Join Berkley White for an underwater photo adventure in the famous Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) Cuba. Just over 60 miles from Cuba’s southern coast lie a series of small islands that have been protected from development, tourism, and fishing. Christopher Columbus named the area Jardines de la Reina, or Gardens of the Queen, and it’s one of the most pristine coral reef and mangrove ecosystems in the world.

Dive into Cuba’s pristine lost coast

Just over 60 miles from Cuba’s southern coast lie a series of small islands that have been protected from development, tourism, and fishing. Christopher Columbus named the area Jardines de la Reina, or Gardens of the Queen, and it’s one of the most pristine coral reef and mangrove ecosystems in the world.



Backscatter Cuba Underwater Photography Trip Jan 17-25 & Jan 24 - Feb 2, 2020 Sharks

Designated a national park by the Cuban Government in 1996, the archipelago is carefully regulated to maintain the spectacular habitat. Less than 60 divers per week are permitted to visit the area. It is widely regarded as one of the Caribbean’s most amazing dive sites.

Many researchers consider the area a model of what unspoiled coral and mangrove environments look like. Fidel Castro often visited the Gardens and once even dove with legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau. Castro felt strongly about protecting the coastline and moved to limit fishing and development in the archipelago as early as 1960. For decades, almost no one had access to dive or fish.



Backscatter Cuba Underwater Photography Trip Jan 17-25 & Jan 24 - Feb 2, 2020 Mangroves

Now, divers who are able to secure a reservation to enter the park should expect stunning virgin coral and untouched mangrove marshes. The 250 islands in the archipelago are ringed by steep walls, caves, and canyons dotted with bright sponges, black corals, gorgonians and soft corals. The mangroves offer an incredible nursery for young fish, a shelter for invertebrates and habitat for amphibians. Seagrass beds help protect these fragile ecosystems from open ocean wave energy.

The Caribbean’s largest populations of adult fish, sharks, snappers, groupers, and jewfish are found in Jardines de la Reina. The goliath groupers that inhabit this area are some of the largest in the world, often growing over 400 pounds. Sharks are plentiful in the area. Divers often spot silkies, reef, lemon, blacktip, king hammerhead and nurse sharks on a single dive.



Backscatter Cuba Underwater Photography Trip Jan 17-25 & Jan 24 - Feb 2, 2020 Jawfish


The relatively shallow nature of many of the reefs and dive sites makes for excellent snorkeling and freediving. Visibility often tops 40 meters. Among some of the shallow mangroves, visitors may encounter the area’s crocodiles, stingrays, and iguanas. The region is also famous for its incredible bird life. Birders will enjoy spotting more than 60 species of migratory birds that stop in the area. Jardines de la Reina is an ecosystem unlike any other and is one of the last truly wild areas in the Caribbean.

Avalon Fleet II

Avalon Fleet II has 10 deluxe comfortable staterooms with air conditioning and individual thermostats. All cabins have private bathrooms and 2 beds (one full, one twin). The design and interior decor give the yacht a touch of intimacy, refinement, a sense of warmth and simplicity.



Backscatter Cuba Underwater Photography Trip Jan 18-25 & Jan 25 - Feb 1, 2020 Avalon II

There is a spacious and comfortable combination lounge, dining room and bar area on the boat deck. In cabins and common areas, you will find European /American sockets (220 volts and 110 volts ).

Avalon II offers to the divers a lot of space for dive equipment and photo and video cameras. On the top deck a Jacuzzi (500-gallon hot tub), with a panoramic view: ideal space to drink a mojito after the last dive at sunset.



Backscatter Cuba Underwater Photography Trip Jan 17-25 & Jan 24 - Feb 2, 2020

Getting there

Yes, you are allowed to travel to Cuba!

Most travelers from the US fly to Havana (HAV) on a Friday, spend one night in Havana and then travel to meet the boat on Saturday. The trip ends the next Saturday and guests return to Havana for one night, returning home on Sunday.

If you’d like to spend more time in Havana we can arrange for you to come in a few days early to explore the rich culture of the Cuban people.

If you’d like to skip Havana altogether, it may be possible to fly in and out of a closer airport on Saturdays. Ask us for details and let us help you choose flights that work best for you.

Learn more about visiting Cuba here.

Backscatter Cuba Underwater Photography Trip Jan 17-25 & Jan 24 - Feb 2, 2020 hutia desmarest



Pricing:

  • $3,800 per person

Standard Package Includes:

  • 7 nights aboard the Avalon II, double occupancy
  • All meals & beverages
  • Diving
  • Transfers from Havana
  • Taxes

Additional costs:

  • International airfare to Cuba (HAV)
  • Port Fee: $190
  • Conservation Fee: $100
  • Nitrox
  • Single supplement
  • Gear rental
  • Trip Insurance
  • Crew tip
  • Cuba land tour extension


Travel info:

Trip1:

  • Jan 17: Arrive in Havana (HAV) and stay 1 night
  • Jan 18: Transfer to Jucaro and board the Avalon II
  • Jan 25: Disembark Avalon II and return to Havana
  • Jan 26: Fly home

Trip2:

  • Jan 24: Arrive in Havana (HAV) and stay 1 night
  • Jan 25: Transfer to Jucaro and board the Avalon II
  • Feb 1: Disembark Avalon II and return to Havana
  • Feb 2: Fly home




Contact us for more travel details. We can assist in booking all flights, tours, transfers, and accommodations before and after the cruise.

Divers Alert Network (DAN) or equivalent evacuation insurance is MANDATORY on all trips. Comprehensive Cancellation, Accident, Medical and Baggage insurance such as Dive Assure is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Berkley White
Berkley White is the owner and founder of Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo. Berkley is one of the leading underwater imaging professionals, who’s passion for underwater imaging is equaled by his passion for educating others. His images and articles are regularly seen in national and international scuba diving publications, and he leads several educational underwater imaging expeditions each year, such as The Digital Shootout. To view his online portfolio, please visit berkleywhite.com.

Backscatter Cuba Underwater Photography Trip Jan 17-25 & Jan 24 - Feb 2, 2020 Croc Split