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Dive Review of Starfleet Scuba/rental home in
Panama/Bocas del Toro (Caribbean)

September, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by David Ritchie, CA, US (2 reports)
Report Number 6297
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Fiji, Hawaii, Mexico West Coast, and Cozumel, California, many Caribbean
islands, Nicaragua, Honduras 
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy, cloudy  
calm, surge  
Water Temp
82   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 40    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
max 50 minutes, although if 1st in/last out some dives over an hours.    
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
2 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
Although not a photographer, there was no rinse tank on boat; camera was
handled appropriately
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
3 stars
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
4 stars   
2 stars    
  We traveled via Panama City and spent two days there touring the locks,
etc. That was worth the time on this three week trip. Regional air to Bocas
charges excess baggage fees for over 30 lbs. We found a rental house on situated on the water on Isla Carenero, two minutes by water taxi
from Bocas Town. Bocas Town is a backpackers haven with lots of hostels.
Upscale hotels and resorts, some all-inclusive, are there too. Restaurant
food is very good with lots of variety at half the cost of the US.  Common
US groceries are readily available. English is widely spoken and the
currency is the US dollar. Chitres (sand flies) and mosquitoes abound.
     October is a dry month with the calmest seas. It is a tropical rain
forest, so dry is a relative term. Plan on rain. Lots of runoff clouds the
water and deposits lots of silt on the bottom. The bottom is at 60 feet or
less. Dive sites are mostly within ten minutes of the dive shops. The two
sites purported to be the best are full day trips that we were unable to
dive because the trips are six diver minimum. We were unable to fill the
boat and decided the $400 to $500 cost for the two of us was too much to
bear. What we did dive was mediocre. We ended up diving six days of our
three week stay.
     We dove off of covered pangas with outboards. Backroll or put on gear
in the water. Exit by a reasonable ladder after handing up your gear. Tanks
and BCs are loose on the boat bottom. Mouthpieces often are in the bilge
water until you take care of it not a good thing. No first aid kit, no
oxygen, no radio, no toilet facilities. Any communication with shore is by
cell phone. No camera bucket. Bring your own water and snacks. The
divemasters, particularly Manuel, were excellent, moved slowly, and were
good at finding something of interest on almost every dive. We saw lots of
brittle stars and arrow crabs, some interesting coral formations, toadfish
and scorpion fish (Liz is quite good at spotting them), some lobsters, and
lots of lionfish. Lionfish arrived in 2009. Lionfish roundups are done
regularly. See Lionfish and subsistence fishing have
taken a toll on the fish population. This is a big turtle nesting area, but
that happens in July and we saw no turtles. Fifty minute bottom time is
     We dove the first day with Bocas Water Sports. They accept PayPal,
which gets around foreign transaction fees on your credit card. We did the
rest of our dives with Starfleet because they would pick us up and return
us to our private dock. These and one other are PADI operations. There are
two additional shops in Bocas Town. Starfleet offers three day open water
courses and three day advanced courses which are popular with the backpack
     The beaches are beautiful, the rainforest flora and fauna are
interesting, and the ambiance is neat.  We got the diving that we expected
based on other Undercurrent reports. We regret that we were unable to do
the all day trips to what may have been better diving. 

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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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