Cayo Santa Maria, Gardens of the King
One of the world’s greatest tarpon fisheries
Santa Maria is one of the newer fly fishing operations in Cuba and offers outstanding tarpon fishing in some of the most beautiful surroundings in the Caribbean. Resident tarpon are present year round, ranging in size from 10 to 80lb. At the beginning of March, this area (sometimes referred to as Gardens of the King) begins to see the larger migratory tarpon which continue to be present into August. These fish can be in excess of 150lb, and are a true test of a fly angler‘s skills.
World class fly fishing
Cayo Santa Maria is part of Buenavista Bay Biosphere, a UNESCO reserve since 2000, and offers a wealth of stunning channels, mangroves and flats for the fly fisherman. Cayo Santa Maria is characterised by migratory tarpon fly fishing from March to August and 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. The 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 to August, and are found in clearly determined spots including the many canals through which great numbers of fish come and go to the open sea. There are also plenty of bay areas, perfect for fly fishing, where the water runs to around 20 feet. Tarpon are often sighted rolling in schools, with skiffs positioning themselves ahead for interception casts. The fishery exhibits wide flat areas of three to six feet in depth where tarpon are easy to spot in the crystal clear water.
Bonefish are found in the huge areas of flats and mangrove vegetation which can be fished from the boat or by wading. There are plenty of permit in deeper water, the average fish weighting between 25 to 30lb with some up to 40lb.
The Dolphin Super Skiffs with Yamaha 70HP engines, allow access to every shallow area running dry and fast transfers between fly fishing spots.
Relax in beachfront bungalows
The Iberostar resort has lush, well kept grounds and two stunning beaches. There are two sides to the resort; “Park” side which is family friendly, and the adult only “Spa” side.
Both sides have swim up bars, and they 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.
The resort is 110 km from the international airport of Abel Santa María, in Santa Clara.
“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
Cayo Santa María is a small island off Cuba’s northern coast 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.