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Dive Review of Scuba Coiba/Sol y Mar in
Panama/Santa Catalina

January, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Janice R Melara, TX, United States
Report Number 3284
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Cozumel,Bonaire, Curacao, Roatan, Dominica, Hawaii, Zhuatenajo
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

choppy, currents  
Water Temp
78   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
1 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
1 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars   
3 stars    
Diving was mediocre. The long (hour to hour and a half) boatrides to the
dive sites were very uncomfortable because the captain drove excessively
fast and there were no cushions on the metal bench seats. We had read that
there were amazing amounts of fish to be seen in Panama, but we found the
amount of fish to be average or below average.  We specified before making
our reservations that we did not want to dive in strong currents or do any
difficult dives because my husband is a novice diver.  Ernie, the owner of
Scuba Coiba, assured us that he could accomodate our needs. Currents were
so strong that divers had to be pulled on a rope by the captain from the
point of entry to the anchor line for descent. While descending on the
anchor line, it took all my strength to hang on and not be swept off the

On the first day of diving, the divemaster sat on my husband's mask and
broke it. She promised to have it repaired, but never did so. 
On our second day of diving, things went from bad to worse. The crew forgot
to load our wetsuits and we had to wait on a beach for an hour and a half
while they went back to get them. Before we started the trip we made it
clear to the divemaster (a different one that day)that we did not want to
struggle against heavy currents.  Since we were the only people on the
boat, it seemed likely our request would be honored, but instead we were
taken to a rocky point with currents so strong that we were flying straight
out like flags in a strong wind as we descended on the anchor line. My
husband had to abort the dive after about 20 minutes because he was
exhausted trying to struggle against the current.  The divemaster seemed
very inattentive-he didn't even notice that my husband was in distress
until I signalled repeatedly with my noise maker.  By that time, we were
already about halfway to the surface.  We cancelled the rest of our dives.
Accomodations at Sol y Mar were primitive at best and yet the rates were
quite high for Panama.  The only hot water was in the shower-none for the
sink-and it was supplied by a small heater at the showerhead with exposed
electrical wiring running along the waterpipe from the wall to the
showerhead.  The lights in the room dimmed whenever we used the shower. 
The breakfasts provided by the owner's wife in the owner's home were
delicious and really the best part of the dive trip. 
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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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