A remote chain of 250 virgin coral and mangrove islands off Cuba’s southern coast, the Jardines de la Reina, or ‘Gardens of the Queen’ deserve to be on the wish list of any adventurous diver.
Considered one of the of the world’s best managed marine reserves, these waters burst with life and are home to vibrant coral reefs, supported by a wide range of pristine habitats such as seagrass beds and mangroves.
The region boasts exceptional visibility, plunging walls adorned with colourful sponges, hard and soft coral, and reefs that harbour possibly the healthiest and most diverse marine life of the Caribbean.
The beauty and diversity here are not the only draw for divers. At least six different species of shark are seen in these waters, including silky, lemon and great hammerhead sharks, while whale sharks can be seen seasonally each year. A unique highlight of the area is the American saltwater crocodiles that live in shallow water amongst the seagrass beds and mangroves. These ancient creatures are surprisingly placid here and snorkelling is possible, but at your own risk!
Permits to dive Jardines de la Reina are limited to just a few hundred divers a year and booking in advance is highly recommended.
Read Dive expert Charlie Munns' blog about his trip to Cuba's Jardines de la Reina.
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