Gardens of the Queen is an extended 150 miles long mangrove island system and is located 60 miles from the southern coast of Cuba. The protected marine park has an area of 90 miles length to 20 miles width. Christoper Columbus called this natural paradise rightly "Gardens of the Queen Isabella" and many divers have given these islands the nickname "Galapagos of the Caribbean".
The archipelago consists of a 250 islands – chain surrounded with pristine reefs and mangrove forests, which stretch along 75 miles of turquoise water. 1996 Gardens of the Queen was declared Marine Park and with the support and management of Avalon Fleet (Liveaboards Avalon 1 and Avalon 2), the research center of coastal ecosystems of Ciego de Avila and the Department of Fisheries Control, this area of complex network of pristine marine ecosystems has been preserved for future generations.
The condition of the coral reefs in Gardens of the Queen is considered by many scientists and organizations as a benchmark of what the original state of the coral reefs during Christopher Columbus early years might have been.
THE UNDERWATER WORLD OF THE GARDEN OF THE QUEENS MARINE PARK
Currently there are 80 wind- and current protected dive sites available in Gardens of the Queen. When submerging for the first time into the underwater world of Gardens of the Queen you wil be hypnotized by the magnificent cliffs covered with shimmering sponges. This Cuban Marine Park offers giant star corals, black corals with their branches creating beautiful contrasts with the blue waters of the Caribbean sea, many types of fan corals and the fragile stone corals. We find fascinating ancient coral landscape elements like caverns, caves, cracks and gorges.
Scuba diving in Gardens of the Queen offers abundant underwater life, this marine park has the largest stocks of adult fish in the Caribbean; Sharks, snappers, goliath groupers, wich are really an impressive encounter, from 200 to 400 pounds, are an everyday experience.
The Sharks are of course one of the major attractions and can be seen regularly. The liveaboard scuba diving experience in Gardens of the Queen offers many different shark species; Caribbean Reef sharks, Great Hammerhead sharks, Silky sharks, leopard sharks, lemon sharks, blacktip sharks, great hammerheads and nurse sharks can be observed while scuba diving in Gardens of the Queen.
4 Seaturtle species like leatherbacks, green turtles, loggerheads and hawksbills are completing our scuba experience. From July to November, it is possible to swim with whale sharks.
During your diving trip in Jardines de la Reina you will have the opportunity to have close encounters with the endangered american crocodiles in the mangrove waters.
THE GARDENS OF THE QUEEN LIVEABOARD DIVING EXPEDITIONS
The Avalon fleet offers a choice of 6 dive vessels which they bring to the pristine waters of the marine park Gardens of the Queen in the Gulf of Ana Maria. Avalon II is additionaly equipped with Nitrox.
Our guests will experience diving and relaxing in the turquoise waters of this Marine Park, in addition to beaches and virgin underwater paradises. You dive with 30 sharks 10 centimeters away from your mask with absolute safety while the chef is preparing the best seafood in the world, 5 minutes away. Experienced Diving Instructors will be assisting in every dive.
A marine biologist will be available for talks and lectures. Underwater photographers and cameramen will be available on demand. A professional crew will be giving the guests personalized attention every minute, in addition to the warmth and friendly way of the Cubans mixed with the highest European quality standards and infrastructure.
Wake up in a luxurious cabin and look through the window: all you will see are lonely white sand beaches and blue waters. There is no one else there!! Only their boat in many miles of mangrove keys, beaches and rocky islands.
This luxury live-aboard stays in exclusive loneliness, 60 miles off the Cuban southern coast, in an unforgettable diving week. You will have spectacular diving and desert beach sunsets, enjoy a night party of “dancing to salsa with the groupers”, make a grill at the beach and do many other activities…..and of course you are going to taste excellent Cuban cocktails.
All liveaboards begin on Saturday and end on Fridays. The diver must arrive in Havana/Cuba at least one day before the boat departure, because the transfer to Jucaron on Saturday is taking place early in the morning around 4am. Please note that at the end of trip you have to stay at least one night more in Havana, as you arrive back from Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Friday night at 9pm.
You have access to all the Liveaboard vessels by clicking on the Bootsicon on this page.
DIVING SEASONS AT THE GARDENS OF THE QUEEN
Diving activites in Gardens of the Queen are possible all year round. The diving best season begins in September-October because visibility increase du to less plancton. Except for whale sharks ( the best time is from July to November) you will find the whole year sharks, giant groupers and all the many species of this diverse underwater world.
Most flights arrive at Jose Marti Airport in Havana, 18 kilometers from the Cuban capita. Few companies use the small airport in the city of Santiago de Cuba. Between After Spain and Cuba are operating Air Europa, Iberia and Air Comet. Air France is an option via Paris. The Cuban airline Cubana de Aviacion offers the least expensive flights from Madrid to Cuba with a stopover in Santiago de Cuba.
Saturday morning at 4am divers pick up from Havana and 5 hours Transfer to the port Jucaro. Arrived in Jucaro the dive vessels leave right away and cross the caribbean ocean to the Gardens of the Queen archipelago. Diving days are from Sunday to Thursday, you enjoy 3 dives daily.
Friday the boat navigates back to Jucaro from where the transfer is already organized back to Havana.