|Resort island and village|
White sand beach in Cayo Coco
|Province||Ciego de Ávila|
|Elevation||4 m (13 ft)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
Cayo Coco (Coco Key) is an island in central Cuba, known for its all inclusive resorts. It lies within the Ciego de Ávila Province and is part of a chain of islands called Jardines del Rey ("the King's Gardens"). The cay is administered by the Morón municipality. It is named for the white ibis, locally called Coco (coconut) birds. It has a surface of 370 km²
Cayo Coco and its neighboring Cayo Guillermo, are the setting for Ernest Hemingway's "Islands In The Stream" and "The Old Man and the Sea".
Used as a hideout by buccaneers in the early colonial period, the island was home to a small settlement of fishermen and charcoal producers until 1955 when the freshwater supply was exhausted and the market for charcoal ended with the spread of electrification after the Cuban Revolution. A causeway was built to the Cuban mainland in 1988, beginning the era of resort construction. The first resort, Guitart Cayo Coco (now the Hotel Colonial Cayo Coco), opened in 1993. The Cuban exile group Alpha 66 machine gunned the resort in 1994 and 1995, although there were no injuries.
The causeway, or pedraplen in Spanish, linking Cayo Coco to the mainland is 27 km long and runs across Perros Bay (Bahia de Perros). It was built in 16 months and 3 million cubic meters of stone were needed to build it. The construction caused concern among environmentalists as it disturbed the tidal flow and thus life-cycle of waterlife. Despite fears, the wild flamingos still live in the shallow waters and can often be seen from the causeway although not as often as before the construction. A number of gaps were subsequently created in the causeway to restore water flow.
Still largely wild with swamps and scrubland populated by wild cattle, the islands boast about a dozen large international hotels spread out. Beaches are very good and the massive coral reef off the north coast attracts divers from around the world.
As of 2014, resorts in the area include the:
- Hotel Colonial Cayo Coco (formerly the Guitart Cayo Coco, then Blau Colonial)
- Hotel Playa Cayo Coco (formerly the Sirenis Cayo Coco)
- Hotel Villa Cayo Coco (formerly the Be Live Villa Coco)
- Iberostar Cayo Coco (formerly the Emperador section of the NH Krystal)
- Iberostar Mojito (formerly the El Senador, then the NH Krystal La Laguna Villas & Resort)
- Melia Cayo Coco (Melia group),
- Memories Caribe Beach Resort (formerly the Blue Bay Cayo Coco)
- Memories Flamenco Beach Resort
- Pestana Cayo Coco Beach Resort
- Sol Cayo Coco (Melia group), and
- Tryp Cayo Coco (Melia group)
The island has its own international airport, the Jardines del Rey Airport (Aeropuerto Jardines del Rey; airport codes (IATA: CCC, ICAO: MUCC). Since 2005 tourists can fly directly in to the airport on Cayo Coco rather than to an airport on the mainland. An earlier airport, the Cayo Coco Airport has been reclaimed as a small natural park called Parque Natural El Baga.
Prior to the construction of the Jardines del Rey Airport, tourist flights for area resorts landed at the Máximo Gómez Airport (Aeropuerto Máximo Gómez; airport codes IATA: AVI, ICAO: MUCA) near Morón.
Current accommodations in Jardines del Rey offer a total of approximately 5000 rooms spread amongst a dozen hotels. The Jardines del Rey project has development plans to eventually offer 32000 rooms.
Confirmed hotels already under construction or in the planning stages include:
- The Melia Jardines del Rey (Melia group; 1,176 rooms) - East of the Pestana Cayo Coco
- Pullman Cayo Coco (Accor group) 566 rooms) - immediately East of the Melia Cayo Coco
- Iberostar Playa Pilar (482 rooms) West area of Playa Pilar (Cayo Guillermo)
- Cuba. Department of Tourism. "Cayo Coco". Retrieved 2008-03-28.
- Sainsburg, Brendan, Cuba Lonely Planet Guide 2009, p. 327
- United Nations General Assembly Security Council, Fifty-Sixth Session, Agenda Item 166, p. 4-5
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