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Posted July 20, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Vacation

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Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), which was discovered by Admiral Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the so-called New World, is an excellent destination for nature tourism, featuring unique offers for diving enthusiasts.

Coral reefs of breathtaking beauty can be found off the island’s south coast, in addition to the natural attractions of the Punta Frances Marine Park.

Precisely, that region holds a dive zone linked to the Hotel El Colony, with a six-kilometer beach strip that runs from Punta Pedestales to Punta Frances. The area features a one-of-a-kind marine environment.

Diving enthusiasts can practice that nautical sport in 56 dive sites, many of which are inhabited by large colonies of corals and sponges, in addition to having many underwater caves, passageways and tunnels.

During the underwater tours, divers are accompanied by a varied marine fauna, including shads, horse mackerels, wreck fish and even barracudas. Sharks are seldom spotted in the area.

Experts highlight the spectacular beauty of such dive sites as Pared de Coral Negro (Black Coral Wall), Tnel del Amor (Love Tunnel), Cueva Azul (Blue Cave), El Pasaje Escondido (The Hidden Passageway), Cueva de los Sbalos (The Shads’ Cave), Piedra de Coral (Coral Rock), El Salto (The Waterfall), Ancla del Pirata (The Pirate’s Anchor), Paraso de las Levisas (Levisas’ Paradise) and Pequeo Reino (Small Kingdom).

Other attractive dive sites are Barcos Hundidos (Sunken Ships), where divers can enjoy a breathtaking view of sunken ships inhabited by large schools of fish 6-9 meters deep.

The area holds the cargo ship Jibacoa and the warship Esparta (Sparta), which were sunk two decades ago and have become a safe haven for a wide range of multicolor corals, algae, sponges and crustaceans.

In addition, Los Indios (The Indians) is characterized by vertical coral walls and hills, while the zone known as Fuera de Lmite (Out of Limit), the coral barrier runs from the coast to an area where it is 15 meters deep.

There is a diving center in Ensenada de Siguanea, 24 kilometers from the dive sites. The center organizes traditional diving programs twice a day, including a pleasant stopover at a restaurant built on the water.

Internationally-certified instructors guarantee divers’ safety. The center is equipped with hyperbaric chambers and has a staff of specialized physicians.

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