Join This 7 Day Snorkeling Liveaboard Trip to the Gardens of the Queen National Park
February 17-24, 2024
February 15-22, 2025
This fantastic Cuba snorkeling trip offers some of the very best snorkeling in the Caribbean. Join this snorkeler only group aboard a 135 foot world-class liveaboard yacht, that will explore the extraordinary reefs of the Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) National Park, in Cuba.
In this vibrant marine ecosystem you will find fields of gorgonian sea fans, the Caribbean’s healthiest Elkhorn Coral reefs, mangroves, channels, and extensive sea-grass beds, all of which host a range of marine life from large pelagics to small colorful reef fish and critters. Marine life highlights include schooling snappers and grunts, angelfish, reef squid, octopus, several species of reef and pelagic sharks, American saltwater crocodiles, and many different types of rays.
This trip is being run by our partner and friend Ben and his team. Based in the U.K., they are experts at running amazing excursions, and have a great appreciation for the underwater world.
This seven day liveaboard adventure utilizes the Jardines Aggressor II as your comfortable home base on the water. You will be part of a 22 snorkeler group plus two guides from Ben’s team.
In the evenings there will be discussions and presentations by your Cuban hosts about the successful ongoing conservation of this magnificent ecosystem.
Where Is the Gardens of the Queen National Park, Cuba?
The country of Cuba is located in the Caribbean Sea directly south of the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. And Jardines de la Reina (Gardens of the Queen) National Park is located 60 miles south of Cuba.
You will fly into Camaguey Airport (CMW). There are direct flights from North American hubs to Camaguey (CMW) Airport. Flights from the UK connect in North America and continue on to Cuba.
Can Americans Enter Cuba?
Yes, Americans can enter Cuba. The Jardines Aggressor II has partnered with the Oceans For Youth Foundation who have a specific license to operate “People-to-People Group” interactions. There are 12 categories by which Americans can enter Cuba, and this tour allows attendees to enter via the “People-to-People Group” category. In order to fall within the scope of this category, Oceans for Youth and the JAII have put together a fantastic program that involves not only snorkeling, but nightly lectures by very accomplished Cuban marine biologists who host daily lectures about the successful conservation efforts and natural history of the Jardines de la Reina.
The way it works is, once you make your booking, you’ll be given a link to fill out a guest information form with Aggressor. After you’ve input your information you’ll be given a PDF to download, this is your unique OFAC letter which is the official document saying that you are coming to Cuba to participate in a “People-to-People Group” tour. Other than that, all you need to do is get a Cuban Visa which you can either purchase online or at the Miami airport right next to the check in counter, and then you are good to go!
Please note you are only allowed to arrive in Cuba on the day of the liveaboard start date and you must leave on the final day. The permit does not allow extensions.
After your arrival, you will be transported by air-conditioned private charter bus to Jucaro where you will board the Jardines Aggressor II. Expect a 2.5 hour bus ride.
You will spend seven nights aboard the yacht and on the eighth day, you will wake up again in Jucaro, where you will get on that same bus back the Camaguey Airport, and you make your way home.
What Will This Cuba Snorkeling Trip Aboard the Aggressor Liveaboard Be Like?
The Gardens of the Queen National Park encompasses a chain of 250 pristine coral and mangrove islands, over 150 miles long. It is the largest protected marine park in the Caribbean, and since its creation in 1996 the fish populations have increased by up to 30%. Mangroves provide a healthy nursery for fish, and massive bait balls support big populations of larger fish and sharks. The park is widely considered to be the home of the healthiest reefs found in the Caribbean.
For six full days there will be four one-hour-long snorkel sessions per day, two after breakfast and two after lunch.
You can expect to see a range of underwater topography including fringing coral reefs where you will find colorful reef fish and critters along with large pelagics. The healthy reefs have both soft and hard corals including the beautiful purple sea fans. You will also explore the vibrant mangrove roots to see the fish nursery for yourself.
