Join us on our second visit to Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen), a marine park located on the southeastern portion of Cuba. Known as one of the best-preserved marine areas in the Caribbean, this unique location is known for its high fish diversity and biomass. A variety of marine habitats including patch reefs, seagrass, and mangroves surround the islands, providing important nursery areas for many juvenile fish species. Large fish such as snapper, grouper and sharks are a frequent sighting for divers in this area, and the barrier reefs have a fantastic abundance of hard and soft coral and sponges. Surveyors will have the chance to contribute their sightings data to REEF's online database while discovering why this protected area is considered to have some of the best diving in the Caribbean! The itinerary for this trip will include diving in different locations than our first visit to Gardens of the Queen in 2018, allowing us to conduct surveys from new and unexplored areas.
Trip Type: Fish Survey - click here to learn more!
Pricing: $4,000 per diver based on double occupancy in a deluxe stateroom.
Accommodations: The Avalon II sleeps 20 passengers in 10 deluxe staterooms. Each stateroom is air-conditioned and has a private bathroom. The staterooms have two beds (1 full and 1 twin) and each stateroom has a window.
Diving: The Avalon II offers up to 4 dives per day for 5 days (Sunday-Thursday), and 2 dives on the final day of the trip (Friday.) All diving is done from two skiffs, which hold 10 divers each. Average water tempertaure is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A 3mm wetsuit is recommended
Price Includes: 7 nights of accommodation, 5 days of diving plus 1 half day of diving, all meals and snacks onboard, non-alcoholic beverages plus local beer and wine, round-trip airport transfers from Santa Clara or Camaguey, tanks and weights.
REEF Program Fee: A REEF Program Fee of $300 per diver will be added to each package to cover the cost of the group leader, seminar and REEF survey materials.
Other Fees Paid to REEF: $200/person inscription fee and $100/person conservation fee will be collected by REEF and paid to Avalon Cuban Diving Centers. Optional Nitrox is available for $100 for the week. Anyone requesting Nitrox will pre-pay this fee directly to REEF. Gear rental is available and must be reserved and pre-paid in advance.
Additional Fees: The following costs are not included in the price paid to REEF. All flights and associated travel to/from Cuba. Gratuities for the crew are not included in the cost of the charter and are at each individual's discretion.
Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is not included. REEF strongly recommends that each participant purchase adequate dive travel insurance to protect you from unforeseen circumstances. REEF partners with both DiveAssure and DAN to offer travel insurance packages specifically for divers. REEF will receive a portion of the proceeds from travel insurance purchases when you click on the following affiliate links for DiveAssure or DAN.
About the Trip Leader: Janna Nichols works extensively with the Volunteer Fish Survey Project as REEF's Citizen Science Program Manager. She coordinates REEF's social media presence and also established REEF's online Fishinar program. Janna is passionate about underwater photography and marine life identification, and many of her photos appear in west coast marine life ID guides, publications, and online resources. Having completing more than 1,000 REEF surveys, she is a member of REEF's Golden Hamlet Club and is an expert level surveyor in the Pacific Coast, Hawaii and Tropical Western Atlantic regions.
How to Sign Up: To reserve your space or find out more, e-mail us at trips@REEF.org, or call us at 305-588-5869. A $500 deposit will be collected at the time of booking. Visit our Trip Policies page for more information on deposit and payment schedules.
How to Get There: Participants should make arrangements to fly into Abel Santamaría Airport in Santa Clara (airport code SNU) or Ignacio Agramonte International Airport in Camaguey (airport code CMW). Participants should plan to arrive on Saturday, November 14, by mid-afternoon, and depart any time after noon the following Saturday, November 21. Participants are responsible for booking their own airfare. REEF is not able to book air travel.
Passports, Documentation, and Visas: Travel to Cuba for tourist activities as a US citizen remains prohibited by statute. However, the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued general licenses for 12 categories of travel. Individuals who meet the regulatory conditions of the general license they seek to travel under do not need to apply for an additional license from OFAC to travel to Cuba. This Field Survey Trip does meet the conditions of the general license so it is not necessary for participants to apply for any OFAC license individually. Nearly all people who travel to Cuba needs to purchase a Cuban Tourist Card. Participants traveling from the US will need the pink tourist card. Most airlines will help arrange for passengers to get this card. More information about this can be found here. Travelers to Cuba will need a valid passport with at least two blank pages.
Transfers: Transfers are included in the trip package. After arriving at either airport, participants will board a bus to the port where Avalon II is located. The port is in Jucaro, an approximately 2.5 hour bus ride from either airport.
IMPORTANT: U.S. credit and debit cards do not work in Cuba. Bring cash for emergencies and any incidentals that are not pre-paid (see additional fees above). The Cuban government requires that travelers declare cash amounts over $5,000 US. The currency in Cuba is the Cuban convertible peso (CUC). Travelers should note that the Government of Cuba charges a 10 percent fee for all U.S. dollar cash conversions to CUC; this does not apply to electronic transactions or cash conversions in other currencies.