VIDEO: What Columbus Might Have Seen

Gardens of the Queen MapI’ve just returned from Cuba and before my wetsuit has finished drying, I am packing my bags again. Before I return to Cuba, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a short video I shot during my recent trip at Cuba’s spectacular Gardens of the Queen National Park (Jardines de la Reina), the country’s first marine park and the largest fully-protected marine reserve in the Caribbean. It may also be the healthiest marine ecosystem in the Caribbean, our closest glimpse at the pristine reefs and islands Columbus saw and named for Spain’s Queen Isabella 500 years ago.

I hope you enjoy the video, but it’s much better in person and I hope to be able to show you personally! Learn more and book your trip!

[youtube EzfeuRiS61Q 560 340]

Our program  launched in September 2013 and travelers’ reviews speak for themselves:

“The diving we were privileged to experience in The Gardens of the Queen was simply phenomenal. I’ve dived all over the Caribbean but have never seen the health and diversity in the total marine environment than I saw there.”

Mark J. Roberts, Founder
DiVentures – Omaha, Nebraska

“…an excellent combination of education, diving and culture. The interaction with the top Cuban Marine biologists and conservationists was very informative. The diving at Gardens of the Queen is the finest Caribbean diving…”

Richard Woulfe, Owner
RichTravels FAM and Special Clients 

Read all of the testimonials in full

We hope you’ll consider joining us in 2014. Space is extremely limited and our trips are filling up rapidly, so please get in touch soon if you’re interested. Only 1,000 divers per year are permitted access to this awe-inspiring  ecosystem. Submit your preferred dates using our booking request form.

Legal Travel to CubaOcean Doctor has launched the first-ever educational  trips to Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen. Under a license from the U.S. Treasury Department, our program allows us to take U.S. citizens and residents on these trips legally.


This unique educational journey examines the relationship of Cuban citizens with their natural environment, including burgeoning socioeconomic and cultural issues brought about by Cuba’s growing ecotourism industry. The exchange also represents an opportunity to explore with our Cuban colleagues important environmental issues that impact the marine waters that both nations share. Visitors will meet with Cuban scientists, resource managers, ecotourism professionals and community members.

Six days of this 11-day/10-night trip will be spent aboard a floating hotel or liveaboard dive vessel in the heart of Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen National Park, where much of the story lies underwater. U.S. visitors will accompany Cuban specialists and be able to scuba dive in one of the healthiest marine ecosystems remaining in the Caribbean. Visitors will spend four nights at a 5-star hotel in Havana, visiting a variety of Cuba institutions and meeting with a range of Cuban professionals and community members.

About the Gardens of the Queen 

gardens-of-the-queen_seaturtle1.jpgGardens of the Queen was named by Christopher Columbus to honor the Queen of Spain and the area remains as spectacularly beautiful and wild as when Columbus experienced it centuries ago. Today, it is among the healthiest marine ecosystems in the region.

The Gardens harbor abundant and healthy fish and shark population, stunning mangrove islands and shallow bays that teem with juvenile species, rare crocodiles, flamingos and other birds, iguanas and the jutia, a native rodent.

SPACE IS LIMITED: Cuban regulations strictly limit the number of visitors to this wilderness each year. Our trips run throughout the year based on demand and availability. Submit your preferred dates using our booking request form.

Your Participation Supports Our Work 

In addition to helping advance environmental education, one of Ocean Doctor’s principal areas of focus, your participation in this program helps support Ocean Doctor’s Cuba Conservancy Program.This program’s mission is to establish sustained collaboration between Cuba and the U.S. to:

  • ensure enduring, locally-supported marine research and conservation programs in Cuba.
  • contribute to major advances in the scientific understanding of Cuba’s natural resources.
  • achieve meaningful, long-lasting conservation for Cuba’s marine ecosystems and shared ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean.
  • forge long-term collaborative relationships with our Cuban colleagues.
  • help train the next generation of Cuban marine scientists.

We committed to ensuring that this program sets the best possible examples for responsible tourism practices and sustainability. We’re happy to be partnering with Avalon Cuban Diving Services which runs the only diving operation at Gardens of the Queen, along with other diving centers throughout Cuba. Avalon runs a professional, low-impact operation with an emphasis on conservation and safety.

You can download our flyer here and find much more information on our web site at We look forward to your participation in this unique program!



David E. Guggenheim, Ph.D.
President, Ocean Doctor
Director, Cuba Conservancy

and the team at

Avalon Cuban Diving Centers

Questions? Our international team can best answer your questions via email. Please submit your question at submit your question and we’ll reply as soon as we can. You may also email us at: or call us at +1 (202) 695-2550. If you haven’t already visited our Gardens of the Queen Travel Page, many of your questions can be answered there: (Be sure to read the FAQ Section.)

Support Our Work.  Please consider a tax-deductibe donation to Ocean Doctor to support our work in Cuba and around the world to protect and restore our oceans. Thank you!

Ocean Doctor is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Your donation is secure and tax-deductible in the U.S.
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