Jardines de la Reina is an archipelago off the southern coast of Cuba. The country's second-largest archipelago is formed by over 250 virgin coral islands and numerous cays. The island group is one of Cuba's largest protected areas, a marine reserve and a national park.
Jardines de la Reina
Jardines de la Reina is an archipelago off Cuba's southern coast in the Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila. The island group is one of Cuba's largest protected areas, a marine reserve and a national park.
Cuba's second-largest archipelago comprises over 250 virgin coral islands and numerous cays. Part of the archipelago is also known as Laberinto de las Doce Leguas (The Labyrinth of the Twelve Leagues).
The archipelago is located in the Caribbean Sea, between the Gulf of Ana Maria, Guacanayabo, and the Caballones Channel. It extends in a general northwest-to-southeast direction, paralleling the Cuban coast for 150 km (93 mi) from Cayo Breton to Cayos Mordazo.
Other cays in the archipelago include Caguamas, Cayos Cinco Balas, Cayo Anclitas, Cayo Algodon Grande, Cayos Pingues, and Cayo Granada.
The archipelago is a popular destination for diving and sport fly-fishing. Only catch and release fly-fishing and a limited, well-regulated lobster fishery are allowed in the park, although many other fisheries occur outside the park limits.
Jardines de la Reina Marine Reserve and National Park
A marine reserve was established in 1996, covering a large swath of the archipelago. In 2010, Jardines de la Reina was established as a national park (Parque Nacional Jardines de la Reina).
Jardines de la Reina is a core area of the Buenavista Biosphere Reserve. It is one of Cuba's largest protected areas, with an area of 2,170 sq km (840 sq mi).
Species of fish found here include cubera snapper, bonefish, yellowfin grouper, black grouper, Atlantic goliath grouper, Strombus gigas (the large Caribbean conch), and whale shark.
Jardines de la Reina is one of Cuba's most popular scuba destinations. The underwater landscapes include canyons, pinnacles, and caves. Healthy mangroves, sponges, and black corals cover the reef. The archipelago also hosts numerous silky and Caribbean reef sharks.