I look forward to going to the Galapagos again in the next few days, hoping for extraordinary encounters with its spectacular fauna.
Jardines de la Reina in Cuba is the most preserved area in the Caribbean and belongs to the best diving spots in the world. Join Josef Litt aboard Avalon Fleet II and enjoy six days of diving with sharks, crocodiles and giant groupers. Download leaflet.
5 – 15 March 2020
Price: 115,990 Kč (approx. £3,990)
The price includes:
- Return flight from Prague, Munich or Vienna. The operator will book your flights from anywhere in the world.
- 7-day trip aboard M/Y Avalon Fleet II, diving Jardines de la Reina
- Two nights in Havana in the hotel with breakfast
- Price is based on two people sharing the Standard cabin
- Full-board with snacks, hot and cold drinks
- Weights, weight-belts and tanks with air
The price does not include:
- Additional hotel accommodation if required due to flight schedules
- Travel and compulsory diving insurance (we recommend DAN)
- Rental of diving equipment
- Nitrox €100 for all dives
- Tips for the crew and guides €250-€300
- Entry visa to Cuba – must be arranged in advance
- Other not listed services
Jardines de la Reina Diving Expedition is organised by SPARK AIRTICKETS, s.r.o., Prague, Czech Republic.
An underwater paradise is all that comes to mind when you first enter the water. Imagine the vertical walls covered with brightly hued sponges, huge Pilar Corals, black corals extending its branches in the blue water — many species of gorgonians, fragile laminar corals showing their beautiful shapes through crevices, canyons and caves. The mangroves provide an incredible nursery area for young fish populations, filtering the water that goes to the reef and in return receiving protection from the energy of open ocean waves; all interconnected in a very fragile network that helps to keep its variety, richness and splendour.
The most significant populations of adult fish in the Caribbean, sharks, snappers and groupers; jewfish up to 400 pounds are an everyday experience. Sharks are one of the main attractions and you can see them everywhere. You can easily dive with six different species: silkies, reef, lemon, black-tip, hammerhead and nurse sharks. From July to November you have a chance to encounter whale sharks. Gardens of the Queen is indeed one of the last virgin reefs known by man. Dive and snorkel sites are well protected from the winds and sea currents. Visibility may reach more than 40 meters. There is a wide variety of fish and corals.
The Gardens of the Queen Marine Park is a beautiful place, both in and out of the water. This protected area is probably the most important group of islands in the Caribbean, integrated by one million-acre wetland. Besides, this marine park acts as a critical refuge for North American birds migrating along the route through Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to South America. This wildlife sanctuary hosts more than 68 species of migratory birds.
Jardines Avalon II has ten deluxe comfortable staterooms with air conditioning and individual thermostats. All cabins have private bathrooms and two beds (one full, one twin). The vessel has an overall capacity of 20 passengers and 9 crew members. The design and interior decor give the yacht a touch of intimacy, refinement, a sense of warmth and simplicity. Each space is created to provide its guests with maximum comfort and safety. The boat guarantees all our guests a pleasant, exciting and exclusive cruise through Jardines de la Reina. Each room has panoramic windows to enjoy the breathtaking view of the Caribbean beaches.
There is a spacious and comfortable lounge, dining room and bar area on the boat deck. In cabins and common areas, you will find European and American sockets (220 V and 110 V).
Jardines Avalon II offers a lot of space for dive equipment and photo and video cameras. On the top deck, a Jacuzzi (500-gallon hot tub) offers a panoramic view; an ideal space to drink a mojito after the last dive at sunset.
In Jardines de la Reina, our season is year round. A normal week includes 22 dives from Sunday to Friday ( 4 dives/day + 2 on Friday, night dives are included in the package); return to the mainland is on Saturday. It is possible to book extra dives on request. Nitrox and DIN adaptors are available onboard.
Tipping is widespread in Cuba. Many Cuban workers rely on tips to supplement their basic income and they all work really hard. Tips help them get a better lifestyle. So if you receive good service, it is a very good etiquette to tip accordingly. Avalon Fleet recommends a tip of $400-$450 per person.
