Cuba Dive Trip ~ October 2023

Amanda Krugen   Nov 04, 2023

In the spring of 2023 I invested in a quality underwater camera set up. Underwater photography has always been one of my interests and ultimately a goal to learn. Prior to my new set up I had tinkered with other set-ups, but never really gotten into it full swing. My most recent purchase was an OM Systems (formerly Olympus) OM-1 with a variety of accessories, lenses, and Nauticam housing. I took it on a few trips and had some significant struggles and challenges so I decided to seek out an underwater photography class or clinic. A brief search online led me to find a week long photography clinic in Cuba, it took all of about 5 minutes to make the decision to sign up.


Two months later…


I hopped on a plane and headed for Cuba to spend a week in Jardines de la Reina, an archipelago in the southern part of Cuba. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus to honor the Queen of Spain, Isabella I of Castile. The marine park is one of Cuba’s largest protected areas covering 840 square miles and as of 2010, it is officially a National Park. The diving is quite spectacular with the biggest populations of Sharks, Snappers, and Groupers. As an aspiring photographer, it was an underwater paradise!

After arriving at the Camaguey Airport, we had a few hour long drive to Juraco Port where we boarded the live aboard and set off on our 50 mile journey to Jardines de la Reina. We spent the night getting a tour of the vessel, formulating a dive plan, and preparing our camera equipment. The next day we set off on our first dives. Jumping into the 85 degree blue water felt so great! Everyone was excited to learn their cameras and the very first dive did not disappoint. There was plenty of life to take photos of and it gave us all the opportunity to work out any glitches/settings in our cameras and still walk away with some photos.

The days to follow brought many more great dives, there was no shortage of groupers and sharks on every single dive. The photography side of things started to become much easier after enough repetition with the biggest challenge being the sharks and groupers photo-bombing all of my shots. In between dives the boat crews would give us snacks, hot chocolate, and warm dry towels. The crew really helped make the trip extra fun, they danced and had music playing throughout the week with guests joining in on the fun. The meals on the boat were top notch, with different themes each night for dinner. My personal favorites were Italian night and of course, Cuban night! 

We spent many afternoons and evenings doing our photography clinics and photo/video reviews. We received tons of education on some of the best camera settings, programs for editing, and photo composition. Every day we applied the new knowledge, constantly improving our work. Most of our dives were around 70’ depth and lasted over an hour. The dive sites offered quite a bit of life and some really neat swim-throughs. I was surprised by how much life there was in comparison to some other places I’ve been in the Caribbean. Friends that have been there say it’s quite pristine, they were right! Throughout the dives I focused primarily on photography, however did take the opportunity to capture a plethora of video footage while there. With a total of 21 dives an over 22 hours underwater, I have plenty to keep me busy with editing for quite a while.

As the trip came to an end we all had a celebratory meal and began to pack for an early morning departure back to Camaguey for our flights out. Overall, I had a spectacular time and walked away with tons of knowledge and experience on my new camera system. It’s been a couple weeks and I am still going through video and photos. Although I have much to learn, this trip gave me a great start on my underwater photography journey. Now that I finally figured out my camera system, I am so stoked to go on the next adventure and really start capturing and documenting the diving!

I highly recommend going to Cuba if you ever get the chance, you won’t regret it!