The Refreshed And Rejuvenated Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba


Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Says thank You Irma

Hurrican Irma may have hit Cuba and devastated parts of the Island nation such as Cayo Coco yet other popular tourist destinations in the country came through relatively unscathed. I recently stayed at the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria and while Cayo Santa Maria was affected by the hurricane the damage was much less here than at its neighbouring Cayo. All the Dhawa Hotel needed was a little TLC and a fresh landscaping plan. It was great time to do a few upgrades that have long been planned and once again there is a silver lining in the hurricane clouds. Welcome to the refreshed and rejuvenated Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria.

View from the pool towards the ocean at the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Cuba


Cayo Santa Maria has a variety of all-inclusive resorts to choose from. I’ve chosen to stay at the Dhawa as it is the first hotel of the brand to open in the Americas. A mid-range price point with four-star service and amenities. Perfect for a relaxing week away from the stress of daily life.

Lobby of the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria

The property design is very open with plenty of spaces to gather with friends and family or to sneak away by yourself. The pictured lobby above is a taste of what you can expect.

After a quick and painless check in at the registration desk, I have been booked into bungalow #9 which has ocean and lagoon views depending on your room placement. While it isn’t a long walk to the bungalow I certainly appreciate a ride in a golf cart with my luggage by the front desk staff.

Layout of the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria

Here is a tour of my room including a view out towards the ocean. The WiFi is strong and the air conditioning is on point so I won’t have any problems posting pictures of the view or sleeping at night.

Panorama ocean view from my room at teh Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria


You don’t go on vacation to spend all day in your hotel room, and I don’t either. If you plan on spending your days at the resort and not experiencing any day excursions there is plenty to keep you occupied. All you have to do is check with the activity staff located near the pool for a full list of on-site activities available.

List of Dhawa activities for kids and families

  • Beach: ½ a mile of crystal clear Caribbean waters and fine white sand
  • Two adult swimming pools and two kids’ pools
  • Sun loungers and parasols by the pool and beach with towel service
  • Fitness centre, two tennis courts and a basketball court
  • Entertainment with traditional folklore programs and live artistic performances
  • Kids Activity Program: Games Room and Kids Club
  • Beach and Pool Activities
  • Aqua-aerobics, dance class, beach volleyball, kayaking, and hobby cat sailing
  • Table games (Overseen by professional staff)

During my visit, I spend a bit more time in the pool than at the beach as it is getting a refresh and an expansion. I expect by the time you visit the beach will have doubled in size.

View overlooking the pool and bungalows at the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria


Of course, you expect to eat well during your stay Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria and I guarantee you won’t leave hungry. As with many all-inclusive, resorts there is a buffet restaurant that serves up a little of this and a little of that for all three main meals. I appreciate the egg grill during breakfast where I can order my eggs cooked the way I like them. Will it be fried or an omelette today?

Breakfast station at the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria

More breakfast at the Dha\awa buffet

If you tire of the buffet make sure to book a reservation at one of the three a la carte dining restaurants. You have a choice between Italian, French, and a Cuban focused menu that specializes in seafood and steaks. During my stay, I sampled both the Italian and French restaurants and was very pleased.

Beef Carpaccio served at the Dhawa

There is a 24-hour snack bar to handle any midnight cravings you may have and the lobby has a bar and lounge for pre and post-dinner drinks. I spent a bit of time here I won’t lie.

Activities Off The Resort

If you are looking to enjoy and experience Cuba beyond the property lines of the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria there is plenty for you to choose from.

One of the activities I enjoyed was speed boating through the Mangroves and into a bit of open water. We were to have finished the excursion with a snorkelling adventure but we got caught in a tropical downpour which made the snorkelling not possible. All in all a really fun morning though. Especially if you love speed. These boats are unsinkable so you don’t need to be an expert. If I can do it so can you.

Ready to go speed boating in Cayo Santa Maria

One thing I haven’t shared with you is how amazingly friendly all the staff is at the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria. I was on the hunt for a local rum which they had run out of. I gave up the search but they didn’t. While I was sitting down for dinner guess what I was presented with? The rum I had been searching for. Now when I sip the Santiago de Cuba 11-year-old rum all my memories are of my stay at the Dhawa.

I hope your stay is as enjoyable as mine was.

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Disclosure: General

Thanks to the Cuban Ministry of Tourism for inviting me and sponsoring this trip to Cuba to witness the post-hurricane rebuilding. All views and opinions are 100% my own

About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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