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Dive Review of Marina Las Perlas/Barcelo Playa Blanca in
Panama/Gulf of Panama

Marina Las Perlas/Barcelo Playa Blanca, Dec, 2004,

by Ken Robertson, Alberta, Canada (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports). Report 887.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving All over the Caribbean, Mexico (both coasts), Galapagos, Greece, Tahiti, Cook Islands, Fiji, and Canada's West Coast
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy, noCurrents
Water Temp 83 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 10 to 15 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Very flexible with experienced divers.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The all-inclusive Barcelo Playa Blanca resort is in an area that was once a restricted military base of first, the Americans and then later of the Panamanian Army. Both President's Torrijos and Noriega had residences about one mile from our hotel. The hotel had only been opened for about two months but was easily 4 stars. To the common surprise of myself and two other experienced divers who were staying at the hotel it had no dive operation (as advertised) and the marina owners (sub-contractors)had tried to BS us that they were not diving because the visibility was bad. Once we discovered what was up, we found a dive operator at the neighboring Decameron Resort (nice place!)and arranged to dive with him. Pablo Garrido of Marina Las Perlas proved to be a great guy and kindly arranged some diving for us. The best dives we had were at Octoque and Bona Islands. Vis was not the greatest - but hey, we have had worst, and it was, afterall, at the end of the rainy season there. There were more corals (but far less than the Caribbean side)and a little less alga than we had seen closer to the coast the day before at Farallon Island. Saw some small groups of large parrotfish, some juvenile jewfish, bonito, purple surgeonfish, numerous small spotted rays, groupers, balloon fish, triggerfish, blue striped and yellow snappers, barberfish, blennies, a small octopus, butterflyfish, king angelfish, damsels, sergeant majors, wrasses and trevally. I think if I returned to Panama I would head further up the coast toward Costa Rico - most of the locals said the diving was definitely better there. The canal is well worth checking out and a great way to spend your off-gas pre-flight day. The history of the canal makes great beach reading.
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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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