A hidden gem just a stone’s throw away from Viñales, Cayo Levisa is the ultimate destination for a slice of paradise! Whether you’re an avid diver or a sun worshipper, the idyllic beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters of Cayo Levisa will undoubtedly captivate your heart.
💡 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. In Viñales, the Captain especially recommends 3 casas particulares/B&Bs with very good value for money (Casa Leyani y Osvedy, Villa Panchon (very affordable) & Casa Herenia y Pedro) and one casa with a small pool (Chef’s Cabins – Obel & Yoly).
📸 Activities: Horseback-riding, hiking, day trips to the beach… there’s plenty to do in Vinales. To book your activities, the Captain highly recommends Civitatis.
Cayo Levisa: A pristine island paradise
Nestled in the Los Colorados archipelago, a cluster of islands situated north of the Pinar del Río province, Cayo Levisa is a small haven of paradise. Don’t expect sprawling hotel resorts here! The island remains untouched and uninhabited, save for a modest 40-room hotel, which is the sole infrastructure on the island.
The majority of Cayo Levisa is adorned with marshes and mangroves, while a glorious 3-kilometer / 2-mile beach stretches along its northern coast. From there, you have direct access to the vibrant coral reef! With around twenty diving spots to choose from, you can embark on underwater adventures and explore the remnants of ancient shipwrecks that dot the depths of the Caribbean.
Getting to Cayo Levisa
To reach Cayo Levisa, there’s only one option: a ferry ride. The ferry service operates twice a day, departing from Palma Rubia in the Pinar del Río province, at 10 am and 6 pm. For the return journey, a ferry departs from the island daily at 9 am and 5 pm.
Getting to Cayo Levisa on your own
If you have your own car, the cost for a round trip ferry crossing, a beach chair on-site, and a sandwich at the restaurant is 15 CUC per person.
To find out how to book a car, you can refer to our guide: A Comprehensive Guide to Renting a Car in Cuba.
Excursions to Cayo Levisa
For those without their own transportation, there are excursions available from Viñales to Cayo Levisa. You can book them at the Cubanacan agency on the main street. The excursion costs 39 CUC per person and includes a bus transfer to Palma Rubia, the boat crossing, a beach chair on-site, and a sandwich for lunch (for an additional 5 CUC, you can enjoy the buffet).
👉 To ensure availability, you can also book your excursion through the Civitatis platform, a specialist in tours and tourist activities worldwide: Excursion to Cayo Levisa from Viñales
Hotel in Cayo Levisa
Cayo Levisa has escaped the large-scale tourist development that has affected certain parts of the Cuban coastline. Here, you’ll find only one hotel with 40 individual bungalows. While the rooms may have a slightly dated feel, the location is absolutely stunning.
Hotel Cayo Levisa features a bar and two restaurants, along with massage services.
Room rates vary depending on the season and room category, and include full board (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The price also covers the ferry crossing from Palma Rubia.
👉 More information on rates and availability: Hotel Cayo Levisa.
Activities & Experiences: What to do in Cayo Levisa?
Cayo Levisa is a diver’s paradise! With 23 diving spots accessible from the island, the on-site dive center organizes excursions (40 CUC including equipment and transportation).
You’ll have the opportunity to witness a stunning array of marine life, including over 120 species of neritic fish and 47 out of the 59 identified varieties of rocky corals in Cuba. Keep an eye out for rare species such as black corals, sea turtles, lobsters, mollusks, and various types of sponges that inhabit the region. Additionally, there are sunken wrecks from the 17th and 18th centuries scattered around the seabed near Cayo Levisa!
If you’re not into diving, you can still enjoy water sports by renting equipment from the island’s water sports center. Kayaks, pedal boats, and stand-up paddleboards are available for exploring the mangrove. We personally tried the kayak tour (8 CUC per hour)…
But where are the Cubans?
Once you arrive at Cayo Levisa, you’ll notice the absence of Cubans on the island. Similar to Varadero, they are prohibited from staying there. The only locals you’ll encounter are the hotel employees.
Historically, Cayo Levisa served as a departure point for Cubans seeking to escape the Castro regime and reach the United States. As a result, the local population lost access to the island. While the mass exodus has now ceased, Cayo Levisa remains off-limits to Cubans.
Cayo Levisa or Cayo Jutias?
Cayo Levisa is not the sole piece of paradise in the Pinar del Rio province! The neighboring islet of Cayo Jutias is another hidden gem in the Los Colorados Archipelago.
Cayo Jutias is a more budget-friendly option and is connected to the main island by a pedraplén, a road-dam, eliminating the need for a ferry. This accessibility is both a great advantage and a downside, as the islet tends to get crowded with tourists (both Westerners and Cubans) during the summer!
👉 To learn more: Cayo Jutias