Gardens of the Queen - Caribbean

  • Water temp 25-28C
  • Air Temp 22-27C
  • Visibility 25M+
  • Good for... Variety of marine life as well as pristine corals
  • Suitable for beginners Confident beginners upwards
  • Highlights Dive the pristine reefs of Cuba's premier marine park - the Gardens of the Queen. Up to 5 species of shark as well as vast schools of reef fish and huge groupers

About Gardens of the Queen

Gardens of the Queen itinerary dives Cuba's spectacular national park. 60 miles off the Cuban coastline, this is the jewel in Cuba's diving crown. More than 600 cays make up the gardens. It is famous for the pristine corals and vast clouds of schooling fish, alongside a healthy reef shark population. But there is more than just diving! As well as 7 nights on board your Cuba liveaboard, you will enjoy 2 nights in the soulful city of Havana, including activities with Cuban scientists and marine experts about ocean conservation and cultural exchanges.

Havana programme
Before you begin the diving adventure, you have 2 nights in Havana, staying in the elegant 5 star Iberostar Parque Central hotel. This is an action packed programme, with time spent getting to know more about Cuba's marine conservation works and visiting the city's cultural highlights. The tour is fully escorted by experts throughout, including Dr Julio Baisre. Havana is a lively city with some superb street photography opportunities and genuine interactions with the Cuban people.

Diving in the Gardens of the Queen
Jardines de la Reina or 'Gardens of the Queen' was named by Christopher Columbus to honor Queen Isabel of Spain. It is located 60 miles off the southern coast of Cuba and is one of the largest marine parks in the Caribbean and known to have the healthiest marine ecosystem.

The Gardens of the Queen is made up of 250 virgin coral and mangrove islands, extending along 75 miles of pristine coastline. The national park was created in 1996 and enjoys active protection. As a part of your packge, a park fee and conservation fee is prepaid. The walls and coral gardens are largely untouched by divers and mass tourism. From drop off to gentle bombies, the topography is diverse. Vast schools of fish swirl around the corals and sponges, whilst large grouper, sharks and turtles are commonplace. Nurse, black tip, lemon, silkies and even great hammerheads all patrol the waters.

Jardines Aggressor 1

The Jardines Aggressor 1 opens up an exciting new diving destination - Cuba. Now as part of the Cuba Travel Program you can explore this magical island both above and below the water. Your holiday to Cuba not only includes 7 nig... MORE

The Gardens of the Queen itinerary is a year round itinerary.

Embarkation
Your trip will depart from Jucaro - transfers to and from Havana are included in your package

Trip Duration
The Gardens of the Queen includes 2 nights in Havana followed by 7 nights on board Jardines Aggressor 1

There are normally 4 dives a day apart from on your first and last day.

Arrival
You will be met in Havana and be taken to your hotel to begin your Havana stay. Check in commences at 16:00

Havana itinerary
The Havana itinerary is a fixed programme:
Friday: Breakfast at hotel and conference about marine conservation programmes, visit to fortress of El Morro, lunch in Havana, afternoon cultural tour of Old Havana, 7 pm dinner at hotel with Cuban hosts and learn about Cuba’s marine conservation programs & Visit to a Cuban neighbourhood

Saturday: 7–7:45am Breakfast at hotel, 8 am transfer to Jucaro to board yacht for marine program with lunch on theyacht upon arrival at approximately 3 pm for boarding.

Gardens of the Queen
The dive sites in the Gardens of the queen are quite diverse. You will dive a range of sites over the course of your trip, depending on local conditions. The below are just some of the key highlight sites.

Many have a drop off or wall. At Octopus Cave the wall is packed with sponges and gorgonians, Pippin is a deep drop off with coral canyons, resident school of Silky sharks and Caribbean reef sharks , huge spotted eagle rays, tarpon, jacks, snappers, turtles. You also find big colonies of black corals. Avalon and Vincente see eagle rays flying along the wall.

Other sites have a more gentle topography. Cabezo de la Cubera is an isolated coral formation on a sandy bottom, popular for the enormous swathes of blue tangs and tarpon! FGoliath grouper are found at Five Seas, a purpose built wreck dive.

Cabezo de la Raya is a circular coral formation more than 30m. in diameter, forming bands of coral in the sand, with many sting rays in the sandy areas, nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, goliath grouper, black and Nassau groupers, hawksbills, king mackerel, at the end the dive finishes at 15 ft. in a shallow wall full of reef fish, grunts, schoolmasters, parrots, barracudas, angelfish, blue tangs, mullet and nudibranch

Disembarkation
4– 5 am transfer to Havana International Airport for arrival at approximately 12 noon. Most airlines require a 3 hour check-in prior to flight.