A chain of 250 virgin coral island, unsettled without any hotel-building and without any street or village. Situated 60 miles offshore, stretching for over 75 miles, and at times some 20 miles wide, the area was recently declared the largest Marine Park of the entire Caribbean area. Access is very restricted, and commercial fishing has been banned from all but the outermost extremes of the Park. Jucaro is the boarding point, a small village with old fashion houses and 2.000 inhabitants
Aside from stunning variety of marine life, the above surface flora and fauna is fascinating. Bird varieties commonly seen includes ospreys, pelicans, frigate birds, spoonbills, and many different sorts of heron and egret – to name a few. The only mammal is the “Jutia” while reptiles are represented by a large population of iguanas. The flora is mainly palm trees, differing forms of Caribbean pine trees, sea grapes and the ever present mangroves.
However, like so much of the Caribbean, the real beauty is below the surface. Besides the extensive flats there is a chain of coral reefs very close to the southern shore of the Archipelago, where undisturbed and undamaged coral abounds.
60 miles south of the mainland of Cuba and 80 miles north of Cayman Brac is a 75 mile long mangrove and coral island system forming what some people say is the third longest barrier reef in the world. It’s a 2.400 square miles Marine Park. There is NO COMMERCIAL FISHING in the Park and the number of inhabitants is ZERO.
Photo Gallery Jardines de la Reina
Imagine a Marine WILDERNESS with walls covered with brightly hued sponges and corals plunging well below the limits of safe diving to shallow reefs filled with both schooling and solitary fish and wrecks (even some Old Spanish galleons from 17th century.)
The mangroves provide an incredible nursery for the smaller fish which in turn provide the reef with huge schools of baitfish. This has provided a home to a prolific number of LARGE fish (we think more than anywhere else in the Caribbean) . Shark rodeos and hand feeding 200-400 LB Jewfish are an everyday experience. Sharks are one of the main attractions and are every-where.
You can easily dive weekly with 5 different species of Carcarinus: Silky, Caribbean Reef, Lemon, Black Tip, Nurse, and you ha chances to dive also with Whale Sharks and Hammerhead Sharks. Avalon Diving Center is the only operation allowed by law in this entire area, and hosts no more than 300 divers a year. Certainly, it is one of the last virgin reefs known to man. 80 dive sites are currently available, scattered over the entire perimeter of Los Jardines de la reina. Dive sites are well protected from the winds and sea currents. Our dive centre is well equipped with new compressors, tanks and weights, and two big dive boats.