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Dive Review of La Buga Diving/Playa Tortuga Hotel in
Panama

La Buga Diving/Playa Tortuga Hotel, Sep, 2010,

by Stanley Zuk, NY, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 5682.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Caymans, Curacao, Bonaire, Fiji, Cook Islands, Bora Bora, Vanuatu, Mauritius, Seychelles, Malaysia, Palau, Yap, Rangiroa, Fakarava, Toau, Thailand, Maldives, Zanzibar, etc.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 78 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 10 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 1 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity 1 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 2 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments After many years of not diving in the Caribbean, I wanted to try it again. I didn't want to repeat the same good places, like Bonaire and Caymans, but instead I've decided to go to a new places, and chose Panama. Most Caribbean diving is done around Bocas del Toro islands, where in Bocas town you may choose to dive with one of the three dive operators. I was diving with La Buga divers, very nice small operator, very nice staff, good service and attitude. The only problem is that most of the pelagics are fished out, and overfishing destroyed Bocas del Toro. On some dives I could only see a few fish, or a school of baby blue tangs, and that was it. Visibility is not the greatest in Bocas, but it wouldn't really matter much, if there was something to see underwater. Unfortunately most of the dive sites are totally dead, and even snorkeling is not rewarding. Only one time we encountered one big nurse shark in sea grass when diving. Diving in caves on the northern side of Bastimentos island was equally dead, with two lion fish, and a couple of lobsters hidden in the rocks. In addition there were some lobster shells on the sandy bottom of this dive site reminding of the local fishermen. If you decide to dive in the Caribbean again, go to a good spot, like Bonaire for instance, or somewhere known for good diving. Going for diving in Panama will be just a waste of time. Panama has great jungle tours, very nice beaches in Bocas del Toro. Great chain of islands in San Blas with Kuna Yala Indians, but diving in Panama's Caribbean is dead. When I traveled in San Blas archipelago, it was relatively a bit better than Bocas del Toro, but still not worth the effort. San Blas islands are gorgeous if you are one beautiful vacation, but not for diving. It is sad, that Panama's government doesn't do anything to protect these areas, and gradually destroys them for ever, due to lack of environmental protection.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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