Jardines del Rey - Video of Jardines del Rey in Cuba
Jardines del Rey (English: Gardens of the King) is an archipelago located off the northern coast of the island of Cuba, in the northern parts of the provinces of Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey. It is developed on the coral reef system that lines Cuba's shore, between the Atlantic and the Bay of Buena Vista and Bay of Jiguey. It extends for 200 km (120 mi) on a north-west to south-east direction, and is part of the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago.
The Jardines del Rey Airport is located on Cayo Coco. Additional access to Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo is offered by a causeway that connects this islands to mainland Cuba.
Of the many cays and islands that compose Jardinas del Rey, the most important are (from north to south):
Other islands include Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Paredón Grande and Cayo Cruz.
The islands were named in 1513 by Spanish conquistadors to honor king Ferdinand II of Aragon.
In the 16th century, they served as refuges for corsairs and pirates. Jacques de Sores is said to have used it as a base of operations for his attacks of Santiago de Cuba in 1554. In the 19th century, they were used as a point of entry for illegal slave ships after the slave trade was officially abolished.
Bagá Nature Park (Spanish: Parque Natural El Bagá) was established on December 29, 2002, reclaimed from the land of the former Cayo Coco Airport. Named for the Baga tree (árbol del pan), it spreads over 69 hectares of forests and lagoons on Cayo Coco as well as on neighboring cays.
It contains an interpretative centre, a walkway through a Bagá forest, a Taíno village and fauna exhibits (crocodiles, iguanas, flamingos and Cuban Hutias). The archipelago is a natural habitat for Caribbean Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber).