Saltwater crocodiles are the highlight of a visit to the Gardens of the Queen
Located 60 miles off the southern coast of Cuba is Jardines de la Reina, or Gardens of the Queen, a national park encompassing a chain of 250 pristine coral and mangrove islands. Underwater topography ranges from fringing coral reefs to seagrass beds, and the area is widely considered to contain some of the healthiest reefs in the Caribbean, alongside abundant populations of shark species and resident saltwater crocodiles that know how to put on a show for the camera.
What may surprise you most about our latest Destination Portfolio is that the entire collection was captured by regular contributor Alex Lindbloom without actually scuba diving at all. Alex works as a photographer, videographer and tour guide for Snorkel Venture, a travel company that runs snorkel-only trips to some of the world’s best dive destinations, and he impressively demonstrates that you don’t need to go too deep or stay too long underwater to capture the best of what the region has to offer. There are plenty of vibrant coral reefs teeming with life in shallow water, and the “dives” with Caribbean reef sharks and silky sharks take place close to the surface, too. Inside the mangroves, the American crocodiles are found resting a few feet below the boat, and with care and a trained guide they can be approached in close proximity, allowing for once-in-a-lifetime encounters and epic photo opportunities. Whatever way you choose to navigate these sites, the Gardens of the Queen should be on the bucket list of every traveling underwater photographer.
Silky sharks are regularly encountered at the surface, allowing for photographic creativity
Mangrove forests are critical to the health of the reefs and marine habitat
A Caribbean reef shark cruises by at the surface
Large fan corals can be found in super shallow water, ideal for snorkeling trips
A large jellyfish framed by beautiful sunbeams
Sharks at the surface in gin-clear water
Mangroves provide a safe place to hide for various fish species
A large saltwater crocodile alongside the boat
Sun rays highlight healthy coral sponges at shallow depths
A Caribbean reef shark blocks the direct sunlight creating a perfect sunburst
Healthy coral reefs are a highlight of diving or snorkeling in Cuba
Shooting directly upwards gives a unique perspective of the boat and the belly of a croc
Southern stingrays patrol the seagrass searching for food
Sea fans so shallow that waves break directly above them
An eagle ray cruises over the seagrass
To see more of Alex’s work, check out his website, www.alexlindbloom.com, and his Instagram page. You can book a trip or learn more about Snorkel Venture at www.snorkelventure.com.
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