Twenty-five kilometres west along the north coast from Santa Lucía, Cayo Sabinal could not be more different – a deserted white-sand beach cay that’s so paradisiacal it’s almost eerie. The reason it’s yet to be discovered by the masses is its geographical isolation, hidden away at the end of a 7km stretch of notoriously bumpy dirt-track road, part of which forms a causeway across the bay, flanked by foaming salt marshes; there’s no public transport, and very little general traffic makes it this far.
All the beaches are on the north side, accessible by signposted turnings off the single main road, itself bordered by thick vegetation. The longest beach is pearl-white Playa Los Pinos, where the sea is a clear, calm turquoise and wild deer and horses roam through the woodland that backs onto the sand. Occasionally a group of holidaymakers arrives by boat from Santa Lucía, but otherwise it’s a top choice for a couple of days’ total tranquillity. Just 2km further west, smaller Playa Brava has similar soft white sands. Playa Bonita, another 3km west, has a lengthy stretch of coral reef perfect for snorkelling, as well as 3km of pure white sand.