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Dive Review of Scuba Coiba/Sol Y Mar in

December, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by David Shem-Tov, NA, United Kingdom
Sr. Contributor   (20 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 3130
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Maldives, Palau, French Polynesia, Carribbean, Truk, Gallapagos, Cocos,
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
26   to 28    Celsius  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
12   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Requested to dive our own profile and refer to buddy's computer if we
didn't have one.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  2 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  3 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
2 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
Herbie agreed to set up a rinse tank on his boat if requested.  However,
given the limited possibilites for photography, this was never tested.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
3 stars    
If you go to Coiba expecting Cocos and Galapagos on a budget, you are bound
to be disappointed.  Although the ocean topography is similar and for the
most part shares the coral barrenness of these locations (aside from a few
struggling fans), the fish life is less than I expected.  But perhaps my
expectations were raised by the Undercurrent and [UK] Diver magazine
article [both of which are on Scuba Coiba's website].  Visibility was poor
on most dives, but it did rain on preceding days. We did go on the three
day Coiba trip, and indeed the two dives undertaken on the second day were
better than the others.  

Austrian expat Herbie is a relaxed and good-natured fellow running a very
modest operation.  According to Rachel, 50% of his business is walk-in -
mainly backpackers and travellers looking to add a day's diving.  He made a
special effort to accommodate my temperamental and difficult companions. 
Scuba Coiba operates one boat and charters a fisherman's boat if the need
arises.  This fisherman's boat lacked a reliable engine, skilled operators,
radio or oxygen.  Both boats lacked a ladder, making re-entries challenging
and inelegant.  While Canadian guide Glen was friendly, he was outshined by
his colleague, Rachel.  This very enthusiastic and warm Englishwoman made a
major effort to please guests and find critters (sea horse and frog fish.) 
If you do go, try to get her.  

Luis at Sol y Mar did not want to bother with breakfast, which was a
problem given that the local restaurant struggled to open before the dive
boats left.  If I had a car, I would stay at the very attractive
Italian-run Oasis Surf Camp on the stunning El Estero beach, a few miles
down the road.  This is also a great place to dump non-diving partners and
to spend  time after the dives.  If air conditioning and hot water are
indispensable, I would consider the American-run Buena Vista lodge, located
closer to Herbie's shop.  It got good reports.

The local restaurant visited by Undercurrent's correspondent has been
upgraded and refurbished, losing any charm it may have possessed to make up
for the barely edible food and mind-numbingly slow service.  Alaskan-run
Vianka's is only good for beers, but the local bar next to Sol y Mar looks
more fun.  Dine at the superb and very reasonably priced Argentinian
Parilla (grill), Pide.  Or go to the Roman Pizzeria, close to Vianka's for
some of the best pizzas in the country.
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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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