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Dive Review of ScubaPanama in
Panama/Portobello

ScubaPanama, Jan, 2009,

by Julie T Tayloe, Texas, United States ( 1 report). Report 4665.

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

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Time and depth were gently enforced by the divemaster
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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 N/A Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments 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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