We would like to remind you that we do not accept credit cards. You will need cash for any purchases and gratuities. You can easily exchange money at the airport or at any bank for CUC (Cuban Convertible Pesos). The best currency to bring on your trip to Cuba is Euros. At present, there is a 10% penalty in addition to the exchange rate for US dollars.
- Renovated in 2014
- Length: 40 meters
- Top speed: 15 knots
- Cruising speed: 12 knots
- Max guests: 20
- Number of cabins with bathrooms: 10
- Tenders 12 m long with 2 Yamaha 150 hp engines each
- Non-Diver (snorkeler) friendly
- Leisure deck, shaded diving deck and sun deck
- Air-conditioned saloon and cabins
- Outdoor Dining
- Daily housekeeping
- Laundry service
- Audio & video entertainment
- TV in cabins
- Warm water showers
- Separate rinse tank for u/w cameras
- Hot Tub
Food & Drinks
- Local, western and vegetarian fine cuisine
- Beer and selection of wines
- Snacks all day
Boat navigation, communication and safety features
- Radar, depth sounder, GPS
- Radio VHF/DSC/SSB
- Emergency rafts, life vests
- Fire Alarm & Fire Extinguishers
- Bilge pump alarm
- Engine room CCTV
- Detroit Diesel power generator with twin generators
- Twin Bauer air compressors with cascade filling station and a Brownie NitroxMaker™ system with cascade filling station.
- Oxygen, first aid kits
- Crew trained in first aid
There are 80 diving spots that have been discovered to date; all well protected from wind and marine currents. Modern skiffs are used to organize excursions to lagoons and boat rides through mangrove channels around the archipelago.
Some of the most prominent dive sites are detailed hereunder.
At the mooring buoy, the reef is 15 meters deep, forming impressive canyons and caves that run perpendicular to the coastline until they reach 24 meters of depth at the edge of the drop-off. At this point, the reef is very colourful and alive, with huge schools of grunts patrolling the border of the abyss; many jacks; silver tarpons in groups of 10-50 coming straight at you and then making a swift turn 5 inches away from your mask, along with turtles, eagle rays flying near the wall and sometimes a lonely three-meter-long great hammerhead coming up from the deep to take a quick look at the divers and then disappearing into the blue. In the meantime, as divers go around the canyons, a group of 10-12 silky sharks keep swimming close to the surface near the boat; then, during the safety stop, they come to get an eyeful of the divers.
This is one of the best dives in Jardines de la Reina. Farallón is a giant coral mountain 17 meters deep at the top and divided into four parts by tunnels that run across and end at a white sandy bottom of 29 meters. These tunnels are about 30 m. long, 3 m. wide and 10 m. high, with an opening at the top that allows the sunlight to pour through, creating a spectacular show of light and shapes, giving the diver the feeling of flying across another world. Same species as in Pipín plus the reef shark (Carcharinus perezi) swimming close to the bottom.
Dive along the drop-off, with coral mountains at the edge descending from 20 m. to 40 m. and then to the abyss (800 m.). Visibility is more than 40 meters. You can find massive black coral colonies in the wall; also, the mysterious and shy great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) sometimes emerges from the blue to show its incredible body shape and elegance.
Black Coral I and II
These two dives are the most exciting! Minimum depth is 24 meters on top of the reef, then a sandy bottom at 30 m. Channels run across the reef perpendicular to the coast, until they reach the drop-off; at this place, there is a resident population of more than 30 reef sharks (Carcharinus perezi) that get very close to the divers (sometimes 10 inches away from the mask). After 15 minutes of breathless watching these creatures, while they swim around, the dive continues close to the coral formations and sandy channels with sleeping stingrays (Dasyatis americana), parrotfish, big black groupers and tons of jacks swimming near divers until the end of the dive.
Josef is a contributor to various publications. In its Spring 2019 issue, DIVE Magazine in the UK printed Josef’s article based on his extensive travel in Cuba.