Something unique about this Cuba snorkeling trip is that you will have the opportunity to swim with pelagic sharks like silky sharks, various Caribbean reef shark species, and nurse sharks. Also, you will be able to get in and swim alongside American Saltwater Crocodiles. Each of these unique encounters is in a controlled environment and under the direct supervision of professionals who’ve spent years with these animals.
The Jardines Aggressor II
Your home for this trip will be the Jardines Aggressor II. It is a 135 foot liveaboard yacht with 12 guest cabins.
Each cabin has air-conditioning and a private bathroom with a shower. 10 Deluxe Cabins are on the lower deck and two Balcony Suites are on the main deck.
All meals are included and prepared by a chef. The menu offers a variety of international options and courses and can be altered for your dietary needs (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.). Soft drinks, beer, and wine are also included.
The yacht features a large lounge, a roomy sun deck, a bar, and a hot tub. There is satellite internet service available. The evening presentations will take place in the lounge, pictured near the top of the page.
Daily snorkels will be made either from the stern end of the main deck or from a smaller boat with ladders into the water.
Trip Details and How to Sign Up
We expect this trip to fill quickly. Your spot is reserved with your deposit. Contact Ben below for deposit instructions.
February 17-24, 2024 – Two double occupancy cabins available.
February 15-22, 2025 – Available.
$4200 US per person in Deluxe Stateroom (Twin/Double Share)
$4790 US per person in Balcony Suite (Twin/Double Share)
The initial deposit for this trip is 40% of the trip price. Final balance due 100 days before departure.
Individual travelers – Ben will happily find someone of the same sex for you to share a room with. If he cannot find you someone, no single supplement surcharge will apply.
- Return airport transfers
- 7 nights accommodation with full board (all meals)
- Complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks on board the Jardines Aggressor II
- Services of snorkel guide and boat skiff for multiple snorkeling excursions each day
- Nightly presentations discussing marine environment and conservation and the importance of the magnificent ecosystem, run by Cuban specialists
- International and/or domestic flights
- Snorkel equipment
- Travel insurance
- Cuba visa
- Port fee $240 US
- Fuel charge $150 US
- Conservation fee $120 US
- Return travel COVID testing $120 US
Ben and his U.K. based team are the organizers and leaders of this trip (more about them below). Galen and Nicole from TropicalSnorkeling.com are promoting this trip, but all sign ups, trip organization and payments are made to and managed by Ben’s team. TropicalSnorkeling.com does receive a referral fee in exchange for promoting the trip, at no extra cost to attendees.
How to Sign Up or Learn More?
Use the contact form below to contact Ben and his team to request more information about them and express your interest in signing up. They will get back to you shortly with full details.
More About Ben and Our Partnership
Ben (pictured with Nicole) is our friend and snorkeling trips partner. He and his team are based in the U.K. and have over 20 years of experience guiding in Asia and beyond. He has been running his own business since 2010 and is primarily offering guided snorkeling trips, but he started with diving. He began offering snorkeling specific trips because he was aware that snorkelers often get the short end of the stick when thrown in with divers. He and his team love the freedom and low stress of snorkeling, and are very aware of the different needs of snorkelers versus divers, in terms of the reef depth, and calm surface conditions needed.
From our experience going on one of his snorkeling trips we found it very well organized, the guides were fantastic and very helpful, and the underwater experiences were exceptional. Snorkeling groups really get the benefit of all of Ben and his guides’ years of experience in the water, and with different resorts and liveaboards.
All of his trips are small groups of 12-18 guests, or with a similar ratio of snorkelers to guides. And for where they visit, and how packed they are with experiences, they are affordable.
His company is licensed and insured. Barring extreme circumstances they do not cancel trips, and all funds are held in a trust until the trip is completed giving you 100% financial security if they or any of their suppliers go out of business before the trip happens.
Learn More About the Yacht
Completed Trip Dates
June 18-25, 2022
June 25 – July 2, 2022