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I’ve dived and gone to heaven…in Jardines De La Reina, Cuba

JARDINES DE LA REINA – CUBA

I have two addictions in life – Diving and Travel. Interestingly, my first dive ever was in Cuba and you can imagine my excitement at the opportunity to really dive there as an experienced diver. Of course, what I didn’t realise is that I would experience some of the best diving I have ever done in my life. I’m not going to lie, with the Galapagos, Palau, PNG and all these other places that divers rave about, I wouldn’t have expected Cuba to hold a flame to it. I will say it now, and I will say it only once…. I. WAS. WRONG. Jardines De La Reina (The Queen’s Gardens) was one of the most exhilarating and exciting dive locations I have ever been to. Let me tell you 6 reasons why you MUST dive Jardines De La Reina at least once in your life……

  1. For the isolation….

Jardines De La Reina is one of the most isolated dive locations in the world. Like the rest of Cuba, the “time warp” extends to the waters that surround it, with some of the most pristine reef you will ever see.

Why? As it turns out, Fidel Castro was an avid Scuba diver and fisherman, and his favourite place to visit was Jardines De La Reina. So intense was his passion for diving here that he placed strict laws on the area, permitting only 500 divers a year as well as similar limits on fishing, as well as no commercial fishing in the region. Try spot another diver out on your dive… it won’t happen (At least hopefully not soon!)

  1. For the pristine reef

Given that the islands are uninhabitable, the US travel embargos, the isolation of the area and the fact that only one operator services the area, it results in a piece of living history, a glimpse of how the Caribbean reef looked in the days of Columbus. Experience the last piece of undestroyed Caribbean. With crevasses, swim throughs, caves and walls full of hard and soft coral, black coral, fans and absolutely teeming with a huge variety of marine life. The big, the small, the colourful and the plain weird – it’s all there.

  1. For the Shaaaaaaarks! 

SO. MANY. SHARKS. Let me start by saying, if you have a fear of sharks, this place is not for you. If you are a shark lover then by the time that you leave the Queen’s Gardens, you will actually ignore the sharks to look at an interesting piece of coral. A shark feed is done about once a day and Caribe and Silky Sharks can be found everywhere. They are definitely very friendly – “amable” and there are so many shark species here including Silky, Caribe, Tawny Nurse, Sharp Nose, Hammerheads, Tiger Sharks and Whale Sharks – you are always on the lookout for them, not that you need to look hard.

  1. For the crocs

Ever fancied being a bit of “croc bait”? Nah, just kidding, but if swimming with crocs is on your bucket list, these guys aren’t going to stop you. Get up close and personal with “Nino” or one of his buddies. They’ll call him over to the boat and if you are “loco” enough, get in and meet them! They won’t bite…… I hope! An experience every diver MUST tick off their bucket list once in your life.

  1. For the 400 pound Goliath Grouper

The Goliath Grouper there are pretty massive, beautiful and surprisingly aggressive! Never fear the sharks, these massive creatures want the fish in the box and on my experience knocked out sharks and dive masters to get them! Hey, they had to get to that size somehow.

If groupers aren’t your idea of interesting, there are also Barracuda, Tarpon, Jacks and Trevally to watch schooling as well.

  1. For the amazing food on the Avalon I

If like me, your idea of an amazing meal is huge fresh lobster, crab and fish every night, then you will eat yourself into a coma. So much fresh seafood every day on the Avalon, you’ll be spoiled for choice. If seafood isn’t really your preference – don’t stress, there is pork, beef and chicken as well. They’ll cook up whatever you want, including daily pizza. It is 5* service after all. Just don’t forget to wash it down with one of their amazing Mojitos.

If I haven’t given you enough reasons, check out the full trip report of a week on board Avalon I in Jardines De La Reina here.

– Carmen Bolton, Allways Dive Expeditions.

For more information on Cuba, contact the staff at Allways Dive Expeditions on 1800 338 239 or email allways@allwaysdive.com.au!