It is time to leave Trinidad and head north. My destination for today is Cayo Santa Maria, which is part of a chain of small islands in front of the northern coast of Cuba.
*this article contains affiliate links. That means that I will earn a little commission as soon as you click and order anything from that site. It will help me to fund this website.
For the final part of my extended journey which started about three weeks ago in Düsseldorf, I tried to find a place where I can relax. Cayo Santa Maria seemed to be promising, with five-star hotels, white sand beaches and crystal clear and turquoise ocean. I do look forward and hope that those pictures at booking.com are not lying.
Pin for later!
However, first I have to stay alive while driving from Trinidad, in the very South, to Cayo Santa Maria in the North. This time the internet and my phone worked and were able to connect, which is not very given.
In Playa Larga a few days ago, the mobile phone could not access the internet which made it impossible to feed the roadmap with details, so that I could use it. Today, I had no issues, and I could program google maps with the address of my hotel, the Sanctuary at Grand Memories. This way I can check if I am still on the right track, while I am on my way. I also tried to figure out, which are the most significant points on that route, so that I hopefully find some street signs and know if I can follow them or if I go into the wrong direction. It worked pretty well today.
During the day it happened one time only that I thought I would have lost the way. It was when the street leads into a dirt track, worse than everything I have seen so far. And it went worst. I could drive about 20 km/h or less because the path was covered with gravel here or earth there. The chuckholes were deeper and bigger and it the path did not end. On that track, I should stay for the next 20 kilometers?!
Do not forget to get your Cuban Tourist Card before you enter Cuba!
I also could not avoid one the massive holes, and my car made a bad sound like something could have been broken. A damaged tire or auto in that area would have meant that I would not get any help for a very long time. My mobile phone could not get any connection, the Internet was not working anyway, and the last people who I saw were about an hour behind me. With no idea how many kilometers I made so far, I just hoped that everything would be fine. I swear this short part of my today´s journey was harder than the first time driving when I left Havana.
Eventually, I made it back to a, for Cuban conditions, proper road. A small town was also there, as well as another sign, in which direction I have to turn. I took a deep breath and was glad being back in “civilization.”
After about four or five hours I arrived at the entrance of the Cayos. Here they check your passport before you are allowed to enter the Cayo area. A 40-kilometer long dam connects the islands by using it as an overseas highway, similar to the ones you can find in Florida when you drive to the Keys.
Driving on this street is incredible. Right and left, the only thing you can see is water in hundreds of different shades of blue. From light blue to darker one, back to turquoise and other colors. And, you finally can drive as fast as the speed limit allows. The condition of this track has such high quality with no holes or any other issues. That is what I call a relaxed drive.
When I finally arrived at my hotel the Sanctuary at Grand Memories, I was so relieved, surprised and a little bit overwhelmed by the luxury of this one. I am not used to such kinds of hotels. I usually pay attention to a specific budget, and I am not a real fan of all-inclusive hotels. But here I wanted to not care about anything. On the other side, you usually have no real alternatives when you want to stay at the Cayos. This area is a hotel only zone. No Casa Particulares or other options.
However, the hotel itself, and mainly my room made me happy. It was so spacious and clean, with maritime alike white and blue interior, a balcony, and a minibar which is all included. And access to the WiFi in your room!!! I still need those Internet cards, but not hanging out in the lobby or the other public spaces is whole different quality. If you do not have such a “luxury” for almost two weeks, you cannot believe how much it means to have some privacy again. I was starving for getting back into the online world. Without paying attention to who is looking what I am doing or being afraid that anyone sees anything on my laptop, which is not meant for the eyes of a stranger.
Do not stress yourself out, by forgetting about your Visa. Order your Cuban Tourist Card right here!
I knew that I would use this opportunity in a very extense way. And indeed, after checking in, and settle myself in my room, I went straight back to the reception area and bought more hours of internet. (Also only 1 CUC per hours!!)
Then I went to the beach to see how it looks like. It was as promised. White sands, blue and crystal sea, and fortunately, not so many people. Back to my room, I changed my clothes to my bikini and went back to the beach. Laying there for the next two hours or so, read my book, went into the water, and started from new. I was so happy that this would be my home for the next two nights.
I was a bit sad that I did not book more nights at this hotel. If you ever go to Cuba, the Grand Memories, especially this one here on Cayo Santa Maria, I can highly recommend.
Soon it was time for dinner, so I went back to the room and took a shower. I put on some elegant clothes and headed to the restaurant. It was a la carte with a tasty shrimp cocktail and a delicious lobster-beef combination. Afterward, I could go to the theater or so to enjoy tonight’s show. But to be honest, I am too tired now and am happy to be back in my room and surf a little bit the internet, no in my newly won privacy.
Do want more stories from my site? Read how the adventure began on Day 1 – Take off in Düsseldorf, or jump to my time in New Orleans to Day 4 – Welcome to NOLA. If you are interested in Mexico, learn more about my time in Cancun, and click through Day 14 – Leaving Nola, Arriving Cancun.
Sign up for my newsletter, to get all my travel diary entries, travel tips and inspiration straight to your Inbox!
Good night! See you soon!