Cayo Santa Maria Cuba All Inclusive resorts. Heavenly sun beds by the pool

3 Best Cayo Santa Maria Cuba All Inclusive Resorts From An Expert (2024)!

The best resort I have ever stayed at in Cuba is a small “boutique” all-inclusive resort in Cayo Santa Maria along the northern shores of Cuba. Intimate ambiance, amazing a la carte dining, stunning environment, great service, and I even had my own butler!

I traveled here from Havana and stayed for a couple of weeks exploring the islets. Cayo Santa Maria truly is an oasis where you can relax and recuperate in lush, elegant surroundings.

Enjoy the stunning beaches, pools, and hotel amenities, and maybe head out snorkeling or take a wonderful catamaran trip on the crystal-clear waters.

Affiliate disclosure: I only recommend tours, services and purchases I know and love on this website.

Resorts Santa Maria Cuba Keys

The paradisiacal Cayo Santa Maria beaches

You find nothing but hotels and all-inclusive resorts in Cayo Santa Maria Cuba, inside The Kings Garden. 

Amidst lush green nature, beaches, and palm trees, this is where you want to go if you really want a holiday entirely focused on winding down and having a peaceful vacation where everything is arranged, and you don`t have to lift a finger!   

These paradisiacal islands got their first hotel in 2001. Since then, a variety of all-inclusive resorts has been built (as there is no city center, restaurants, or services outside the resort bubble), with different guest focus.

The miles long pedraplen bridge you need to cross to reach Cayo Santa Maria
The pedraplen

Some are great for families with kids, while others are strictly adult-only, with nice restaurants, bars, delicate lounge areas by the pools, and a more tranquil atmosphere. 

I visited three resorts, all very different from each other, as part of the Cayo Santa Maria all-inclusive option (which is the only option; there is no town out here).

1. Melia Las Dunas Cayo Santa Maria Resorts All-Inclusive


The Melia Las Dunas is a large resort on the Cayo Santa Maria main island. It covers a large area and has several pools, restaurants, a spa, a gym, and, of course, a private stretch of white beach. 

Your first encounter with the Melia Las Dunas is a large, open, and airy foyer area where someone will greet you and take care of your luggage while you check-in.

You find one of the seven hotel bars in this area, as well as the buffet restaurant and a sneak peek over to the pool.

The beach outside Melia las Dunas is long, inviting, with light golden sands, sun beds, a few sun beds, and infinite blue calm waters.

The Melia Las Dunas is a great place for families traveling with children. It has a separate family area and quieter, secluded adult-only areas. 

At Las Dunas, there are around 1000 rooms and suites, so during the high season, this is a very busy and sociable place.

Also read: A Locals Guide: Travel To Cayo Santa Maria Cuba

Melia Las Dunas Amenities

Local designers came to display and sell their collection at the Las Dunas, in the large, airy foyer.
Local designers come to sell their unique creations

There are a lot of guests, activities, and entertainment going on, so if you like a bit of the hustle and bustle around you (even though there is no city center to visit), you probably will like it here. 

The accommodation options at the Melia Las Dunas range from classic rooms to royal suites, all spread around the hotel grounds in little white bungalows.

I stayed in a superior room, which is like a little studio, right by the beach a little walk (or take the cute open “hotel bus” around the pathways if you prefer) from the foyer area. 

The airy foyer at Melia Las dunas, with marble tiled floors, tall ceilings, and white details throughout.

The delicate open buffet restaurant at Melia Las Dunas has a wide variety of foods, including vegetarian options, for all meals. 

If you prefer a classic sit-down restaurant atmosphere instead, you can book a table at one of the a la carte places and have all the service at your table. Just remember to book one day in advance! 

While I was staying at the Las Dunas, the gym and spa were closed due to some Covid restrictions still in place. Although not tested, from my sneak peek, I could at least see that the gym was well-equipped with everything you need to stay fit on vacation! 

