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Cayo Largo Revisited

Jan & I went back to Cayo Largo this December 2006, and I’m sorry to say it didn’t live up to the last two perfect experiences we had there - 2001 and 2004 (see previous trip reports). A lot of our disappointment had to do with the weather; it rained several times, including the last day of our vacation. But some of it was due to the state of the resort - the Sol Pelicano - and the absence of many naturists.

Jan went to the orientation meeting Tuesday morning while I caught up on my sleep (our flight left Toronto at 5:25 a.m. Monday, which meant that we had to be up at 2:30 to be at the airport for the 3:30 check-in - and it was a late Monday night). There our group was cautioned about being overly enthusiastic natural..naturite…naturists (the tour guide from Ottawa didn’t even have the correct term). She said that we - the naturists - should be respectful and tolerant of others in the resort. Apparently, she said, the Canadians market Cayo Largo as a naturilis… know…destination, while the Italians (Bravo Club has invested in Sol Pelicano) market it as a family resort. Last year a man walked into the Ranchon (beach bar) completely nude, exchanged words with a woman tourist from Italy, and the police had to be called. Now, much as I would like everyone to be tolerant enough with nudity that walking nude into the Ranchon would be okay, I don’t think I would care to be the first.

That put a bit of a damper on the trip, casting doubts that naturism was still very much part of this resort. We explored the beach to the east of Sol Pelicano and didn’t see anyone nude until we got to the Villa Lindemar further along (some topless) and they were just lying on their chaises. We didn’t go that way again.

It always was a long - 20 minute - trek to the west of both Sol Pelicano and Sol Cayo Largo to reach the traditionally naturist area at the far west of the latter’s beach front, but this year it was made all the more difficult because of the lack of beach altogether. Apparently the island suffered a very bad storm over a few days at the end of November, which tore much of the beachfront away. We were forced to scramble over the rocks, under the overhanging beach bar, and over chaises - with people in them - to get to that area.

But once there, it was as I remembered it. Several palapas, plenty of chaises - and the glorious opportunity to walk - completely nude - all the way around Punta Mal Tiempo and on to Playa Paraiso - a good hour and a half/two hours - one way. There the beach widens out as well and there is plenty of space for everyone to lounge, sun and swim. There were several naturists, although not as many as the last time (again maybe it was the weather - it did seem the sunnier the day, the more naturists came out). At this end of the beach nudity is tolerated. The many textile couples who walked along exploring accepted we naturists with nary a glance - as it should be!

As far as the resort itself goes, Sol Pelicano, as one person mentioned, could use a facelift. Although the staff is as wonderful as always - Yanni and Anita both remembered us from two years ago - the resort itself could use a freshening. The sidewalks are cracked, the walls are fading - and the band was not as talented as the last time (a limited repertoire - how many time do I have to hear Guantanamera, and Besame Mucho?).

And this was the first time I have ever heard of a resort RUNNING OUT OF BEER!!! Jan & I made our long trek back from the beach for lunch one day, only to be told they had run out of beer. Okay, we thought, we’ll have wine, thinking it was a temporary situation. But later that afternoon at the Pool Bar (Zun Zun) the taps were tarped over, and the same that evening at the Lobby Bar. Now this was getting serious! When it hadn’t gotten any better the next day we got concerned. I don’t mind wine at all, but I’m not big on fruity tropical drinks with little umbrellas sticking out of them. I was thinking this could spell disaster for our vacation, but by the third day they had re-stocked, and all was back to normal.

Another thing that I had not noticed - or was told was being looked after - the two previous visits, was the little biting insects - no-seeums - that come out around 5 in the evening, and make sitting around the pool very uncomfortable - even the cigar wouldn’t keep them away. We’ve been back home four days, and I’m still scratching my arms and legs. If you go, take bug spray!!!

We will still go back - I mean where else can you go that has a beach like that - and for that price? - but maybe we’ll upgrade to either Sol Cayo Largo to the west (closer to the main naturist beach) or the Barcelo to the east (I have heard that the endless beach east of there has been restored following the devastation of Hurricane Michelle in 2001). Let’s hope Castro can hang on, or at least the Cuban government has some solid transition plan in place. I’d hate to see the island be taken over by the mob-style thuggish capitalism of post-communist Russia. It could spell the end of this little strip of sandy paradise called Cayo Largo.

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