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Dive Review of MV Coral Star in
Panama/Isla de Coiba

MV Coral Star, Apr, 2004,

by Tracy Johnson, CA, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports). Report 1363.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving St. Lucia, Turks & Caicos, Bonaire, Curacao, Martinique, Cozumel, Florida, Bahamas, Hawaii, & more
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas surge, currents
Water Temp 66 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 20 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions [Most dives are on pinacles and led by a divemaster. Max depth 125.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Camera table availble on second deck, but most of the time I used the salon for camera setup. No fresh water bucket on some boats but did have a salt water bucket to keep the housing wet.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This was my 5th Panama live-aboard on two separate boats (Coiba Explorer & Coral Star) and I have received free trips before to shoot videos. However, I paid for this trip and others because I like the diving in Panama. If you like big animals and exploration diving this is the place to go. Schools of barracuda, dolphins, and game fish. There are huge tidal changes in Panama so the diving can get a little rough due to the current. Beginners should keep this in mind.
Diving is from 28 foot Pursuits with a max of 6 per boat. They get you on site in record time with a comfy ride, you can even spend your intervals fishing. The Coral Star is both a dive and fishing live-aboard (the fishermen are on their own Pursuits) so if this bothers you, ask about the trip make up ahead of time.
Coral Star pays for 1 night at Caesar Palace Hotel at the beginning and end of trip. The next day you fly 1 hour to David to meet the mother ship. Everything went well, but be advised they charge 25 cents/lb for overweight baggage.
Food on the ship is good and the soups are outstanding. Air conditioning needed a little work (condensation leak in my cabin) but this was being handled as I left.
This trip had colder thermal-clines than I have ever seen in this area (usually about 74F.) but it did seem to bring the game fish closer to the surface. This is unique diving and while I go for the big fish there is plenty to occupy the macro diver. We spent about 20 minutes just watching a small octopus doing its work. This is the only live-aboard left that I'm aware of and this area is difficult to supply and operate in. I always suggest supporting good operations that are run under difficult supply situations because if we don't, we'll lose the opportunity to dive in those waters. [coralstar.com link]
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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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