Perfect Beach Bar Life!

You also find a few beach bars at the end of all entrances to the hotel beach, only meters from your sunbed.  

There is a small office in the lobby area that helps you arrange excursions if you want to spend a day or two exploring outside the hotel. 

The Gaviota Marina is the hub for all sea activities. You can enjoy day trips with a catamaran, visit the Delfinario and check out the dolphin show, scuba diving day trips, or deep-sea fishing if that is your passion. 

All in all, I enjoyed my stay at the Las Dunas. This is a great hotel if you like a busy social atmosphere, enjoy colorful shows in the evenings, and like a larger social atmosphere on your vacation.

2. Melia Buenavista Cayo Santa Maria Resorts All-Inclusive Adults Only

Melia Buenavista hotel around sunset when the light is glowing, the blue pool is calm, and the palm stand in the breese against the blue sky dotted with small white clouds.

Arriving at the Melia Buenavista all-inclusive Cayo Santa Maria resort is like arriving at your country estate where the staff has been expecting you, a bit like old friends coming back! 

Immediately seated in the small but elegant lobby, I do a quick check-in while someone magically appears with a glass of welcoming bubbles in no time.

The whole Melia Buenavista is a The Level service hotel, and that really shows from the beginning. 

After the smooth check-in, my butler (!) took me on a tour of the hotel, which is really small and intimate for a resort. 

The pool area is just inside the lobby, a small delicate blue haven surrounded by regular and four-posted sunbeds, a pool bar, and a 24/7 open pool restaurant. 

Now, this is my kind of place, small, intimate, tranquil, and super-chill. And beautiful. 

The stunning lit hotel pool at night, the water looks clear blue, the palm trees lit from below, and the night sky is black.

Melia Buenavista Amenities

Next to it are two different a la carte restaurants, so no big buffet restaurants like larger resorts, but the quality of the food and service in both is exquisite.

With warm and inviting lighting, an intimate atmosphere, a varied menu, and super nice staff, I would be surprised if someone is not happy here!

Wooden walkway to one of the beaches at the Buenavista, with white railings, bushes on each side, down to a small private beach with rugged water on this clear summer day with a bit of wind.

After dinner, you can also pop into the lobby bar for a drink and enjoy a small concert or whatever entertainment is on for the evening. 

The Buenavista has three different small but gorgeous beaches only for you (at least that is what it feels like), so not the miles and miles of endless sands some other resorts can give you.

Then again, all have an amazing “private beach” vibe, a cozy sensation of secludedness that the larger resorts are unable to create simply due to the size. 

Champagne is served at Sunset Beach

Less than a minute away from the elegant pool area is the first beach, shielded from the Caribbean sea waves by a semi-pier, which gives it the impression of lounging by a blue lagoon. 

At the end of the hotel grounds (not very far), passing the gym and spa, you find this beach called Sunset Beach.

Melia Buenavista Is For Adults Only

My room at the Buenavista with a large king bed, colorful details, decorative towels on the made bed, and warm lighting.
My room at the Buenavista

At Sunset Beach, you can enjoy an uninterrupted view of the sun setting in the east and a “sunset cap” every night at sunset.

A guy in a tux will serve it, while someone is playing the violin or singing serenades while the sun is slowly dropping below the horizon. 

This resort is an adult-only place that has only around a hundred rooms and really is more like a large mansion than a resort. Everything is calm and quiet, even a bit homey, with a high level of luxury. 

Melia Buenavista has The Level service throughout, which, among other things, means that all guests have a designated butler.

Frankly, that is not an everyday experience for Yours Truly! So, the first afternoon, when I returned to my room, I was pleasantly surprised.

One afternoon I got back to this; a ready made bubble bath withrose petals, a bottle of wine, cheese and ham on the side of the bath tub - my butler had been there to visit.
My butler has visited

My butler had been there to arrange a flower-drizzled bathtub for me, along with a plate of cheese, ham, and a gorgeous red wine on the side! 

