Diving in Jardines de la Reina, unspoilt paradise

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Diving in Jardines de la Reina, unspoilt paradise

Diving in Jardines de la Reina, Cuba is a unique opportunity that most divers only dream of. The ultimate shark diving paradise, this is one of the best places in the world to experience encounters with 7 species of these magnificent creatures.

Located approximately 50 miles south of mainland Cuba and 80 miles north of Cayman Brac, Jardines de la Reina (The Gardens of the Queen) is Cuba's premier dive destination and undoubtedly one of the best places for shark diving in the world. This beautiful archipelago and heavily protected marine reserve, which comprises over 250 virgin coral islands surrounded by mangroves, extends over 75 miles along Cuba's southern coast to form the third longest barrier reef in the world.

Jardines de la Reina was named so by Christopher Columbus to honour the Queen of Spain, believing that it resembled a beautifully-maintained garden both above and below the water. Diving enthusiasts come from all over the world to explore this exclusive, underwater paradise, which is the largest marine reserve in the Caribbean.

The warm, clear turquoise waters and diverse marine life within Jardines de la Reina are alluring enough, but the natural shark encounters are something else. These magnificent creatures can be spotted throughout the reserve on a daily basis, and there are up to seven different species to look out for. Coming face to face with Nurse sharks, Lemon sharks, Silky sharks, Caribbean Reef sharks and Black-tip sharks in this unique natural environment is incredible, and you can even dive with Whale sharks and Hammerhead sharks, particularly in November and December. You will be amazed at how graceful and intelligent these often misunderstood creatures are. This ultimate shark diving experience is one not to miss.

Amongst Jardines de la Reina's pristine coral reefs, mangroves, sea beds and vertical walls, divers can discover a remarkable diversity of marine life. This important ecosystem hosts a plethora of fish such Goliath grouper, tarpon, snapper, jacks, wrasses, barracuda, bonefish and many other species, surrounded of course by the many patrolling sharks. Commercial fishing is strictly prohibited here so fish life is healthy and plentiful. Other marine life frequently spotted in the Marine Park includes salt water crocodiles, hawksbill turtles, giant southern sting rays, conches and spotted moray eels, to name but a few. The diversity is incredible.

Exploring this undeveloped, natural wilderness is a diver's dream. Imagine diving walls covered with brightly-coloured corals and sponges, and shallow reefs teeming with fish and other sea life. You will also find underwater caves and canyons and even the remains of old Spanish galleons from the 17th century on the reefs. This exciting underwater playground offers unlimited exploration, whatever your diving ability.

Access to Jardines de la Reina Marine Park is restricted and numbers of divers are limited to just 700 a year. Reserving your holiday as far in advance as possible is recommended to guarantee a place during your preferred time of year. Avalon is the only dive company allowed to operate by law in the area, and professional diving instructors are on hand to provide equipment and any training required to enhance your diving experience. The Scuba Place are exclusive booking agents for Jardines de La Reina in the UK.

Around 80 dives sites are currently available within the reserve, including Octopus Cave, Black Negro, Pipin and Cubera Head, all of which are swarming with sharks. Your dive package will include around 15 of these sites, with the option to book additional dives - and dont forget to take a night dive here - it is truly stunning! Comfortable, fully-equipped dive boats will transport divers to individual sites from your live-aboard accommodation.

As for accommodation, there is a good selection to choose from. A live-aboard floating hotel, luxury cruising yachts and safari boats are just some of the options available, all of which have been specially constructed for diving in Jardines de la Reina. Need I say more...?


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