cuba. When you arrive on the outskirts of Camaguey you will be able to border the city on the beltway loop (ring road) highway. Essentially, you don’t need to enter the city center. Head towards the town of Senado, as soon as you see signs for Redention and Nuevitas take that direction. Before entering Nuevitas you’ll take a left turn towards Lugareño. On that road you’ll see the right turn towards Cayo Sabinal.

Roads to Cayos in Cuba

The road to Cayo Sabinal

The 18km road is largely unpaved with several large potholes. Its a dusty limestone covered road so, wearing high contrast sunglasses will help you to see the road better, since its extremely white (bright). You’ll normally need a car with reasonable ground clearance like the Hyundai Santa Fe or Suzuki Vitara, especially if you want to negotiate the dirt road at a reasonable speed. These vehicles are also useful to venture along the roads on the island itself. However, if you are willing to take your time and, travel quite slowly, it can be achieved even in the smallest rent a car. In a smaller car (lower ground clearance) the drive just takes longer, since you need to constantly concentrate on the road ahead.

Road Playa Santa Lucia to Nuevitas

Visiting Cayo Sabinal from Nuevitas and Playa Santa Lucia

If you are staying in Nuevitas or Puerto Tarafa, it will take you less than 40 minutes to get to Playa Pinos Beach on Cayo Sabinal. If you are staying in Playa Santa Lucia, you’ll note there are numerous tours listed on the website to visit Cayo Sabinal by sea. However, driving to Cayo Sabinal is pretty easy. On most maps Cayo Sabinal looks to be connected to Playa Santa Lucia but, in fact, it isn’t. The road is great until San Miguel Baga and Nuevitas, you will then take the aforementioned directions to get to Cayo Sabinal on the same road mentioned.

Its very easy to be alone on Cayo Sabinal when you visit by car. Once you conclude the main road to the island, there are several minor roads taking you to different areas of the coast. Its a great place to explore and there’s lots of things to see and do.

Hotels near Cayo Sabinal

Hotels Playa Santa Lucia Cayo Sabinal

Looking for Hotels near Cayo Sabinal Cuba? Below is a complete list of hotels that are within a short distance of this Jardines del Rey Island. All are all located in Playa Santa Lucia since there are no Hotels on Cayo Sabinal, these are the closest places to stay unless you prefer a Casa Particular near by.

Booking Hotels with our Travelucion program means you can check rates on all Hotels listed and compare these rates across all suppliers. Booking your Hotel near Cayo Sabinal is then simple. Choose the hotel, best rate applicable and confirm using any major credit card from any nation. Your credit WILL NOT be charged until check-in and there is no need to take the credit card used in the booking process with you to Cuba.

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Brisas Santa Lucia

Club Amigo Caracol Santa Lucia

Club Amigo Mayanabo Santa Lucia

Hotel Costa Blanca Camaguey

Hotel Gran Club Playa Santa Lucia

Hotel Cuatro Vientos Brisas Santa Lucia

Book any of these hotels in Santa Lucia now and visit Cayo Sabinal on the numerous tours and excursions listed on this website.

History of Cayo Sabinal

Cuba Cayo Sabinal Key

It seems that Pirates and Bandits knew how to choose their outposts well. Cayo Sabinal is a place of legends; the pirates who inhabited the area used its virgin coastline to spring attacks on vessels trying to make it through the Bahamas Channel. Their adventures, now stuff of legends, included looting and smuggling, resulting in the primary reason why the Spanish, in 1831, built on the eastern coast the Fort Sabinal San Hilario to curb these wayward scoundrels. San Hilario served as headquarters for the Spanish troops, packed with artillery to protect the Sabana-Camaguey cays and, all important, shipping routes from the Old World to the recently discovered Americas. The Fort on Cayo Sabinal serves as a reminder of these tumultuous times.

Cayo Sabinal is the first island in the Jardines del Rey Archipelago and, as such, the first area where vessels needed to guide themselves through the perilous shallow waters surrounding the over 2500 keys, cays and islets of the Kings Gardens on their way to Havana and beyond. As a result, in 1847, the tip of the island at Maternillos is where the Columbus Lighthouse was erected. Not only to guide ships through the narrow channel, but also as an observation point from which the Spaniards would survey the Old Bahamas Channel.

Bahamas Channel Jardines del Rey Shipping

The perils of these waters are made only too real when we consider the high number of shipwrecks in the area. The extensive coral reef has no less than 34 designated dive points to view these numerous sunken vessels.

Ernest Hemingway Cayo Sabinal Pilar

Cayo Sabinal is probably best remembered, in recent history that is, because Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize winning novelist, spent time here, supposedly searching for German U-Boat submarines during World War II but, as we suspect, spending more time fishing aboard his yacht Pilar, using this honorable excuse to pen his novel, The Great Blue River…

Excursions Cayo Sabinal Seafari Boat Trip

Cayo Sabinal Playa Bonita

The Cayo Sabinal Seafari Excursion is an all day boat tour which departs from the hotels listed below from Santa Lucia Cuba. The price is 62 USD Adults and 29 USD Children up to 12 years old.

