North of the Cuban province of Ciego de Avila is one of the fastest-growing destinations in the island's tourist sector, the King's Garden archipelago. According to legend, the exuberant nature of such islets as Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Paredón Grande led Conquistador Diego Velázquez to name that region in honor of Spanish King Fernando the Catholic.
The region's major key, Cayo Coco, is the fourth largest islet in the Cuban archipelago, covering an area of 370 square kilometers, including 22 kilometers of excellent beaches, complemented by mangrove vegetation and coconut trees. Many colonies of flamingos and other migratory birds choose the aforementioned islets to nest in winter, a condition that has been preserved while building a tourist infrastructure that respects the natural environment in the first place.
In the family of islets, Cayo Guillermo is one of the region's smallest keys, barely covering 18 square kilometers, although it is rich in plant species, including mahogany, mastic tree and savin. Its territory boasts, among its major attractions, five kilometers of beautiful beaches, one of which, El Pilar, honors the yacht of the same name that belonged to the famous U.S. novelist Ernest Hemingway. Its dunes can reach up to 16 meters in height.
Separated from mainland, a modern causeway that begins in the Bahía de Perros, or Bay of Dogs, links the two islets: Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, with possibilities of expanding to Paredón Grande in the near future. The region's tourist infrastructure has shown a dynamic growth, and the sector's main target is to build more than 20,000 rooms, in addition to a modern air terminal, ports, nautical bases, natural parks and, of course, to implement ecotourism programs.
Jardines del Rey's closeness to a 400-kilometer coral reef, considered the second largest in the world - after the one in Australia, adds a touch of class to the region's tourist offer, with a wide range of diving activities in warm and crystal-clear waters. However, the archipelago's man features are its coastal vegetation, the silence of the sea and the Sun's heat, all this combined in a perfect blend so that vacationers, whose number increases every year, can enjoy active leisure.
A former heaven for White Ibises - a bird also known as Coconut (Coco) Bird, the Jardines del Rey keys, immobile and impatient, are awaiting to incorporate their many and almost virgin attractions into the services of Cuba's leisure industry.