It was perfect, and I have to mention the outdoor shower that I also loved; every morning, I had a shower right under the blue skies.

It is built like an extension from the bathroom, where you are totally secluded and only have the palm leaves and blue sky (or starry night) above. 

If you really want a vacation in tranquility and don’t care too much for lots of people and activities, this is your place. 

I thought it was close to perfect, but then again, I really love the calm and quiet every now and then.

I extended my stay here for a couple of days just because it was the perfect getaway for me. If you ever should decide to elope to Cuba to get married or something, this is the place to do it! 

3. Royalton Cayo Santa Maria Resorts All-Inclusive

The pool area at the Royalton in the late afternoon, with fewer guests, the sun is becoming low, the water is blue in the pools, and the bushes and greenery creates an intimate atmosphere.

Royalton Cayo Santa Maria Cuba is almost like a mix of the Melia Las Dunas and the Melia Buenavista. 

It is bigger than the Buenavista, has larger grounds, more people, and activities, but still has a tranquil vibe.

Welcoming me in my room was white towels made into two swans, with a red flower in the middle, and a personal message from my cleaning lady. A really nice touch!

This is probably a bit because it is also an adult-only resort, so there are no play areas or kids running around. 

All the different rooms are in little bungalows, or you may even call them little houses, so the hotel grounds are more like a little village. 

I had an elegant two-leveled studio, a large bathroom with a shower and bathtub, and the excellent The Level service!

My suite at the Royalton, wiht a large king bed, beautiful lights, typically Cuban tiled floors, and an incredibly high ceiling outside the frame of the photo.

The amazing thing about The Level service is that it includes your butler dropping in in the afternoon when you are not there to prepare a rose bath for you and leave wine and a snack! 

I could really get used to that!  

Various dining options, even outdoors.

Royalton Cayo Santa Maria Amenities

The hotel grounds are divided into an upper and a lower area. Inside the lobby, you find the upper pool with a pool bar and the two hotel restaurants, both a la carte. 

A stone’s throw away is a pretty stretch of road built like an avenue, where you also find the spa and gym. 

On the lower level is another pool, as well as a pool bar and a beautiful open-air restaurant where you can have a drink and small or full meals.

The lower pools at sunset, with elegant sun beds, lots of greenery, palm trees, and a setting sun in the distance.

Here, a chef operates an open-air barbeque at all times, where you can choose your own fresh fish or meat and watch it all being prepared in a flash!  

Like in most resorts in Cuba, there is also entertainment at night at the Royalton Santa Maria. Although super normal, all resorts have shows. I mention it because the show here was really really good!

A large dance company had an entire show dedicated to Michael Jackson – with a remarkably identical-looking lead dancer!  

The evening show at the Royalton had a Michael Jackson lookalike, who was also a very good dancer! I caught a picture where he is posing in a typical Michael-dance-move mid-show.
The evening show; Michael arrived to dance

The Royalton Santa Maria is super for anyone who prefers elegant surroundings, adult-only hotels, and a little bit of a social life going on as well. 


Other Cayo Santa Maria Resorts All-Inclusive

In 2020, there were 17 resorts in Cayo Santa Maria, according to Wikipedia.

Possibly more than that now, as there is constant construction going on on the islands. 

Many large hotel chains have resorts here, and below is a list of some of the others that I have not been able to visit (yet).

Iberostar Selection Ensenachos

Gran Memories Santa Maria

Memories Paraiso Beach Resort

Starfish Cayo Santa Maria

Valentin Perla Blanca 

Playa Cayo Santa Maria

Angsano Cayo Santa Maria

Grand Aston Cayo Las Brujas

Check Out Tours In The Region

What Is Cayo Santa Maria?

Lounging on the net of a catamaran on a day trip from Cayo Santa Maria, you can see the clear green water of the sea under the net.
Catamaran tour from Cayo Santa Maria

Cayo Santa Maria is the largest of three interconnected little islands on the Jardines del Rey archipelago north of Cuba, along with Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas.

