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!
*Please see the travel section at the bottom for important information concerning the flight itinerary and COVID protocols.
Trip Type: Fish Survey - click here to learn more!
Pricing: $4,000 per diver based on double occupancy in a deluxe stateroom.
Accommodations: Participants will be accommodated in a deluxe stateroom aboard the Jardines Avalon II liveaboard. Most rooms have two separate twin beds that are able to be converted into one queen bed. 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 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, 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. $220/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. 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.
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: We will be traveling to Cuba via Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ). Participants should make arrangements to fly into Toronto arriving on Friday, Dec. 10 and departing on or after Sunday, Dec. 19. Participants shoud also book a hotel in Toronto for the nights of Friday, Dec. 10 and Saturday, Dec. 18. Two nearby options include the Sheraton Gateway Hotel attached to terminal 3 at YYZ, or the ALT Hotel, which is accessible via the airport’s free terminal link train. More info is available here.
It is important for the entire group to travel to Cuba on the same flight. All participants should book the following flight from Toronto to Cayo Coco, Cuba:
Dec. 11 – Sunwing WG 602 departing Toronto (YYZ) at 6:50am, arriving Cayo Coco, Cuba (CCC) at 9:50am
Dec. 18 – Sunwing WG 603 departing Cayo Coco (CCC) at 11:20am, arriving Toronto (YYZ) at 2:50pm
To travel through Canada as a fully vaccinated traveler, you will need/to do the following within 72 hours of your trip:
1. Visit the ArriveCan portal.
2. Enter your personal and travel information.
3. Submit a copy of your vaccination card to ArriveCan and bring this proof of vaccination with you during your travels.
4. Submit a quarantine plan as requested. This should be the address of the hotel that you are overnighting in Canada prior to your trip in Cuba.
5. Take a molecular PCR test (within 72 hours of your scheduled departure time of your last direct flight to Canada) and bring the results with you in hard copy or digital format. *Rapid/antigen tests not permitted. This test should be scheduled at a time that is also within 72 hours of your arrival in Cuba. Otherwise, you may need to schedule two tests. One within 72 hours of your final leg to enter Canada, and one within 72 hours of your arrival in Cuba.
6. Once you submit the required information into ArriveCAN, a receipt will be generated, which you must bring with you in hard or electronic format.
While in Cuba/to re-enter Canada:
1. You MUST bring your proof of vaccination with you during your trip in Cuba; it is suggested to have both hard copy and digital copy.
2. Bring a smartphone, tablet or laptop that will allow you to access Wi-FI and use the ArriveCan portal. Verify prior to your travels that this device can log in and support the requirements of utilizing the ArriveCan portal since you must use it to facilitate your return to Canada.
3. You will be given a PCR test on Thursday of our trip. These results will be provided to you in hard copy format by Saturday morning at the latest as you disembark your destination for transfer to your departure airport.
4. On the day of your departure from Cuba back to Canada, you will be taken to the airport at least three hours prior to the time of you flight departure. At the airport you will be able to access internet so you may re-enter the required information into the ArriveCAN portal.
5. Follow the guidelines listed in Section II above to fill out and submit the required information in the ArriveCAN portal to ensure your ease of entry to Canada.
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 Canada will receive a tourist card from Sunwing Airlines during the flight. 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.
Transfers: Avalon will transfer all guests immediately from Cayo Coco to Jucaro, where they will board the boat. At the end of the trip, guests will be transferred back to Cayo Coco for departure.
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.
COVID Travel Considerations: This information is up to date as of 12/3/2021. This section will be continuously updated if/when new information becomes available.
Travelers to Cuba must carry two paper copies of each of the following:
• COVID Vaccination card showing that you are fully vaccinated
• Passport (hard copy plus two printed copies)
• Tourist card (see Passports, Documentation, and Visas section above, will be provided by Sunwing during fllight)
• Travel voucher (provided by Avalon, will be emailed by REEF a few days before departure)
• Humanitarian program itinerary and certificate (provided by Avalon, will be emailed by REEF a few days before departure)
See this page for up to date information on travel in to Cuba.
Prior to arriving in Cuba, within 72 hoours of arrival, travelers must fill out a travel documents online here. After clearing customs, a CUBATUR representative will meet the group in baggage claim to direct them to the transfer vehicle. Once everyone is onboard, the vehicle will depart for Jucaro port, a 2 hour ride.
For your return back to Canada and ultimately the US, all persons entering Canada must provide proof of negative COVID PCR test administered no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. All persons entering the US must present proof of a negative COVID antigent test administered no more than one day (as of Dec 6 2021, was previously 72 hours) prior to arrival. Avalon has arranged for medical teams to administer the PCR test on Thursday of the trip, and then the rapid antigen test on Saturday morning Dec 18 prior to disembarkation). All foreign visitors to Cuba must carry mandatory travel health insurance. The cost of the PCR COVID testing ($100, health insurance ($120), and Antigen COVID test ($50) will be collected by REEF prior to the trip. A hard copy of test results will be given to all participants for re-entry into Canada and the US. Click here for more information about test requirements to enter the USA.
*Note that it is highly suggested to tip the testing doctor providing the COVID tests during the trip (avg 20 EURO or 25 CAD).