Cayo Paredon Grande (a.k.a. Cayo Paredon) is a tiny island of only 8.7 km2. The islands nearby are Cayo Romano (770 km2), Cayo Coco (370 km2) and Cayo Guillermo (13 km2). These islands are located in the King's Gardens archipelago (Jardines del Rey in Spanish). This little paradise is located north of the largest island of the archipelago, Cayo Romano, in the province of Camagüey in Cuba. Cayo Romano is not one island, but a group a many small islands gathered under the same name.
Playa Los Pinos, Playa del Norte and Playa Los Lirios are the names of the beautiful beaches of fine white sand with turquoise waters in the Atlantic Ocean. The beaches are located on the North side of the island. The south and west sector are composed of mangroves and lagoons.
Faro Paredon is the name of the lighthouse located in the north sector of the island. It also named Faro Diego Velazquez, the first to explore these islands off Cuba's north coast in 1514. At a height of 40 meters (130 feet), its construction began in 1857 and ended in 1859, the year of the inauguration is exactly 100 years before the victory of the modern Cuban revolution. This lighthouse is still in use.
We were fortunate to visit the lighthouse in spring 2014 and the local guide, William, explained to us its history and its operation. We made a YouTube video of the Faro Paredon. The view on the top floor is just beautiful. Do not forget your mosquito repellent, because they are very greedy in the trail from the parking lot to the lighthouse.
Cayo Paredon is well known for fly fishing. We dedicated a section about fishing in Cayo Paredon.
To reach Cayo Paredon, there is only one road from the neighboring island of Cayo Coco. You must first take a bridge that divides Ciego de Avila and Camaguey, then two smaller bridges to finally arrive on the island of Cayo Paredon, about 30 km away from Cayo Coco (CCC) International airport. These bridges were under renovation (2014) for the beginning of the construction of new hotels.
The tourism development in this archipelago of Cuba has been expanding for many years now. It started in the early 90's with the opening of the first hotel in Cayo Guillermo, the Villa Cojimar (now the Sercotel Club Cayo Guillermo), then the Guitart Cayo Coco (now Colonial Cayo Coco) in 1993. These islands in the King's Gardens are very beautiful with shallow water and calm seas.
The island of Cayo Coco is connected to the mainland by a causeway « pedraplen » in the sea inaugurated on July 26th, 1988. The airport of Cayo Coco welcomed its first tourists on December 26th, 2002. Before the construction of the airport on the island of Cayo Coco, travelers arrived at the international airport of Ciego de Avila (AVI). From there, they had to take the bus for an hour and half drive to the hotels of Cayo Coco and two hours for Cayo Guillermo.
Cayo Paredon is the next destination in the King's Gardens. This will be like a second Cayo Guillermo, given the proximity of the airport on the neighboring island of Cayo Coco. In fact, the transfer time by bus for the future hotels in Cayo Paredon will be shorter than for Cayo Guillermo.
We are constantly looking for new developments in Cuba. Most of our sites are destinations in the King’s Gardens. We will closely monitor the development of this little paradise.
Note that since the spring 2014, Cuban Immigration systematically stamps all passports when entering and leaving the country. And also: Since May 1st, 2015, the Cuban Departure Tax is no longer paid at destination. It should now be included in the price of your trip when buying a flight-only or vacation-package to Cuba.
In October 2013 the Cuban Government announced its intention to eliminate their dual currency system (CUC and CUP). To the best of our knowledge, it seems like no schedule has been officially announced yet for this plan to eliminate the CUC and revalue the CUP; and so far (2016) there's no indication yet about when the CUC will be put out of circulation.
Lily & Normand