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Dive Review of ScubaPanama in

January, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by Julie T Tayloe, Texas, United States (1 report)
Report Number 4665
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Cozumel, Florida, Grenada, US and British Virgin Islands, Yucatan,
Indonesia, Costa Rica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Bahamas
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, dry  
Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Time and depth were gently enforced by the divemaster  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
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):
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
5 stars   
4 stars    
I called ScubaPanama while staying in Panama City, Panama.  I asked for an
english-speaking associate and was immediately transferred to another young
man.  He explained that they had a van driving from the city to Portobello
on the Caribbean side the following day, and the difference in cost should
I be the only diver ($120 v. $160usd) for a 2 tank boat dive.  Diving on
the pacific side wasn't an option as January is in the windy season and the
seas are too rough.  The cost included van ride, diving, any equipment
needed and a meal prior to returning to Panama City.  The following morning
I was met at the shop by the van driver.  Three other divers joined us, an
American and a Dutch couple, all of whom had less than 10 dives since
certification.  Following a 1.5 hour ride, we were met at the shop in
Portobello by the divemaster and boat captain.  The DM spoke perfect
english and helped us with any needed equipment.  Lockers were available,
but no locks were so we decided to leave our clothing and bags in the
office.  Adequate briefings were given to include max time and depth,
safety stop, sea life we were likely to see and also instructions not to
harm the coral.  He also made an assessment of each divers' experience and
expectations. The shop had a dock making for easy transfer of equipment.  I
hadn't planned diving on this trip, so I had only my dive mask with me and
used the equipment from the shop, all well maintained except for the
mouthpiece on the regulator.  Unfortunately, I didn't catch this until we
were ready to backroll into the water from the small boat.  The boat had
DAN O2 and a radio, and the captain had  a cell phone.  The divemaster kept
us in a tight group and watched the new divers carefully on the first dive
and assisted as needed.  Although there was some boat traffic nearby, we
were in protected water and weren't even bothered with the sound of other
boats.  We never got deeper than 50 ft, and the coral formations were very
healthy.  We saw juvenile spotted drum, various eels, a resting nurse
shark.  Our dive was slow and unhurried.  After a short surface interval,
we backrolled into another area with channel and groove formations and went
close to the mouth of a river where visiblity decreased.  Again, we saw
very healthy-looking coral and more of the same critters, some lobster and
even crab.  Re-entry was done by handing up belt, bc and fins to the
captain then climbing up a side ladder.  Quite easy in the calm water.  We
were taken back to the shop where we could have a cold water shower, then
assisted with the rinsing of the equipment.  Prior to going out on the
boat, each diver was given a choice of chicken or fish for lunch, and when
this was ready, we fell into wonderful the meal.  I chose the whole fried
fish, a local specialty.  Drinks were available for an additional charge. 
I gave a 10% tip to the DM, and a separate 5% tip to the boat captain.  The
van driver agreed to our request en route back to stop at a local fruit
stand and purchase some fruit, then he offered to drop each of us at our
respective hotels.  I would dive with ScubaPanama again. 
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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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