Paraglider flight in Cayo Coco - Cuba
Cayo Coco (Coco Key) is an island in central Cuba, well known for its luxurious all inclusive resorts. It lies within the Ciego de Ávila Province and is part of a chain of islands called Jardines del Rey ("King's Gardens"). The cay is administered by the Morón municipality. It is named for the white ibis, locally called Coco (coconut) birds. Has an area of 370 km²
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 Blau Colonial), opened in 1993. The Cuban exile group Alpha 66 machine gunned the resort in 1994 and 1995, although there were no injuries.
The causeway linking the cay to the mainland is 27 km long. 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. Resorts in the area include NH Krystal Laguna Villas & Resort (formerly El Senador), Melia Cayo Coco, Gaviota Playa Coco, Blau Colonial Cayo Coco, Tryp Cayo Coco, Sol Cayo Coco and the new Blue Bay Cayo Coco.
Cayo Coco is linked by a short causeway to Cayo Guillermo to the west and by another short causeway to Cayo Romano to the east.
The island has its own international airport, the Jardines del Rey Airport (Aeropuerto Jardines del Rey) (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.