The Jardines de la Reina archipelago consists of 3000 sq km of cays and mangroves along the south coasts of the provinces of Ciego de Avila, Camagüey and Las Tunas.
Unapproachable for years, because they were Fidel Castro’s favourite fishing spot, these islands have now been declared a natural park protecting birds, iguanas, turtles and loads of fish.
The archipelago of virgin cays with empty beaches is uninhabited and generally visited only by liveaboard dive boats and fly fishermen. Dive boats leave from Júcaro on the coast of Ciego de Avila, where Marlin also operates the largest fly-fishing fleet in the country. Fishing and diving is promoted by Avalon, which has liveaboard boats and offers complete packages for several days of dedicated diving or fishing. It also has a small floating hotel, Hotel Tortuga.
There are about 40 dive sites along the southwest side of the archipelago. The reef runs parallel to the shore and usually drops down in three ‘steps’: the first at 10-15 m, very exposed to the surf; a second at 20 m on a sandy bottom, and a third that starts at 40-45 m and drops downward. You will find all the reef fishes here including tarpons. The sea is often rough.