Jardines de la Reina Scuba Diving, Cuba, Jun. 10-16, 2017

Tony Crocker

Staff member
Liz and I hoped to find an organized trip to Cuba including scuba diving, and when we went to the Long Beach Scuba Show in May we were in luck. With the opening of travel to Cuba the Aggressor scuba company brought in one liveaboard awhile ago and was bringing in a new one in June. The initial two trips on the new boat were offered at half price due to the short notice, so we signed up.

The Jardines de la Reina islands are about 50 miles off the south coast of Cuba.

It's a 5 hour bus ride from Havana to the port. The sponsor of the trip was Oceans for Youth, which trains Cuban divers. We visited their boat briefly.

Our boat, Jardines Aggressor II:

It was a nice boat, wider than the other Aggressor and even had a hot tub on the top deck. There are two Italian liveaboards which have been operating in Cuba since well before the 2014 opening with the U.S. Many of the Cuban crew had worked on those boats. There was no sign of inexperience on this trip in any way. The all Cuban crew was every bit as knowledgeable as other liveaboards Liz and I have seen in Australia and Indonesia.

A few people came just for the diving but most of us had a pretrip with 2 nights and an all day tour in Havana. Our 30 year old bus guide in Havana mentioned that she had never set foot on a boat as the government severely restricts access to boats. So our guides were undoubtedly fortunate to get into a program for dive training. I'll post a separate TR for our time in Havana, which included 3 days on our own as well as the day with the package tour.

Since Cuba has been so isolated the diving is among the more pristine locations of the Caribbean. There are more large groupers that we have seen anywhere else. Here's one circulating not far under the boat.

This one has mouth open for cleaning.

Lobster in barrel coral:

We were served lobster at two of the dinners on the boat.

Nurse shark on sand:

Startled stingray leaving the sand:

Many of the groupers were oblivious. I got behind this one for one of Liz' pics.

Pair of remora:

They typically attach that flat spot on their heads to a shark or other large fish.

School of tarpon:

Liz and a reef shark:

Schooling reef fish:

Moray eel:

Shrimp in barrel coral:


Grouper and remora:

We had a couple of non-dive stops. On this island were many iguana and hutia (endemic rodent).

There were also some hermit crabs.

There is also a local crocodile which has been habituated to visiting snorkelers.