Winter can be long, cold and harsh in Canada so every year we to defrost our bodies by heading south for a family vacation in the sun. One of our favourite vacations was when we visited Santa Clara, Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. We stayed at the Iberostar Ensenachos Resort, which is a great kid friendly resort in Cuba.
What You'll Find in This Post
Santa Clara, Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba
Cayo Santa Maria is a small island on the north shores of Cuba by Cayo Coco island. The airport that you would fly into is in Santa Clara and then take a shuttle service to the resorts on the islands. We have been to Varadero and Havan in Cuba before but had never been to Cayo Santa Maria, which can be a little different than those areas.
Our decision to focus our attention on Cuba was based on a few things but the one overwhelming reason was the white sand beaches and we wanted to be at one of the family resorts in Cuba. The beaches in Cuba are so wonderful that it seems a bit unreal and almost magical. The pure white sand and clear turquoise water are truly amazing!
Iberostar Ensenachos Resort in Santa Clara
We had a hard time remembering the resort name… but to us and kids it was called “The Nachos” resort :) We chose the Iberostar Ensencachos Resort in the area for the options that it had for kids and it proved to be one of the best places for kids activities.
The resort is located directly on the beach with just a short walk to get to the water from your rooms. This resort is one hotel on one island concept located on Cayo Ensenachos island specifically so it is very private.
The beaches in the area are why we came to Cayo Santa Maria and they did not disappoint us. Not sure I can describe the beaches with the respect they deserve. But, the sand was like powdery soft silky icing sugar. It was like walking around getting a foot massage. Ah, wonderful.
The kids loved to play in it and excellent for building sandcastles and burying family members. This sand got in every kid crack possible, but well worth the scrubbing for the weeks after :)
Off the beach, there was also a shipwreck (you can see it in the above photo) that you could easily swim/walk to and explore. We packed our snorkel gear, but they did have some there you could rent, and it was one of the best parts of our day for sure.
Our kids were a bit too young, but our nephew who was 7 years was old enough to go out and explore. Many kinds of fish to discover in their natural habitat and the kid’s favourite was the starfish! There was also snorkelling right off the beach too!
We also went out on a catamaran for a short little ride, the kids couldn’t stop talking about it that evening at supper. It was the highlight of the day. This was right off the resort beach so really convenient if all the family can’t go. Lots of water sports for the entire family to enjoy at the beach!
Of all the beaches we have seen in the world on our 1 year trip around the world, this still is a beach that we compare all others too!
They have 5 pools in total and the kid’s pools were amazing.! They have a great area with a play structure in the sand, a small waddling swimming pool, a water play structure and kid’s activities at the beach.
Each morning the kid knew exactly what time the water was turned on at the water play structure. We spent many hours playing in this pool, and only dragging them out to re-apply the sunscreen.
Another nice touch was that every afternoon the kids club would come around the pool areas and hand out ice cream to the kids, I think it was about 2:30 ish.
The Kids Club (Age 4-12) had daily games and activities for them to get involved in and meet other kids. Our kids went a few times and had a good time, Luca even won a game and was so excited about his prize!
I think that if my kids would not have had their cousins there with them, they would have been more interested in playing with the other kids, but they had them to play with.
The kids clubs and baby club were very clean and very friendly staff helping out. Also, it was nice because it was right beside the play structure and kids pool with a kiddie size bathroom… so we used it many times :)
Food & Meals
The resort and package we had were all-inclusive. They had a very large buffet area for the morning, lunch and evening meals in the main lobby area. A very good selection of food and a lot of different options that worked well for kids and adults.
Regardless of where you are from in the world, I think you could find something you would be able to enjoy. The coffee was AMAZING, yum…. or it might have just been the sleepless nights with kids that I needed it so badly :)
They had different themes for the evening buffet suppers, so when you get there check into those and then arrange your a-la-carts around them if you can. We wanted to make sure we attended the Seafood evening at the buffet and it was wonderful. The a-la-cart we liked best was the Seafood and Italian, both very welcoming with kids.
During the day the resort has Snack Bars, we ate mostly at the one on the beach. You must try their BBQ chicken, crazy amazing! They served hamburgers, fruit and fries which were our kid’s favourites. The hamburgers, I think partially pork, so tasted a little different from a North American burger, but excellent. They also had snacks like salsa and chips, fruit, etc that were readily available.
Getting Around on the Resort
The Iberostar Ensenachos Resort is actually quite large and covers a lot of space. We had our BOB stroller and could get everywhere with it and pile on the kids and all their stuff. So it was easy to get around. I would recommend if you have kids under 5 to bring a stroller even if it is just for walking around and nap time by the pool.
