Known as one of the best-preserved marine areas in the Caribbean, Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) is a marine park located on the southeastern portion of Cuba 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 so special.
*Please see the travel section at the bottom for important information concerning COVID protocols.*
*NOTE that your arrival must be in Havana on Friday March 11 and your depature from Havana must be on Sunday March 19 (unless you arrange for an additonal land-based excursion, more on that below). One night hotel stay on arrival and one prior to deapture from Havana will be required because of flight and ground transportation schedules. These hotel stays are not included in the price of the package. More information is below.
Project Focus: This purpose of this trip is to conduct fish surveys to support REEF's Volunteer Fish Survey Project. Click here to learn more about participating in fish surveys on a REEF Field Survey Trip!
Best Suited For: Divers. Divers must be at least 16 years old to dive in Cuba.
Accommodations: There are 12 staterooms onboard the Jardines Avalon II; two suites with a balcony and 10 cabins. All cabins except two have twin beds. Each stateroom has a private bathroom with shower and individual climate controls.
Diving: There will be 5 days of diving with 3-4 dives per day (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 temperature is 80 degrees Fahrenheit. A 3mm wetsuit is recommended.
Pricing, Inclusions, and Other Fees
$3,600 per diver based on double occupancy.
Your Package Includes: The trip package 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, tanks and weights.
REEF Program Fee: A REEF Program Fee of $300 will be added to each package to cover the cost of the group leader, seminar, and REEF survey materials. The REEF Program Fee applies to all divers and any attendee age 18 or older.
Other Fees Paid to REEF: All additional fees must be pre-paid including $200 per person inscription fee, $100 per person conservation fee, and $200 per person fee for transfers between Havana and Jucaro (subject to change once travel logistics and arrival airport details are finalized), and $170/person for mandatory supplemental insurance and COVID test administered onboard during trip (subject to change based on travel parameters during time of trip.) Optional Nitrox is available for $100 for the week - we assume everyone on the trip will dive Nitrox, please notify us if you will not. These fees will all be collected by REEF and paid to Avalon Cuban Diving Centers. Gear rental is available by request only and must be reserved and pre-paid in advance. It is highly recommended to bring your own dive gear rather than relying on rental gear in Cuba.
Additional Fees: The following costs are not included in the price paid to REEF:
- All flights and associated travel to/from Havana, Cuba.
- PCR Covid test administered within 72 hours prior to your depature to Cuba.
- Hotel stays in Havana on the front and back end of the trip (March 11 and March 19). Details will be provided with suggestions on where to stay. This is required because the ground transportation from Havana to the boat on the morning of March 12 departs very early, prior to any flights landing. And then at the end of the trip, arrival time back to Havana cannot be guaranteed in order to make an international flight on March 19. These two nights in Cuba will be included in the Humanitarian Program Itinerary provided to participants.
- Gratuities for the crew are not included in the cost of the charter and are at each individual's discretion. Please note that crew gratuities must be paid in cash as U.S. credit and debit cards are not accepted in Cuba.
- Any additional add-on land-based excursions before or after the REEF Trip. Details on options will be provided to participants. Partcipants planning any additional activities or nights spent in Cuba beyond the hotel nights on the front and back end of the REEF Trip and the time on the livebaord must secure a separate Humanitarian Program Itinerary as no extensions can be added to the one provided for the official REEF Trip portion.
To reserve your space, email trips@REEF.org or call 305-588-5869. A $500 per person deposit will be due to confirm your reservation. Visit our Trip Policies page for more information on deposit and payment schedules.
Cuba Travel Info and COVID Requirments
Travel and Dive Accident Insurance: Travel insurance and dive accident insurance is not included. REEF strongly recommends that each participant purchase adequate dive accident and travel insurance to protect you from unforeseen circumstances. Be sure to check travel insurance policies to confirm they cover travel to Cuba, many do not. There are specific companies that offer travel insurance specifically for Cuba and we suggest you do your research to confirm that your policy covers Cuba. In general, dive accident coverage does include Cuba.
How to Get There: Participants should make arrangements to fly into Havana International Airport (HAV), arriving anytime on Friday March 11. You will then overnight at a hotel (not included in the package) in Havana that night. The group will be transfered by charter bus early Saturday morning, March 12, directly to the port in Jucaro (pre-arranged transfer). At the end of the trip, the group will be tranfered back to Havana on Saturday, March 19. Arrival time back to Havana cannot be guarenteed, and therefore an overnight in Havana on Saturday, March 19 will be required (not included in the package). You may fly out of Havana any time on Sunday, March 20. **note that arrival/departure airport in Cuba is subject to change, travel logistics will be finalized about 90-days from departure**
Transfers: Avalon will transfer all guests from a few set locations in Havana (depending on where participants are staying the night before) to Jucaro, where they will board the boat. At the end of the trip, guests will be transferred back to Havana to set locations (depending on where participants are staying on the last night). Transfers are $100 per person one-way ($200 total) and will be paid to REEF.
COVID Proceedures and Requirements: This information is up to date as of 11/25/2021. This section will be updated if/when new information becomes available.
1. You MUST bring your proof of COVID vaccination with you during your trip in Cuba; it is suggested to have both hard copy and digital copy.
2. You need to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test (NOTE: rapid Antigen test is not allowed, test must be a PCR test), administered no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Cuba (must be viral PCR test; rapid Antigen or an antibody test is not valid).
3. Upon arrival in Cuba, participants mayl receive another PCR test. Travelers must also fill out a health declaration card, either in advance or upon arrival, depending on the airline.
4. Cuba requires that you carry medical insurance coverage in the event of testing positive for COVID while in the country. This insurance will be purchased through Avalon ($120). REEF will collect payment for this insurance about 60-days prior to departure. Other health insurance policies do not cover this.
5. In order to re-enter the US*, you will need a negative COVID test administered within one day of return (PCR or Antigen test allowed). You will be given a rapid Antigen test on the boat on Saturday morning prior to disembarkation. These results will be provided to you in hard copy format before your transfer to your departure airport. Current cost of this test is $50 USD, which will be collected by REEF about 60-days prior to departure. *if your final destination is somewhere other than the US, you may need to arrange for additional testing during the week, depending on your home country.*
Click here for more information about COVID test requirements to enter the USA.
Cuba Travel Considerations: Travelers to Cuba must carry two paper copies of each of the following:
• Negative COVID-19 PCR test administered no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Cuba (must be viral PCR test; antibody and antigen tests are not valid)
• Passport (hard copy plus two printed copies)
• Tourist card (provided by the airline you are flying on to Havana, see Passports, Documentation, and Visas section below)
• Travel voucher (provided by Avalon)
• Humanitarian Program Itinerary and certificate (provided by Avalon)
Passports, Documentation, and Visas: Travelers to Cuba will need a valid passport with at least two blank pages. 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 and it is often included in the cost of your airline ticket. If you are a US citizen traveling to Cuba, you may be asked for your category or reason for travel when booking flights, hotels, etc. You will be traveling under the GENERAL OFAC LICENSE for 515.575 Humanitarian Projects or Humanitarian and Environmental Projects.
IMPORTANT: U.S. credit and debit cards are not accepted 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.