Cayo Santa Maria
Cayo Santa Maria is a small island of 26 sq. km. (10 sq. mi) located off the northern coast of the main island of Cuba, and is part of a small group of islets called "Los Cayos de Villa Clara" located at the western end of "Jardines del Rey" (King's Gardens) archipelago. This region of Cuba is a UNESCO recognized Biosphere Reserve. Cayo Santa Maria is connected to the main island of Cuba by a 48-km (30-mi) long causeway (called pedraplen in Spanish). Its beaches are located along the northern coast of the island, while the south of the island consists mainly of mangroves and swamps.
Why Cayo Santa Maria ?
On November 4th, 2001, Cayo Largo was hit hard by Hurricane Michelle (force 4). The hotel Villa Capricho was totally destroyed, and the other hotels suffered several damages. The destination was inaccessible for many weeks, so several naturists who were regular Cayo Largo visitors like us decided to try a new tourist pole of Cuba, Cayo Santa Maria.
It was another deserted island with only one hotel, the Sol Cayo Santa Maria which had just opened. This forced migration was ultimately very beneficial and after discussion with the hotel management, a nudist area was designated at the western end of the hotel (to the left when facing sea), starting from the last footbridge. Up to now, the west side of the Sol Cayo Santa Maria beach always remained a clothing optional area.
Please note that there are no nudist hotels in Cayo Santa Maria (at least for now). Nudism is limited to the beach only!
What are my options in Cayo Santa Maria ?
Playa Cañon is a 2.8 km beach located in the west sector of Cayo Santa Maria. It is made of fine white sand that is nice for a walk, but you may need to bring water shoes or sandals to cross certain areas when water submerge the beach. The nude beach is about 1.7 km long between the Sol Cayo Santa Maria and Melia Buenavista. It is a Clothing Optional beach.
Playa Las Gaviotas is a 800 meters long beautiful virgin beach located on the eastend sector of Cayo Santa Maria, next to the hotel Valetin Perla Blanca. It is not an official clothing optional beach, but as this sector of Cayo Santa Maria has no hotels or services as it is areserve of the Buenavista Biosphere, you may find a quiet place to relax and swim naked. This is what we did few years ago when we stayed at the Valentin Perla Blanca.
Sol Cayo Santa Maria
This is the first hotel of the destination, it opened its doors in late-December 2001. This is a 4-star hotel managed by the hotel chain Melia Hotels International. There are several palapas, shelters and chairs in the clothing optional area of the beach. Since 2014, there are two sign to indicate more clearly the limits of the naturist area; one at the entrance of the footbridge (near the shower) leading to the naturist section of beach, and the other one on the first palapa where the naturist zone begins (western part of the beach).
If you prefer to experience naturism in private somewhere on the virgin beach (within the 1.5 km stretch between the two hotels), then plan to bring a sun umbrella (or any other type of shelter) because there’s no natural shade in Cayo Santa Maria, and you won’t have access to any services (like chairs, bars or restaurants).
Open since 2010, it’s a luxury adult-only 5-star hotel which is also administered by the hotel chain Melia Hotels International. Currently, there are only 2-3 palapas at the eastern end of its beach which are reserved for naturist guests. Since 2014, there is a sign to clearly identify this small clothing optional area. From there, naturists also have access to a long stretch of virgin beaches until reaching the naturist beach section of hotel Sol Cayo Santa Maria, about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) further East.
Paradisus Los Cayos
There is a discussion with the management of the hotel Paradisus Los Cayos (adult-only) to introduce a Clothing Optional sector at this hotel located on Playa Perla Blanca, next to the Valentin Perla Blanca. We will update the site as soon as we have new information about this topic. The Paradisus Los Cayos is a 5-star hotel that opened its door in December 2018.
The naturist catamaran day-trip excursion is not very really popular at Cayo Santa Maria. You need to be a group large enough to book this excursion exclusively. The marina is located in the neighbor island, Cayo Las Brujas. As soon as you arrive at Cayo Santa Maria, inform your Tour Operator representative (or local tour operator) about your group. You may also ask people on the beach to join your group.
We used to do this excursion years ago. At that time, the catamaran stopped at Playa Megano (Cayo Ensenachos) for a lobster lunch and time to relax on the beach.
The Clothing Optional areas are frequented predominantly by naturists, but also by topless women, mixed couples (nudist and textile), but also by a few people wearing bathing suits. Although the coexistence between naturists and non-naturists is usually peaceful and respectful, it’s more courteous to leave the area to naturists given the limited number of palapas and loungers, and the very limited space reserved for naturism on the entire island of Cayo Santa Maria.
It’s also important to note that nudity is not mandatory, non-naturists who want to walk along the clothing optional beach do not have to remove their clothes! It is normal to be intrigued by the presence of a nudist beach, the curious (perhaps future naturists!) are welcome, but voyeurs are not, and those taking pictures even less! Please be respectful.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any recent information (or comments) about naturism in Cuba.
IMPORTANT! Read about the Naturism Etiquette in Cuba.
Visit our website dedicated to Cayo Santa Maria, online since 2002 : http://www.cayosantamaria.info/
Lily & Normand