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Dive Review of Scuba Coiba in
Panama/Isla Coiba

December, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by David Richardson, Wa. , USA
Reviewer   (4 reports)
Report Number 4655
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire, Belize, Caymans, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Cozumel, La Paz,Nicaragua,
California, Canada, Fiji, Hawai, Lembeh-Indonesia, etc.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

choppy, surge  
Water Temp
77   to 81    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
We all stayed with the group.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
1 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
No accomodations for photographers.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
2 stars
Service and Attitude
1 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
2 stars
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars    
1 stars   
2 stars    
I have traveled in Panama before, and have traveled around the world for
almost 30 years, both for diving and adventure, so I have reasonable
expectations. I wanted to dive Isla Coiba before the government puts in the
inevitable eco-lodge or other tourist facility and ruins the pristine

If you like exciting, out-of-the-way experiences, this is one for you. If
you like being in a panga with large waves in the wide-open ocean with no
oxygen on board and long boat rides and doing surface intervals on
uninhabited, tiny islands, then you will like this. There was an admitted
excitement in diving a place that not everybody would venture to due to the
tougher conditions (think prep for the Galapagos) and the difficulty
getting to Santa Catalina, the location of Scuba Coiba and the departure
point for Coiba island. 

There are some people who go diving here who have good experiences and see
great things underwater. Of the four days of diving, we found one site that
was more than average for this type of rocky, Central American west coast
diving. We did see a lot of white tips and some jacks and some frogfish,
but not much to write home about other than that. 

The owner of the shop, Herbie Sunk, only appeared at the dive shop to
collect money from some walk-up, last-minute people who delayed the
departure of the trip, and then again when it was time to receive his
payment in hard cash. Beware that often the Internet does not work in this
area, so credit cards cannot be used. The head divemaster who accompanied
us to Coiba took all of five minutes after greeting us to tell us how cold
she gets diving in these waters. Every dive was an apparent race to some
unknown place, and every time I stopped to take a photo, I had to swim hard
to catch up. Most of the decent macro subjects I had to give up on. Once,
after swimming around at 90 feet for 15 minutes and seeing nothing, we came
up with all of us close to deco and she led us into a blistering current
such that I had difficulty keeping out of deco as we had to hold onto rocks
to keep from being swept away. The other local DM grabbed hold of her and
indicated that we had to find another way to finish the dive. 

The accommodations on Coiba were as advertised and expected -- rustic
cabins used by the park service -- but the food, although plenty, was
mediocre for the price we had paid. The accommodations provided by and
owned by the dive shop in Santa Catalina are about 1/2 mile away from the
dive shop, and are a good value. The local divemaster who came with us and
the crew were extremely nice and hard-working, and I had nothing but
accolades for them. 
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Other dive reports on Scuba Coiba

All Panama Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Panama
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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