You are collected from your hotel between 8 and 8.30am and taken to the boat moored near the Brisas Hotel in Playa Santa Lucia. On our way to Playa Bonita at Cayo Sabinal in the Jardines del Rey Archipelago we will stop for 10 minutes to view the starfish bed, where you’ll have a photo opportunity for 1000s of starfish that use this area to breed. The Playa Bonita on Cayo Sabinal is a virgin beach, totally devoid of tourism, which looks like something from a TV Ad. Right next to the beach, about 100 meters inland there’s a natural lagoon and Flamingo Sanctuary. You’ll need a telephoto or zoom lens in order to catch these majestic creatures up close. Your day will be spent discovering the uninhabited coastline, snorkeling (equipment provided) and lazing around on the sun loungers on this pristine beach. There’s a small palm hut shack on the beach with restrooms. From here you’ll be served refreshments and lunch (included). Don’t worry about taking drinks as they’re available both on the boat and the beach.

Cayo Sabinal Beach Tour

Highlights of this Cayo Sabinal Excursion?

Of course, the beach is simply stunning. Few times in your life will you have the opportunity to see a coastline as virgin and untouched as this. The Beach resort of Playa Santa Lucia can be seen in the distance, yet you feel like you’re on another planet. Snorkeling from here is sublime, the fish and marine life seem to disregard your presence entirely, and you actually feel like your one of them! Wandering down the beach can bring a few surprises, aside from the flamingo colony there are Iguanas, crabs and even dolphins close to the coast. It’s simply an “ecodream” you could say.

What NOT to forget

  • Mosquito repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat or T-Shirt (there’s little if any shade)
  • Sandals if you intend to scout the beach (pine needles mainly)
  • Camera (bring a ziplock bag)

The Cayo Sabinal Seafari from Playa Santa Lucia Hotels is a sublime experience and ideal for people of all ages.

Flamingo Tour Cayo Sabinal

Flamingos Cayo Sabinal Cuba

Cayo Sabinal’s virgin beaches are home to large colonies of Pink Flamingos. The Flamingos having chosen the South of Cayo Sabinal due to its rich fauna and ample feeding opportunities. You’ll see literally thousands of birds on the island, flocking in areas along the beaches and feeding in the undergrowth. Due to the virgin nature of Cayo Sabinal we urge visitors to apply mosquito repellant when visiting the island.

The tour begins by collecting participants at their respective hotels listed below. Collections begin at so please be at the reception of your hotel by then. The cost of the tour, sold at the below hotels (see links for details), is 40 CUC for adults and 19 CUC for children and includes lunch.

Brisas Santa Lucia

Club Amigo Caracol Santa Lucia

Club Amigo Mayanabo Santa Lucia

Hotel Costa Blanca Camaguey

Hotel Gran Club Playa Santa Lucia

Hotel Cuatro Vientos Brisas Santa Lucia

Setting off from the port of Santa Lucia Beach, our comfortable motorboat offers ample room for all 24 excursionists. As we jet across the crystal waters you’ll often be able to see flying fish and dolphins.

Dolphins Cayo Sabinal Cuba

When we arrive at Cayo Sabinal you’ll be able to snorkel for an hour from the boat or walk to shore through the warm shallow waters. Once on shore, our guide will take you to the Fort San Hilario and Faro Colon, we then progress down the coast to the Flamingo and Iguana Sanctuaries. These majestic birds are unfazed by human presence, as they strut elegantly through the waters, feeding on tiny crustaceans and marine life. Nearby you’ll experience one of only a few Dolphin sanctuaries, seeing these beautiful mammals nursing their young and playing in the sea is an almost spiritual sensation and one you will never forget.

Snorkeling Cayo Sabinal Cuba

Returning to the boat we will head out to Cayo Ballenato, a tiny island and reef just off the coast of Cayo Sabinal, from which, you´ll be able to see the island in all its glory, including the majestic Columbus Lighthouse in the distance. Once again, this tiny island is home to several families of dolphins that can be observed while you eat lunch on the beach.

We depart back to port at 4pm, arriving back in Santa Lucia by 5pm.

Advice concerning this Excursion to Cayo Sabinal

  • Apply and take mosquito repellant
  • Apply and take sunscreen
  • You do not need water or drinks as these are included
  • You do not need lunch as this is included
  • If you are taking valuables, bring a ziplock bag as you’ll be wading through shallow waters
  • You do not need snorkels or fins as these are supplied

Booking this tour is through your reception desk at the above hotels.

