You know those times when you flick through holiday brochures looking at photos of stunning tropical beaches drenched in sunshine and palm trees seemingly swaying in the breeze, how often have you then compared them with photos from Trip Advisor to see how heavily photo-shopped they are? Never? Maybe it’s just me then.
Well, searching for my very first Caribbean all inclusive holiday, I spent the usual hours upon hours looking at the various islands and resorts. We wanted some culture and some relaxation time and opted for Cuba, spending some time in Havana (which we will come back to another time) and a few days holed up on an island resort on the north coast of Cuba – Cayo Ensenachos to be specific.
A fairly short and slightly bumpy flight on a very small propeller plane delivered us from the tiny Playa Baracoa Airport on the outskirts of Havana to the equally tiny (but very modern) Cayo Las Brujas airport which was only a five minute transfer to our resort.
The Iberostar Ensenachos is a large five star, all inclusive resort with two large private beaches. Centred around the main lobby building which houses a collection of bars and restaurants, the resort is separated in to three individual sections – the Spa Suites, Park Suites and the more secluded Grand Villa Suites located a distance away from the rest of the resort.
The public areas are lovely with gorgeous fountains and planting with the scent of Bougainvillea in the air.
We stayed in the Park Suites area, a collection of 14 two storey buildings with central courtyards, the buildings circling a central pool area with a bar / cafe. The rooms were large and airy, with nice decor and a regularly stocked mini bar. The pool area was fairly large, with a lagoon style pool and a bar to the end.
The main selling point for me on this destination though, were the beaches. That gorgeous beach in the brochure that looked Photoshopped.
The interesting thing about this resort, is that the accommodation and service buildings don’t sit directly on the beach. There is a barrier of mangroves which keeps the Playa Megano a secret, even after you have arrived. Access is via a wooden boardwalk winding through the mangroves.
Walking along the boardwalk you are offered a glimpse of the turquoise waters before you arrive at the beach, which has the whitest sand I have ever seen. Absolutely stunning.
As if the white sands and turquoise water were not enough, the whole time we spent at the resort the waves gently lapped onto the sand. It was also the calmest sea I had ever seen. A lot of firsts going on here.
The beach gently shelved into the sea, meaning that you could walk out for what seemed like miles without even getting up to your chest in the water. There were sections of coral reef, meaning that you wouldn’t be alone when wading through the water for long – you would soon be surrounded by curious and colourful fish. Beautiful.
By chance, I colour coordinated one day, almost blending into my natural surroundings.
The beach features sun beds and palapas, as well as a beach bar and restaurant. There’s also a gazebo if you were thinking of a beach wedding – perfect setting, right there.
If you get a little bored with this amazing beach (yeah, right), don’t worry, just take a five minute stroll from the main section of the resort, and you will arrive at Playa Ensenachos, the resorts other beach. Another stunning white sand beach, which felt almost deserted while we were there. Great for a morning stroll to work off your breakfast. This beach leads you to the Grand Villa Suites which are located at the far end. There was a rocky headland to one end of the beach which was great for exploring and finding some more colourful fish, crabs and starfish.
If you are looking for a beautiful place to relax, this is definitely a contender. The resort was large and spread out, so never seemed to be too busy. There was a wide range of restaurants, bars and entertainment, yet it also felt very low key.
If I was to make one small criticism it would be that the architecture and decor of the buildings and rooms were, whilst being stylish, very generic. The resort didn’t feel particularly Cuban. It could have been anywhere really, so I am glad that we spent some time in Havana on the trip.