Cayo Santa Maria, Gardens of the King, Cuba

One of the worlds greatest tarpon fisheries

Santa Maria is one of the newest fly fishing operation in Cuba. The lodge offers outstanding tarpon fishing and some of the most beautiful surroundings in the Caribbean.


World class fly fishing in the Gardens of the King

Cayo Santa Maria is part of Buenavista Bay Biosphere, a UNESCO reserve since 2000. The Gardens of the King – Cayo Santa Maria is characterised by migratory tarpon fly fishing from March to August. It is known by many to be the finest big tarpon fly fishing destination in Cuba. Nonetheless there are bonefish, barracuda, jacks and other saltwater species. Quality of fly fishing has improved as a result of new management concentrating on marine life preservation.

Tarpon are numerous in the area from March through August, which are found in very clearly determined spots. There are many canals through which great numbers of tarpon come and go to the open sea. There are many bay areas perfect for fly fishing, with deeper water to 20 feet. Often times fish are sighted rolling in schools with skiffs positioning themselves ahead for interception casts.

The fishery exhibits wide flat areas of 3 to 6 ft depth where tarpon are easy to spot due to the crystal clear water. For bonefish, there are huge areas of flats and mangrove vegetation to be fished on boat or by wading. The region abounds in permit in deeper water called floaters, some of them weighing up to 40 pounds. The average weight ranges from 25 to 30 pounds. All varieties of flats fish exist in the Gardens of the King, however, it is tarpon that make this area famous for fly fishing.

Resident tarpon are present all year long ranging in size from 10 – 80 pounds. At the beginning or March, the Gardens of the King begin to see the larger migratory tarpon and they continue to be present into August. These fish can be in excess of 150 pounds, and are a true test of a fly angler‘s skills.

There are new Dolphin Super Skiff with Yamaha 70HP engines, that allow access to every shallow area running dry and fast in transfers between fly fishing spots.

Relax in beachfront bungalows

The Iberostar resort has lush, well kept grounds and 2 stunning beaches. The staff here is some of the best we have ever had the pleasure of meeting while in the Caribbean, everyone is friendly and willing to help everytime. The Iberostar has 2 sides, one is the “Park” side which is family friendly, and the other is the “Spa” side, which is adults only.

Both sides have swim up bars, and they both share the buffet in the main building, and the a la carte restaurants on site. There is also a Grand Village section, which is completely separate. For our fishing operation, we´ll use the Spa Suites or Grand Village*, but if your thinking on travel with the family, we could also book the Park suites, that allow kids.

Location 62 km from Remedios 110 km from the international airport of Abel Santa María, in Santa Clara 177 km from Cienfuegos 198 km from Trinidad 386 from Havanahis northern area has developed an important nautical infrastructure for tourism. Anglers can stay in a 5-star hotel on the coast, which offers a customized service.

“If tarpon is what you are after then this is the place.I have fished all over Cuba, and I saw more tarpon that I could take legitimate shots at here than anywhere else.” C.S. – Sweden

Explore a stunning area

The fishing area is situated in the north coast of Villa Clara province in the west sector of Jardines del Rey. Unesco has declared this region a biosphere reserve, and this stunning area of channels, mangroves and flats has world class tarpon fishing.

Cayo Santa María is a small island off Cuba’s northern coast. It’s known for its beaches and water sports. Gaviotas Beach, in the northeast, is backed by the lush vegetation of Cayo Santa María Wildlife Refuge, which shelters a large number of birds. The central Pueblo La Estrella complex features a handicraft market, restaurants and bars. Dolphins and sea lions perform at the Acuario Delfinario Cayo Santa María.