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Dive Review of Scuba Coiba in
Panama/Coiba / Santa Catalina

Scuba Coiba, Nov, 2007,

by Chad Engler, OK, USA ( 2 reports). Report 3742.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Truk, Palau, Yap, Kauai, Cozumel, Tonga, Fiji, Bora Bora, Maui, Cabo San Lucas, Grand Turk, Grand Cayman, Dominica, Grand Bahama, New Providence, Charleston, Black Canyon, Niagara River, St. Lawrence Seaway, Saudi Arabia, Bonaire, Curacao, Catalina, Oahu, Crystal River, Bermuda, Yucatan, Komodo Indonesia, Cocos Island.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 74 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 20 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Max depth of 100ft
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 2 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 3 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 1 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments DON'T GO TO COIBA ISLAND.
Much to my surprise, and with no warning from Scuba Coiba despite many video related arrangements I made with them, Coiba island does not allow vieo above or below the water. They demanded $10,000 per day fee, in cash - No, this is not a joke. When I refused they escorted (intimidated) the boat I was on with a patrol boat to the edge of the park. A TERRIBLE experience and a terrible dive operation.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 1 stars
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments I found the diving to be below average. I've heard all kionds of grat thikng but didn't find that to be the case. The dives got grades from B to F, average C-. Not worth the travel and trouble.

The ride from Panama City is 5 hours, easy. If you rent get 4WD. I'm very glad we didn;t rent as the directions are tricky and much of the trip is in wilderness.

The dive operation (Scuba Coiba) should have warned me that Coiba island did not allow video to be shot. I made arrangements for a large vehicle and special battery charging for my trip so they without a doubt knew that I was bringing serious video gear. They also without a doubt knew of this rule for quite some time yet they said nothing to me about it.

Upon my retunr to Santa Cataliona the owner refused to see or talk to me to settle this. He still has not answered my e-mails. I find his behavior to be irresponsible and he has wasted my time money and cost me a lot of dives that I paid him for.

Aside from this problem Scuba Coiba is a bit of a sloppy operation. They set up our gear the second day and nothing was right, regs on wrong BC's, regs on backwards, no LP's connected but they would have happily let us exit the boat that way.

Getting back on the boat, no ladder, is awkward. You have to pull yourself over the rail and get pulled up by your boat mates. It's tough on older or larger people,

The boat rides are long, local dives were 45min to 1.5 hours, Coiba is 2 hours. Small open boats, our broke down more than once and almost ran out of fuel (1 cup left after a 3 hour run).

Overall I would highly recommend not choosing Scuba Coiba, take a look at another operation there.

The hotel, SolyMar was very nice, especially for the area.
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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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