Jardines de la Reina was declared a Marine Park in 1996. Together with the Cuban Sciences and Environment Ministry, this area has been preserved for future generations as a complex network of untouched marine ecosystems. It has been regarded by many knowledgeable scientists and organizations as a reference of what is the original status of a coral reef; as it was found by Christopher Columbus in the times of the discovery.
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 contrasting blue water. Many species of gorgonians, fragile laminar corals showing their beautiful shapes through crevices, canyons and caves. The mangroves providing an incredible nursery area for young fish populations, filtering the water that goes to the reef together with the sea grass beds and in return receiving protection from the open ocean wave energy; all interconnected in a very fragile net that helps keep its variety, richness and splendor.
The biggest 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 6 different species: Silkies, Reef, Lemon, Black tip, King Hammerhead and nurse sharks. From July to November you have the chance to swim with Whale Sharks. Gardens of the Queen is certainly one of the last virgin reefs known by man. Dive and snorkel sites are well protected from the winds and sea currents. Visibility is more than 40 meters. There is a wide variety of fish and corals.
The Gardens of the Queen Marine Park is a wonderful place, both in and out of the water. This marine park is probably the most important group of islands in the Caribbean, integrated by one million-acre wetlands. In addition, 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.
Avalon Diving Center is the only operation in the area hosting no more than 3000 divers per year. The dive center is well equipped with new compressors, nitrox blenders and quality equipment for rent.
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