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Dive Review of Scuba Coiba in
Panama/Coiba Island

Scuba Coiba: "Solid diving, smooth operation", Jan, 2015,

by Jennifer Widom, CA, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 8102 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments (I posted the same review on Tripadvisor.)

Our family took the standard three-day, nine-dive trip to Coiba Island, through Scuba Coiba. Prices and services seemed indistinguishable from Coiba Dive Center, the other operator catering to multi-day trips, but Herbie at Scuba Coiba answered our emails more quickly, and we were certainly happy with the operation.

Coiba Island was an add-on to our winter holiday, rather than our main destination. While the diving doesn't match up to Socorro or Cocos (and we didn't expect it to), it was pretty darn good for a place that can be reached relatively easily if one is in Panama already. The island has charm, and so does Santa Catalina, the small beach town from where the Coiba trips depart.

While some dives had medium-long periods of not much activity, and not every dive site has pretty reefs to keep one occupied, looking back on our nine dives we saw a great deal: ever-present white-tip sharks, one long encounter with two giant manta rays, stingrays, eagle rays, fleets of mobula rays, plenty of turtles, several seahorses, frogfish, eels, schools of barracuda, and innumerable other types of schooling fish. It's a "fishy" place in general. Water was 81 degrees and visibility varied from about 40-120 feet. Apparently everything -- water temperature, visibility, and underwater life -- is highly seasonal, so ask before you go.

Our trip was well-organized, especially since we heard there were some challenges at the home base with the compressor and electricity. A Scuba Coiba boat runs out to the island most days to replenish tanks and supplies, and to drop off and pick up divers -- it's not necessary for everyone to be on the same schedule. In addition to our family of four, we had 2-4 other divers along on each dive. Our friendly, relaxed guide Nicholas did a good job managing the expedition. Since all of the divers were quite experienced, underwater he largely just showed the way and kept an eye out for the good stuff. Accommodations are in ranger-run 5-6 bed bunkhouses with private bathrooms. Our expectations were low, so we were pleasantly surprised, but "basic" is the right word for the island in general. Groups bring their own cook. Our food was excellent, and after-diving beer and wine were plentiful and included. The island has its own interesting wildlife and a few hiking trails.

Overall we highly recommend a few days on Coiba Island for divers traveling in Panama, and Scuba Coiba is a solid bet.
Websites Scuba Coiba   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving worldwide
Closest Airport Panama City Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy, currents
Water Temp 81-81°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40-120 Ft/ 12-37 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions We tended to stay in sight of the guide but it wasn't required. Dives were about an hour but again not strictly enforced.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 5 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]
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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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