Jardines de la Reina

Because of Cuba’s lengthy isolation and protection from tourism, many of its treasures have remained in pristine condition, just as nature intended. The Jardines de la Reina, a line of islets and mangrove cays located about 70 kilometres off Cuba’s south coast, is a prime example of this. They are collectively known as Cuba’s Coral Garden, and if you prefer diving or snorkelling, they should be at the top of your vacation list. The coral and fish here are breathtakingly gorgeous and undisturbed, giving hope to marine conservationists.

The islands are a network of mangrove waterways, beaches, and lagoons, with some fascinating bird, iguana, and rodent species to be found on land. The appellation Jardines de la Reina, or ‘Gardens of the Queen,’ was given to the underwater life. Elkhorn corals, which are rare and colourful, can be found in abundance, surrounded by shoals of fish ranging from spectacular rays to enormous grouper, tarpon, barracuda, and a variety of reef sharks. Visitors and divers are now restricted, and must remain so if the Jardines de la Reina are to remain a pristine haven for Caribbean marine species.

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