The evening entertainment surprised me, I did not expect to be so good but our kids wanted to get through their supper just so we could go! Every night they had 2 shows at their entertainment theatre, one for kids and then a later one for adults. Almost every night, we went to the kid’s show and they had a fabulous time getting involved and having fun!
In the main lobby, everyone seems to gather in the evening and they have lots of seating areas to lounge out in and kids scattered everywhere. In the seating areas, they also had shuffleboard and games randomly through the seating areas to entertain kids and adults for that matter.
I think the only place we didn’t really hang out in was the Cigar lounge, but if you are able to take a break from the kids you should enjoy a Cuban cigar in Cuba! It is an adult bucket list item to check off!
The rooms were surprisingly larger than we expected. They had a large bath for the kids to leave a small sandcastle in the bottom every day :) A shower for us and even a separate toilet for those always adventurous family bathroom time!
We had a king size bed and asked for a cot for Luca which they had in the room before arrive. For Sofia, we brought a Graco Pack n Play, which fit perfectly in the walk-in closet. Yep, she slept in a closet for our visit!
The other thing we really liked was that it had a nice size balcony to be able to sit on after the kids were asleep and have a few drinks, listen to some music and relax since we didn’t have a separate room to go to. We always like to be outside as much as possible so the balcony was a great perk.
Resort Tours & Excursions
We did not take any tours or resort excursions off the resort on this trip. We were really just wanting to enjoy the resort, beach, pools and time with our kids. We found enough to do on the resort that we didn’t even feel like we missed out on exploring the nearby attractions as we were only there for 7 days.
We had also been to other parts of Cuba before as well, so we have been to a few of the key places to go to. They do have tours available and you can find more information out at the lobby/concierge if you are interested.
As I was strolling Sofia around at 5am one morning (poor little one was so sick), I had coffee with another couple who were up and off to take a trip to Havana by a small plane for the day with a tour company. So, they have lots to offer as far as other excursions if you are interested.
Here are some ideas of things that might be offered:
Iberostar Ensenachos Resort Bookings
Bookings were done through Westjet Vacations, we have used them for reservations of flights and accommodation before and like always we have never had an issue! Prices can vary between the winter season, and usually higher around Christmas, February break and at Easter. If you are looking for better prices stay away from those weeks, but sometimes I know with kids you just have to go at those times :)
If you are looking for other options in the area here are a few you could check out. There are a few other hotels in the area, but most are all-inclusive type resorts.
Cayo Santa Maria Cuba – Things Do Do
- Enjoy the beaches
- Snorkelling or Diving
- Pool time & waterpark
- Day Trips to Havana
Cuba Travel Tips
- There is a small gift shop on the resort for essentials like sunscreen, baby food, diapers, toiletries, chips, candy, etc. Nothing major and overpriced but if you are in a pinch and need something you might be able to find something to hold you over.
- WiFi was not in the rooms but was available in the hotel lobby. Based on what we are used to in Canada, it was really slow. But, if you needed to check anything important you could do it if need be.
- Transportation to and from the airport was through the tour operator on an air-conditioned bus. Super easy and relaxing ride to the resort and a chance to see the surrounding area. Always nice to have a beer on the bus ride to the resort. If you don’t travel well on buses then maybe have some anti-nausea medicine packed.
- Don’t forget to have your insurance before travelling to Cuba, we used World Nomads for our travel insurance, and on a previous trip to Varadero we had to use the healthcare system in Cuba and it is very good!
- If you are looking for a hot holiday packing list you can check out our FREE one here!
- Another good travel resource is to check out Go Cuba Tourism for more information on Cuba travel.
- We always do a little research and have a travel guide along with us on trips, here are a few of our favourites to check out about Cuba! If you are only going for a 7 day trip, it’s best to know in advance exactly what you would want to see and have it scheduled prior.
Overall we thought that Iberostar Ensenachos Resort was one of the best all inclusive family resorts in Cuba. They had so many things to do for kids and really catered to a family lifestyle. The food was kid appropriate and the evening entertainment was focused on children and families.
There are many other highlights for the entire family, so if you are looking to plan a family trip to Cuba with a larger group this would be a great Cuba all inclusive resort to take everyone.
We took this trip to Cayo Santo Maria, Cuba when Luca was 4 and Sofia was just under 2.
Have you been to Iberostar Ensenachos Resort in Cayo Santa Maria?
Anything I missed that I should add to help others before their trip?
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We were not compensated in any way with our visit to Iberostar Ensenachos Resort, all our opinions and reviews are our own.