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I'm going to panama in Feb. and will be staying at the Royal Decameron Beach resort. It is on the south side (pacifac) about 2 1/2 hours from Panama city. I am having a hard time finding out much about diving in Panama and so I am thinking maybe the sport is just in it's infancy there. I've read the thread about Coiba island and that certainly didn't sound promising!! Maybe I should count on just take my mask and snorkel!! deb
Yes. I have not been to the Panama N. side (Caribbean) but can recommend the diving at Isla Coiba in the Pacific. See May 2007 UNDERCURRENT feature story for a detailed report. Be aware that conditions (currents and viz) can be variable. Quantity of sea life larger than in Caribbean, and interesting if you usually dive the Caribbean to see all the cousins of your reef friends.
Ya, Coiba is where its at in Panama. I dove out of Bocas del Toro and Portabelo last year. Both were ok, but not great. The history at Portabelo made it pretty interesting. The currents and lack of vis in some spots made it challenging but it was good. I really wish I had made it to Coiba.
I went diving in Bocas del Toro (Caribbean side) in December and was very impressed. The fish life wasn't great (probably overfished by the indigenous Indians), but the reefs were gorgeous and the non-fish critters were prolific. I've dived throughout the Caribbean but have never seen feather duster worms as big as in Bocas (they're freaks of nature). Huge assortment of plate corals, gazillions of brittle stars, lots of octopus & eels made for some great dives. Viz was only about 50 feet (most dives) but December is apparently part of one of their two rainy seasons so there was sediment that washed into the ocean.
I just came back from Panama yesterday, and I dove on Saturday in Portobello (Caribbean side). Did a reef dive and a bit of a wreck dive (crashed plane). Wildlife was disappointing, but overall were pretty good dives.
Dove with Scuba Panama (who owns an island in Portobello, warning though... its a looong bus ride up there.