Ernest Hemingway didn’t fall in love with Cayo Guillermo by chance – with its stunning white sand beaches and lush mangroves, this small island is a little paradise. However, be aware that you won’t experience an authentic Cuban cultural immersion here. Cayo Guillermo has become a popular beach resort and is not immune to mass tourism.
But is Cayo Guillermo still worth a visit? How do you get there? What accommodations and activities are available on the island? Captain Ulysses will answer all your questions!
💡 Planning Your Trip to Cuba 💡
🇨🇺 Visa: Before you depart, be sure to apply for your tourist card (which is your visa for Cuba). You can easily order your tourist card online through CubaVisa.
🛏️ Accommodations: To book your accommodations in Cuba, the Captain recommends Expedia.
📸 Activities: To book your activities, the Captain highly recommends Civitatis.
Cayo Guillermo and Playa Pilar in a Nutshell
Located in the Jardines del Rey archipelago off the coast of Ciego de Ávila Province, Cayo Guillermo is a small 13 km2 island situated northwest of the famous beach resort of Cayo Coco. Although smaller than its neighbor, Cayo Guillermo is also a popular tourist destination and slightly more secluded.
The island boasts three stunning white sand beaches, with Playa Pilar being the most beautiful. Partly covered in mangroves, the island is home to flamingos and pelicans, and its crystal-clear waters offer a diverse array of tropical fish and crustaceans.
While Cayo Guillermo may seem like an enchanting and idyllic hideaway, not everyone can visit. As with Varadero, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Levisa, this little paradise is off-limits to Cubans.
Getting to Cayo Guillermo
Getting to Cayo Guillermo from the rest of Cuba
Cayo Guillermo is connected to the neighboring island of Cayo Coco by the “Puente Hemingway” bridge, which in turn is connected to the main island of Cuba by a 27-kilometer/15-mile road-dam. While it’s possible to access Cayo Guillermo by road, there are currently no bus links between the main island and the continent.
To get to Cayo Guillermo by road, you have two options:
If you’re not driving, you can take a taxi (which costs about 50 CUC from Moron and about 70 from Ciego de Ávila) and pay a toll of 2 CUC.
If you’re driving, you can make your own way to Cayo Guillermo.
Cayo Coco Airport is also served by daily flights from Havana.
International flights to Cayo Guillermo
There are regular flights (with a stopover) to Jardines del Rey International Airport, located in Cayo Coco. From there, it’s easy to take a shuttle or taxi to the neighboring island of Cayo Guillermo.
Getting around Cayo Guillermo
To get around Cayo Guillermo, you can take the Transtur shuttle that runs several times a day between Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo. The shuttle stops at all the hotels on both islands and offers unlimited rides for 5 CUC per person per day. The schedules may vary depending on the season, so it’s recommended to check with your hotel for more information.
Activities & Experiences: What to Do in Cayo Guillermo & Playa Pilar?
Diving and Snorkeling in Cayo Guillermo
With its clear waters and stunning underwater scenery, Cayo Guillermo is an ideal destination for diving and snorkeling. The Coco Diving Center rents equipment and organizes diving courses and excursions.
Boat Cruise in Cayo Guillermo
For exploring the mangroves, a boat excursion is highly recommended. Boat Adventure provider offers a 2-hour cruise four times a day, and guests can even take the helm of the motorboat!
Deep-Sea Fishing in Cayo Guillermo
Deep-sea fishing is a beloved tradition in Cayo Guillermo. Ernest Hemingway himself described the island as the best place to fish in Cuba. To experience it, head to the Marina Marlin Cayo Guillermo. The catch may include mackerel, barracuda, and grouper, with a minimum cost of 290 CUC for a half-day (4 people).
Kitesurfing in Cayo Guillermo
In recent years, Cayo Guillermo has become the go-to kitesurfing destination in Cuba. The Iberostar Daïquiri Hotel offers French courses for 250 CUC, with equipment rental costing 50 CUC per session.
Cayo Guillermo Delphinarium (Delfinario)
The newly opened Cayo Guillermo Delphinarium is considered the best in Cuba. Admission is 5 CUC for adults and 3 CUC for children, and the delphinarium also offers swimming with dolphins and interaction programs. While animal welfare concerns are often raised, the staff appears to be taking good care of their guests.
The neighboring island of Cayo Coco
Connected to Cayo Guillermo by a Transtur shuttle, Cayo Coco is another popular beach resort in Cuba.
👉 More info: Cayo Coco
Hotels in Cayo Guillermo
In Cayo Guillermo, all-inclusive resorts are the norm. There are very few small hotels and their quality leaves a lot to be desired, even if you’re not very demanding. Therefore, Captain Ulysses only recommends large establishments.
This beautiful beachfront resort offers all the amenities you would expect from a 4-star beach hotel, including a pool, spa and wellness center, tennis court, tour desk, children’s play area, and a wide range of activities like water sports, darts, billiards, etc. The Iberostar Daiquiri has a buffet restaurant and three à la carte restaurants (Mexican, Italian, and Cuban). The rooms are located in pretty colonial-style houses with a sea view. Plus, there’s a water lily pond and a small waterfall.
Melia Cayo Guillermo
Slightly more expensive than the Iberostar Daiquiri, the Melia Cayo Guillermo is a 5-star hotel located on the beach. The hotel offers a range of high-end facilities and services like a pool, water sports equipment, and a tennis court. On-site, you will find 6 bars (including a beach bar and a cigar bar) and 4 restaurants (buffet, Italian, international, and grill).
A final word on Cayo Guillermo
The days when Ernest Hemingway fished for big game off the coast of Cayo Guillermo are long gone. Today, the islet has been transformed into a small beach resort: forget about authenticity here. You will not even come across any Cubans (except for the staff), as they are prohibited from staying on the island. In short, if you want to experience the real Cuba, this is not the place for you. But if you’re looking for a Caribbean getaway to relax and unwind, then go for it!