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Dive Review of La Buga Diving/Playa Tortuga Hotel in

September, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Stanley Zuk, NY, US
Sr. Reviewer   (11 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 5682
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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

sunny, dry  
calm, no currents  
Water Temp
78   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
10   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
1 stars
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
2 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
2 stars   
1 stars    
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
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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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