Need a getaway from the typical Caribbean getaway? Tired of the crowded beaches, crowded pools, pushy vendors selling ‘authentic’ trinkets made in Taiwan? Still don’t want to take out a second mortgage to afford your vacation?
Sol Pelicano Resort on the tiny island of Cayo Largo might just be what you’re looking for. Sol Pelicano is an all-inclusive resort with less than 400 rooms. The resort, like all on Cayo Largo, is compact and doesn’t require a lot of walking to get from one end to the other.
Cayo Largo is a small island located off the southwest coast of Cuba. The island is part of Cuba but the atmosphere is quite different than locations on the mainland. Security isn’t as high at the airport and there is an overall relaxed atmosphere you would expect from an island that measures no more than 25 kilometres in length and barely three kilometres at its widest point.
The Island is serviced by an international airport that consists of one west to east runway. With only a handful of resorts and no permanent residents, flights are few and far between. The tiny town, the airport and all the resorts are crammed into the west end of the island, leaving the rest of the island as an uninhabited paradise.
As mentioned, the island has no permanent residents. Workers, including the staff from the resorts, are generally flown in for 21 day stints. Each evening, a group of three to four small propeller planes take off from the airport, transporting mostly Cuban workers back to their homes on the mainland.
Sol Pelicano is not even a ten minute bus ride from the airport. In fact, the end of the runway is less than a kilometre from the entrance to the resort. This is in stark contrast to other resort locations in Cuba (Guardalavaca for example) where transport from the airport to the resort can be up to an hour and a half by bus.
Sol Pelicano might only be rated at 3.5 stars but it definitely has the feel of a higher resort. Because of the size, there is only one buffet restaurant for breakfast and dinner. At lunch, there is an additional buffet at the beach restaurant. Alcoholic drinks are available 24 hours per day and there are some exceptional ‘a la carte’ restaurants to dine at.
The pool is salt water and more than adequate in size. Adjacent to the main pool, there is a shallower children’s pool that is, quite frankly, as large as the main pool at some resorts. Directly beside the pool is a snack bar serving an assortment of quick dishes all day long, as well as drinks.
The beach on the Caribbean Sea is comprised of soft, fine sand that can actually be hard to walk through at points. The beach in front of Sol Pelicano is void of rocks, whereas some of the other resorts are not so fortunate.
As for the solitude aspect, one needs only to walk down the beach for 15 to 20 minutes to find their own private beach. Subsequently, the island is quite popular with ‘naturists’, a new age name for ‘nudists’. Don’t be scared off by this fact, however. It’s not an ‘in your face’ situation and a ‘live and let live’ philosophy is predominant on the island.
If you’re heading to Cuba to immerse yourself in the Spanish language, this may not be the optimum destination. As mentioned, there are no residents on the island and therefore no ‘locals’ other than the transient resort staff. If you are looking to learn Italian or French, this is where you want to be. The resort is very popular with sun-seekers from Italy and the Italian speaking population of Canada. As for the French, you’d be hard pressed to find a resort in Cuba that is not full of vacationers from the Canadian province of Quebec.
Canjet and Air Canada are the main carriers out of Canada taking people to Cayo Largo. If flying from Toronto and you find yourself on the left side of the plane, take a look at the finger of land pointing north off mainland Cuba. Smile when you realize that that is Veradero and you won’t be staying in that crowded mess but you’re still paying the low prices that Veradero offers!