Today’s trending dive destination is Cuba and the diving hotspot is Jardines de la Reina. This incredible dive destination has been a marine park for over 20 years and the protection has paid off. The area resembles the Caribbean at the time when Christopher Columbus named the area, Gardens of the Queen, in honour of his Spanish Queen Isabella.
Fidel Castro, a scuba diving enthusiast himself, declared an area of 2,170 square kms a national park, creating one of the largest marine reserves in the Caribbean. Under park regulations limited, regulated commercial lobster fishing in the north is allowed, there are no inhabitants and there are also minimal tourism opportunities.
The international spotlight shone on Jardines de la Reina in 2011 during Anderson Cooper’s 60 Minute segment featuring his visit to the Queen’s Gardens. During his trip, Cooper dived with and interviewed Dr. David E. Guggenheim, an American marine biologist and senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation in Washington, D.C. Guggenheim believes that Jardines de la Reina is “the most incredibly well protected and flourishing reef I’ve ever seen”. A bold statement from a marine scientist, conservation policy specialist, ocean explorer and educator.
Avalon, an Italian company (in a joint venture with the Cuban government) holds the licence for scuba diving, fly fishing and wildlife tours in the park. A maximum of 1200 divers per year are granted permits to dive in the marine sanctuary from one of their liveaboards.
With relations rapidly thawing between the United States of America and Cuba, visiting this Caribbean island nation is becoming less complicated. However with ease comes volume. With limited dive permits available and the spectacular diving on offer, divers are advised to book their liveaboard diving holiday as soon as possible to ensure that they too can experience this underwater garden of Eden.
Book your Jardines de la Reina scuba diving liveaboard holiday now
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