From Cayo Las Brujas, the causeway passes a dolphinarium and the next significant cay, Cayo Ensenachos, where the beach is the exclusive domain of guests at the Iberostar Ensenachos. Several bridges beyond Ensenachos, about 15km from Cayo Las Brujas, the causeway concludes at Cayo Santa María, home to the remaining twelve hotels at the latest count, all of them slung along a stunning 15km beach which Fidel Castro is said to have described as superior to Varadero – though he’s never been spotted sun-bathing on either.

Among the few places open to non-hotel guests on Cayo Santa María are the two commercial “villages”: Pueblo Las Dunas in the west, in between the Meliá Cayo Santa María and the Meliá Las Dunas hotels; and the larger Pueblo La Estrella, further east, between the Royalton Cayo Santa María and the Memories Paraíso Beach Resort hotels. Unsurprisingly, they’re very artificial places, both consisting of mock-colonial buildings housing shops, bars, restaurants, discos and bowling alleys.

At the far eastern end of Cayo Santa María, the splendid Playa Perla Blanca is one of the most untouched beaches in the whole of the northern cays, though a hotel is now being built here. It’s a bit of a trek – 52km from the mainland in all – but it remains accessible to all and there are several kilometres of beach blessed with sand as fine as it gets in Cuba.

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