Jardines de la Reina, Cuba November 2024

Alex Jardine will be leading a hosted group to the expansive saltwater flats of Jardines de la Reina in Cuba in search of bonefish, permit and tarpon. The trip will be aboard the exclusive liveaboard vessel, Jardines Avalon Fleet II.

Jardines de la Reina, Cuba, Aardvark McLeod

Jardines de la Reina, Cuba

Named the Queen’s Gardens by Christopher Columbus, the Jardines de la Reina is a pristine chain of islands that run more than one hundred miles along Cuba’s south-eastern coast. This vast marine park, bigger in size than the Florida Keys, is ideal for fly anglers who wish to live and experience fishing from dawn till dusk aboard a series of purpose built liveaboard vessels.

La Tortuga, Jardines de La Reina, Cuba, Aardvark McLeod

The average sized bonefish is perhaps a solid three to five pounds, but there are opportunities for fish in the seven to ten pound class every day. The huge variety of species available here is an added bonus with everything from mutton snapper on the flats to wahoo and giant Cubera snapper on the drop offs. The flats environment here is a fantastic combination of wadable white sand and turtle grass flats that are accessed by skiff.

Tarpon are prolific with many “baby” tarpon – fish in the ten to 40lb class in the channels. On the flats the average size grows to 45-80lb with some specimens growing to 120-130lb in the deep ocean channel. Permit are also found in good numbers, and many of these fish will be in the 20 to 30lb class, with a few well over 30lb.

La Tortuga, Jardines de La Reina, Cuba, Aardvark McLeod

For anglers that land a permit, there is an excellent chance of completing a Grand Slam the same day. Tarpon can be found at just about any time and tide level as can bonefish. Over the years, there have been numerous Grand Slams caught by fly fishermen. Fishing hours are totally at the discretion of the clients, unlike many other lodges.

The fishing day normally begins with breakfast at 0700 and departing for fishing from 0745 onward. Lunch can be taken back at the mothership or on the skiff and is at the angler’s discretion. One of the main joys of fishing here is the sunset hour. Often it is calm, and schools of tailing and laid up bones can be seen hundreds of yards away, their golden tails glistening in the light of the falling sun. This is the time that most operations are heading back to the lodge so this magical witching hour is missed.

The Accommodation – Jardines Avalon Fleet II

Jardines de la Reina, Cuba Fly Fishing, Jardines Avalon Fleet II, Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit

The hosted trip will be based from the exclusive-use Jardines Avalon Fleet II. JA-FII is a 130 foot vessel, larger than JA-FI, which features ten air-conditioned state rooms with private bathrooms. Like JA-FI, it is an intimate, comfortable and stylishly designed vessel. There is a spacious and comfortable combination lounge, dining room and bar area on the boat deck along with a jacuzzi.

Jardines de la Reina, Cuba Fly Fishing, Jardines Avalon IV, Bonefish, Tarpon, Permit

The food aboard all of the Avalon vessels is a wonderful selection of Cuban cuisine, grilled fresh seafood and vegetables along with many international delights. The chefs are well versed in many different styles and will be sure to amaze you during your stay aboard. In addition there is a full bar with a selection of Cuban beers and rum, international wines, and a variety of spirits. The attentive crew will be there to take care of your every need and make sure you have a wonderful trip.

Why Alex wants to visit this destination:

Alex visited the JDR flats in 2022, and after a spectacular trip he was ready to head back almost immediately. Few Caribbean destinations are more synonymous with Grand Slams than the flats of Cuba.

One of Alex’s great enjoyments in fly fishing is stalking fish in shallow clear water, this is exactly what Jardines de la Reina offers. Whilst the fishing is predominantly from the skiffs due to the soft marly flats, opportunities for bonefish, tarpon and permit were numerous making it fun to fish as a team in the boat.

Aside from the fishing, life on the liveaboard boats is a breath of fresh air. The crew are fantastic and make your stay a joy from start to finish, and there are few places better to pass the time with a cold mojito in hand.

For those looking for a trip extension, it is possible to build an itinerary to include a stay in the city of Old Havana and to see the unique architecture and wonderful 1950s cars that are still kept in working order to this day.

Trip Itinerary:

Friday 1st November: Arrive in Toronto and overnight.

Saturday 2nd November: Fly to Cayo Coco, road transfer to Jucaro, board Jardines Avalon Fleet II.

Sunday 3rd November to Friday 8th November: Five full and one half days fishing Jardines de la Reina.

Saturday 9th November: Disembark JA-FII, road transfer to Cayo Coco. Depart Cayo Coco.

This is a great week for experienced and first time saltwater flats anglers with a range of species to target from a variety of saltwater flats.

See Alex’s article on Grand Slam fishing at Jardines de la Reina in the spring issue of H2O Magazine UK.

For more information and an itinerary please contact Alex Jardine or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.