Faro Colon Cayo Sabinal

Faro Colon Lighthouse Cayo Sabinal

Faro Colon holds the accolade as being Cuba’s tallest lighthouse, located just 20km (12 miles) from the town of Nuevitas on the north coast of Cayo Sabinal. The Columbus lighthouse has a focal length of 53 meters (174 feet). It uses a white light which flashes every 15 seconds. Adjacent to the lighthouse is the one storey light keeper’s dwelling.

The Punta Maternillos Faro Colon serves as an observation center that can still cover the entire Bahamas channel. Over the past +160 years it has played an important role in advising Captains who use the port of Nuevitas. Visitors can access the lighthouse by road and the whole area and tower is open for tourists.

Punta Maternillos Lighthouse Cayo Sabinal

Faro Colon is still a great tourist attraction and is still active. It is admired by Cubans and is one of the oldest lighthouses in Cuba. Take your camera to snap some shots of the views and the blue sea, for as far as the eyes can see. The views of the coastline are also spectacular.

Punta de Maternillos Cayo Sabinal

Cayo Sabinal Faro Colon

Legend has it that Punta de Maternillos is a place of buried treasures and great riches. The Columbus lighthouse (Faro Colon) was built in 1847 as observation post, the lighthouse beacon a savior for sailors passing through the treacherous Bahamas Channel on their way to Havana, Florida and Mexico. Further along the coast on Cayo Sabinal is the fortress of San Hilario that served as a fortified tower and barracks for Spanish artillery and troops, Built to defend against repeated pirate attacks in the 17th and 18th centuries, the fort kept marauding corsairs at bay. The San Hilario fort later became a prison and, in 1875 was used as a base for a short lived uprising against the Spanish monarchy in Cuba.

What does Cayo Sabinal Mean?

Cayo Sabinal Colon Lighthouse

The name Cayo means Key or Cay in Spanish and is commonly used for all the islands, islets and keys in Cuba. The Jardines del Rey Archipelago, where Cayo Sabinal is located, has over 2500 keys, islets and Islands. The word Sabinal refers to the species of Juniper Sabina tree (Juniperus Sabina) that grows abundantly on the Island. The Juniperus Sabina is thought have somehow been taken to the island from Europe, either from seed cones (the cones can protect the seeds for years and also float) that floated across the Atlantic or, possibly those from a ship wreck off the coast. Juniperus Sabina is from the scale leaf species, adult leaves are mostly scale-like, similar to those of Cupressus species.

Juniper Trees Cayo Sabinal

Therefore literally translated, Cayo Sabinal would mean Island of Junipers or Juniper Island.

Of course the island is also populated by the native Cuban royal palm trees, especially along the coastline beaches of Playa Bonita, Playa Los Pinos and Playa Brava.

Cayo Sabinal by Viazul Bus Service | Prices, Offices, Phones, Timetables

Viazul Bus Cayo Sabinal

Viazul Cuba Bus Service is the perfect option to visit Cayo Sabinal. For those of you who don’t wish to Rent a Car in Cuba the Viazul bus service will take you across Cuba and to Camaguey in comfort. Once in Camaguey you can either Rent a Car to continue your trip to Cayo Sabinal or take a taxi 94 km (58 miles) to Nuevitas (cost is around 35 cuc) and then visit Cayo Sabinal from there. Buses are new air-conditioned models with onboard WC, central TV and lower suitcase compartment. Unless you intend to take the bus the moment you arrive, in most cases there is no need to book in advance as extra buses are added to routes when a particular route becomes overbooked. Simply visit the offices listed below, buy your ticket and travel either that day or any day in the future. The Viazul ticketing service is quick and efficient so usually you can collect a ticket in minutes. Departure times are clearly shown outside each station.

It’s worth noting that the Viazul bus service does not take you to Cayo Sabinal but you can get there from Camaguey as mentioned above, there are a plethora of Cuban peso and normal CUC taxis waiting at the bus stations to take you to your final destination. Viazul Bus Station:

Viazul Bus Station Camaguey – Carretera Central s/n esq. Perú – Viazul Phone +53 (032) 270395

Viazul Bus Service to Cayo Sabinal

Main Viazul routes across Cuba

  • Varadero – Trinidad
  • Baracoa – Habana
  • Habana – Baracoa
  • Trinidad – Varadero
  • Varadero – Trinidad
  • Viñales – Trinidad
  • Santiago de Cuba – Varadero
  • Santiago de Cuba – Trinidad
  • Santiago de Cuba – Habana
  • Varadero – Santiago de Cuba
  • Trinidad – Santiago de Cuba

Stopover cities at which Viazul passengers can disembark or embark

Varadero, Cárdenas, Santa Clara, Placetas, Cabaiguan, Sancti Spíritus, Ciego de Avila, Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguín, Bayamo, Santiago de Cuba, Colón

Flights to Airports near Cayo Sabinal | Cuba Domestic Flights

Flights to Jardines del Rey Cuba

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