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

April, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Tracy Johnson, CA, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports)
Report Number 1363
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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

surge, currents  
Water Temp
66   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
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.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
Shore Facilities  
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):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
5 stars    
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
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.  [ 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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