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Dive Review of Avalon Cuba Diving Center/Gerogiana in
Cuba/Gardens of the Queen

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Avalon Cuba Diving Center/Gerogiana: "Cuba's Sharks and Lion Fish", Jan, 2016,

by James Filipczak, MD, US (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 8807 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Four of us hooked up with Discovery Diving for five days under water in the Gardens of the Queen off the southern coast of Cuba. Discovery was granted a scientific license for us to research Lion Fish population and behavior. We tripped over on a charter flight to Havana, spent New Year’s Eve regaling with the street and bar crowds, and had another day in training seminars. Six hours of travel to the port by bus still meant five hours cruising on Georgiana, our live-aboard, to our first mooring near the famous Tortuga floating hotel in the midst of the queen’s gardens – an area of 600 or so square miles. The gardens are one of Avalon Cuba Diving Center’s several operations on the north and south coasts of the island. Avalon is jointly owned by a private company and the Cuban government (51% Cuban); the dive and boat staff are all government employees. They’re well trained, efficient, accommodating, and very friendly - most speak rudimentary English. Brush up on your Spanish before you depart. Georgiana moored in three different locations in the mangrove channels over the five days. Reef dives were from tenders, powered by twin 150 hp outboards, capable of 42 knots, weaving madly through the mangroves after dives. Cylinder and gear stowage easily accommodated our twelve divers. No provision is made for cameras. The tender’s dive ladders proved sturdy and easy to use; two dive guides and boat captain providing help on entries and exits. Briefings were rudimentary, covering likely animal sightings, general terrain, current, and depth (never exceeding 33 meters). Night dives were unavailable as the tenders would have difficulty negotiating the mangrove channels. A guide always led the group while another trailed. Of the 17 dives available, all at different sites, only one was not accompanied by between 4-20 Caribbean or Silky sharks, usually lured by fish heads in an enclosed box. Feeding frenzies proved fairly tame. The lead guide proved proficient at putting the Silkies in a trance, holding them vertical in the water column, nose in his hand. Most of our divers found the coral and sponge life just a cut above Caribbean standards and invertebrates under-populated. Schooling fishes were abundant and the numbers of larger specimens, such a Cubera Snappers and Groupers (including a couple of Goliaths), were well represented on the reefs. We were treated to a few Green Sea Turtles and a solitary White Spotted Eagle Ray; but of those infamous Lion Fish, almost a bust. Over 12 divers and 17 reef dives, fewer than 20 of the invasives were counted. Our dive guides routinely speared solitary Lion Fish and offered them to the reef sharks which, as often as not, seemed irritated and spit them out before consumption. Dive staff said low numbers on the reefs was typical, despite our being treated to Lion Fish autopsies (stomachs full of young reef species) and daily Lion Fish ceviche at dinners. Almost daily lobster too. Both the result of semi-husbandry operations by Avalon staff in the mangrove shallows. Plus all of this, our moorings abounded with small crocs that begged us for snacks and posed for great photos. With food and accommodations also just great, who could ask for more – except for more of our target, the elusive Lion Fish?

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Coastal Atlantic and Florida, All Caribbean, Leewards and Windwards, Eastern Pacific of Central America, South America
Closest Airport Havana Getting There American flies a charter service from Miami, at high cost.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 79-82°F / 26-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-100 Ft/ 18-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limited to about 33 meters; most dives between 20 and 25 meters till reaching the reef top.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 1 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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