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Dive Review of Jardines Aggressor in
Cuba/Gardens of the Queen

 
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Jardines Aggressor: "Diving Cuba's Gardens of the Queen", May, 2016,

by Tom Baker, CA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 8 Helpful votes). Report 8954 has 3 Helpful votes.

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 For those of us who've been diving for a long time, this trip to the famous Jardines de la Reina was an exciting trip back in time, to when the Caribbean itself was healthy. The "inverted pyramid" trophic structure signifying healthy coral ecosystems was evident everywhere, with sharks and lots of big groupers, barracudas, and other top predators accounting for a large portion of the marine biomass. There were many sharks and groupers on almost every dive. There were clouds of baitfish, and colorful reef fish in all directions. We also saw some eagle rays, which was great! We had many encounters with green and loggerhead turtles, and many divers saw nurse sharks. The corals included lots of pillar coral, elkhorn, and staghorn (though this only in some places), which I have not seen since the 1980's. There were also lots of huge brain corals, sea fans, and barrel- and vase sponges. Lots of little creatures hid in the coral. Octopuses were seen day and night, as were some huge southern rays.

We went under the auspices of the Cuban Oceans for Youth Foundation, which in addition to a week on the liveaboard included two nights and a day and a half in Havana. We had some excellent meals in Havana, toured the harbor including the El Morro Castle, Old Town, and my wife and I slipped off to visit Hemingway's home in a suburb, which was amazing. On our first morning in Havana, there was a presentation in a conference room in the hotel on Cuba's Marine Biology and Fisheries, and on its Conservation plan. The talk was given by a semi-retired former Head of the Fisheries Commission, who had played a big role in protecting the reefs we dove!

The staff and crew on the boat were fantastic, as were our dive guides. Our room was very nice, with a comfortable Queen bed. Bathroom was spacious, clean, and functioned perfectly. The meals were huge and delicious, and beer and wine was included.The Aggressor was a bit narrow, so it tended to roll a bit on the 5 hour crossing from Jucaro on the mainland to the reefs, but nothing too bad.

We plan to go back very soon, though we want to visit Komodo and Fiji first. So many dive destinations, so little time! But Cuba is not to be missed, and the sooner you go, the better!!
Websites Jardines Aggressor   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving California, Red Sea, Raja Ampat, Galapagos, NY/NJ Wrecks, Cayman, Great Barrier Reef, Lord Howe Island, Hawaii, French Polynesia, Maldives, Belize, BVI, Roatan, Bonaire, etc.
Closest Airport Havana Getting There We flew via Panama City on COPA Airlines, which was excellent. Direct flights from US coming soon!

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, cloudy Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 86-86°F / 30-30°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 50-80 Ft/ 15-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limits were usually 110 fsw. Dive times were an hour.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments There was a large camera table and lower shelves on the dive deck, but people put a lot of wet stuff there, which made it unsuitable for changing lenses, ports, etc. I took mine into the main salon for that. I recharged batteries in our cabin. But camera storage was roomy and secure. There was even an air gun with which you could blow water off the housing, but heedless people often blew it onto other peoples equipment!
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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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