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Dive Review of Scuba Coiba in
Panama/Coiba / Santa Catalina

November, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Chad Engler, OK, USA (2 reports)
Report Number 3742
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Truk, Palau, Yap, Kauai, Cozumel, Tonga, Fiji, Bora Bora, Maui, Cabo San
Lucas, Grand Turk, Grand Cayman, Dominica, Grand Bahama, New Providence,
Charleston, Black Canyon, Niagara River, St. Lawrence Seaway, Saudi Arabia,
Bonaire, Curacao, Catalina, Oahu, Crystal River, Bermuda, Yucatan, Komodo
Indonesia, Cocos Island.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

choppy, surge  
Water Temp
74   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
20   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Max depth of 100ft  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
Much to my surprise, and with no warning from Scuba Coiba despite many
video related arrangements I made with them, Coiba island does not allow
vieo above or below the water. They demanded $10,000 per day fee, in cash -
No, this is not a joke. When I refused they escorted (intimidated) the boat
I was on with a patrol boat to the edge of the park. A TERRIBLE experience
and a terrible dive operation.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
1 stars
Service and Attitude
1 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
1 stars    
I found the diving to be below average. I've heard all kionds of grat
thikng but didn't find that to be the case. The dives got grades from B to
F, average C-. Not worth the travel and trouble.

The ride from Panama City is 5 hours, easy. If you rent get 4WD. I'm very
glad we didn;t rent as the directions are tricky and much of the trip is in

The dive operation (Scuba Coiba) should have warned me that Coiba island
did not allow video to be shot. I made arrangements for a large vehicle and
special battery charging for my trip so they without a doubt knew that I
was bringing serious video gear. They also without a doubt knew of this
rule for quite some time yet they said nothing to me about it. 

Upon my retunr to Santa Cataliona the owner refused to see or talk to me to
settle this. He still has not answered my e-mails. I find his behavior to
be irresponsible and he has wasted my time money and cost me a lot of dives
that I paid him for.

Aside from this problem Scuba Coiba is a bit of a sloppy operation. They
set up our gear the second day and nothing was right, regs on wrong BC's,
regs on backwards, no LP's connected but they would have happily let us
exit the boat that way.

Getting back on the boat, no ladder, is awkward. You have to pull yourself
over the rail and get pulled up by your boat mates. It's tough on older or
larger people,

The boat rides are long, local dives were 45min to 1.5 hours, Coiba is 2
hours. Small open boats, our broke down more than once and almost ran out
of fuel (1 cup left after a 3 hour run). 

Overall I would highly recommend not choosing Scuba Coiba, take a look at
another operation there.

The hotel, SolyMar was very nice, especially for the area.
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All Panama Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Panama
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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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