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: 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. $200/person round-trip transfer from Havana to port in Jucaro. $200/person 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: *Please note this information is based on travel suggestions provided by Avalon in March 2021. As flight schedules change, this information will be updated.* Participants should make arrangements to fly into Havana International Airport (HAV.) The suggested route is to fly into Havana from Miami (MIA) via American Airlines on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 11, arriving by 11am. Everyone will be transfered as a group directly to the port in Jucaro. At the end of the trip, you may fly out of Havana any time after 5pm on Saturday, Dec. 18. Depending on flight schedules, it may be necessary to stay overnight before or after the trip in Miami.
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. More information about this can be found here. 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 the airport in Havana to Jucaro, where they will board the boat. At the end of the trip, guests will be transferred back to Havana for departure. Transfers are $100 per person one-way ($200 total) and will be paid to REEF.
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 3/23/21. 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:
• Negative COVID-19 PCR test administered no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Cuba (must be viral PCR test; antibody test is not valid)
• Passport (hard copy plus two printed copies)
• Tourist card (see Passports, Documentation, and Visas section above)
• Travel voucher (provided by Avalon)
• Humanitarian program itinerary and certificate (provided by Avalon)
Upon arrival in Havana, participants will receive another PCR test. Travelers must also fill out a health declaration card, either in advance or upon arrival, depending on the airline. 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 5 hour ride. The cost for the transfer to/from Havana airport to Jucaro port is $200 per person, paid with the final payment. (See Other Costs Paid to REEF section above.)
All persons entering the US must present proof of a negative COVID PCR test administered no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. Avalon has arranged for medical teams to administer the test on Thursday of the trip. The current cost for the test is $200 per person, and will be pre-paid to REEF prior to the trip. A hard copy of test results will be given to all participants for re-entry into the US. Click here for more information about test requirements to enter the USA.