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Cuban architecture

Jardines de la Reina

Jardines de la Reina Imagine 250 virgin coral islands set in a sea of turquoise and jade. Jardines de la Reina (The Queen’s Gardens)”, some 60 miles off the mainland of Cuba, is a completely undeveloped natural wilderness, extending over 75 miles.

In 1996, Jardines de la Reina was declared Marine Natural Park. Access is restricted and limited exclusively for Avalon Fishing and Diving Center. Commercial fishing has been banned from all but the outermost edges of the Park.

The little town of Júcaro with its old fashioned wooden houses and 2000 inhabitants is your entrance to this private world of water, fish and coral.

Aside from a stunning variety of marine life, the coral islands are home to a fascinating collection of birds and plants. Birds commonly seen include ospreys, pelicans, frigate birds, spoonbills, and many different sorts of heron and egret. The only mammal is the ‘Jutía’ a tree loving animal the size of a squirrel, while reptiles are represented by a large population of iguanas. The flora is mainly palm trees, dissimilar forms of Caribbean pine trees, sea grapes and the ever present mangroves.

The 75 mile long mangrove and coral island system form what is said to be the third longest barrier reef in the world. Certainly, it is one of the last untouched reefs available in the diving world. Like so much of the Caribbean, the real beauty is below the surface. Extensive flat teem with fish. A chain of coral reefs, very close to the southern shore of the archipelago, is made up of undisturbed and undamaged coral. Mangrove roots provide an incredible nursery for the smaller fish which in return provide the reef with huge schools of baitfish. The quantity of food attracts enormous numbers of large fish, more than anywhere else in the Caribbean. Its possible to hand feed a 200-400 lb Jewfish almost every dive.

Imagine a marine wilderness with walls covered with brightly sponges and corals plunging well below the limits of safe diving to shallow reefs filled with both schooling and solitary fish. The bones and maybe the booty of old Spanish galleons lie on the reefs, providing excitement for the diver and home to corals, sponges and fish.

Sharks are one of the main attractions and are everywhere. You can easily dive weekly with 5 different species of “Carcarinus”; Silky, Caribbean Reef, Lemon, Black tip, Nurse and you have chances to dive also with Whale sharks and Hammerhead sharks. The best opportunity for video and photography lovers in the Jardines is from Oct until May. Water clarity and visibility are at their peak, up to 200 feet. During summer time, June- -August you will have more fish around due to the reproduction season.


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