To put you on the map quickly, Cayo Santa Maria is situated around an hour and a half from the revolutionary city of Santa Clara. An all-inclusive resort haven where there is nothing but named all-inclusive resorts.

In Cayo Santa Maria, or Santa Maria Key, all-inclusive resorts are the only option for accommodation; there are no casa particulares or small hotels, or city center, for that matter.

The Cayo Santa Maria Keys are dedicated entirely to luxury and leisure.

They also constructed what is known as the pedraplen, a clever mix of a bridge and a road that connects the island group to the main island of Cuba while preserving nature, hence having little impact on the aquamarine life and sea.

Jardines Del Rey Archipelago

There are paradisiacal beaches like this, with white warm sands and crystal clear warm waters all arond the keys in Cayo Santa Maria under a bright blue sky.
Paradisiacal beaches

Bridges connect the palm-strewn islands, which are all part of the Jardines del Rey, or The Kings Garden, a larger archipelago that continues further to the east. 

The archipelago de Sabana-Camagüey, more commonly known as Jardines del Rey, is located in the sea north of central-eastern Cuba, around 4 hours by car east of Havana.  

For the last decades, the beautiful region of Jardin del Rey in Cuba has been able to combine a growing tourist industry with environmental conservation, resulting in vast biodiversity and virgin beaches throughout. 

Travel To Cayo Santa Maria Cuba

If you fly into Havana for your Cuba holiday, you can book the Viazul bus securely online to go from there to Santa Clara City. From Santa Clara, you take a taxi for the last stretch out to Cayo Santa Maria.

You can also take a taxi directly from Havana or wherever you travel from if you do not mind paying the bucks.

The upside is, of course, that it is fast, and you can stop and explore along the way as you wish. A private taxi will cost you a minimum of 200 euros.

Taxi Cuba and Taxi Drivers Cuba have online booking services that you can consider, where prices and distances are stated clearly.

I have never tried this, so I am not able to give a review of their services.

Flights To Cayo Santa Maria

You can also fly directly to the Abel Santamaria Airport (also called the Santa Clara Airport), which is the closest international airport serving all three islets: Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Las Brujas, and Cayo Ensenachos.

Then you get a taxi or take the bus from the airport to your Cayo Santa Maria all-inclusive resort, which is around one and a half hours!

Compare Flight Prices Here

Quick History | Spanish Influence On The Cuban Keys

In Spain is this royal couple that gave name to the Cuban coral reefs

The Jardines del Rey (and Jardines de la Reina in the south) is named after the Spanish King Ferdinand, who was king when the Spanish colonized Cuba.

He was the first de facto king of Spain in the 15th Century, or what at the time was a series of kingdoms that he slowly gathered into what is modern Spain today.

History says that Ferdinand was a major player in the successful colonization of all of the Americas in the 15th Century, which may explain getting a whole archipelago with his name on it.

King Ferdinand, apparently, was a child prodigy who, already at the age of eight, beat his father and the members of the court in chess and excelled in sports like lance throwing (which I can only assume was a necessary skill at the time). 

The beautiful region of Jardin del Rey in Cuba has been able to combine a growing tourist industry with environmental conservation for the last decades, resulting in vast biodiversity and virgin beaches throughout. 

Wrap-Up Cayo Santa Maria Resorts All-Inclusive

As you see, the Cayo Santa Maria island triplet is where you go for the ultimate luxury and relaxing Caribbean holiday.

Here, you will not want for anything when a beach & pool holiday with great service, all-inclusive “everything”, and winding down and recuperation is exactly what you need your holiday to be!

Suppose you also want to experience the culture, history, architecture, and everything else Cuba has to offer. In that case, I recommend you also read a few other articles to help you design your perfect holiday in Cuba.

Whatever you are looking for, you will find it somewhere on this island.

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