The Republic of Panama (Spanish: República de Panamá), is a country located in Central and South America. It is bordered by the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The name "Panamá" means "an abundance of fish" in the dialect of indigenous people. And, in fact, it boasts a rich underwater world: you can find sailfish, sharks, dolphins, huge tuna fish, barracudas, moray eels, lobsters, stingrays. And the Islands are the birthplace of turtles and humpback whales.
Undoubtedly, every diver should visit Panama at least once in their lifetime. And it's not only the unique and diverse flora and fauna but also the opportunity to enjoy diving in two different oceans on the same day. Divers usually prefer the warm Caribbean tropical temperatures. But the Pacific Ocean also deserves your attention, especially the islands near Coiba (Spanish: Coiba) and the Pearl Islands (Spanish Archipiélago de las Perlas), because of their natural diversity.
Dive shops in Panama are located in resort towns, near popular diving sites. Coiba National Park, Pearl Islands, Bocas del Toro archipelago (Spanish: Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro). Dive shops provide a full range of services: training, equipment, transport to the dive site, guide services and organised diving tours.
From March to May, the water in Panama is calm and warm. The weather is hot and dry; in the afternoon the air warms up to 34–36 ° C. In May, rain season begins in the Caribbean, powerful cyclonic whirlwinds are possible.
In summer, the Caribbean Sea warms up to almost 30 ° C. However, it is a little cooler on the Pacific coast. The rain season lasts from June to August. The precipitation has little effect on Panama, but in summer it’s still humid and hot here.
The rain season ends in September. Autumn is an excellent time for diving. Dry weather all over the coast and the intense day’s heat seems to subside. The sea is calm and warm and allows you to get to some of the more distant dive sites.
Winter is a dry season in Panama. But the sea can be restless, which somewhat hinders diving. And only in February, the water is calm and pleasant, its average temperature stands at about 25–29 ° C. The air warms up to 29 °C.
The Hospital Point is a popular dive site close to Bocas del Toro (Spanish: Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro). You can dive on a shallow sandy bay or explore the huge walls of coral reefs with many caves and cracks. Keep an eye out for nurse sharks, royal blue tangs and stingrays. An old car ferry was purposely flooded for diving in Bocas Del Toro. But it is not recommended to swim inside.
Thanks to many years of cooperation with the United States, the level of medical care in Panama has reached a fairly high level. International health insurance is required at all entry checkpoints. Many doctors require payment in cash before providing services. There is a high risk of malaria throughout the year. Dengue fever flashes are registered from time to time. Contraction of Zika virus is fairly common, so Panama is not recommended for pregnant women. The crime rate in Panama is the lowest of all Latin American countries. Tourist Police work exclusively to ensure a pleasant stay for tourists and solve any safety and security related issues that could hinder a tourist from having an enjoyable trip.
Shark is a rare visitor at local diving spots. Caribbean reef shark, tiger shark, reef shark, blue shark and mako shark usually prefer deeper waters. Sea urchins and toxic jellyfish are the main threat. Therefore, it is necessary to take maximal precautions in Panama to prevent stings.
The local cuisine was influenced by Spanish and Indian traditions. We recommend trying Ceviche — meat stewed with vegetables. There is no one proper Ceviche recipe — there are a lot of variations, so you can hardly eat two identical Ceviches. There is also an option with seafood. You should also try Panama Frituras — fried sausages, eggs, bananas and greens; Arroz con Pollo — fried chicken meat in spices, served with rice. As for beverages, you can try the traditional coffee and tropical fruit juice. Since tap water here may be unsafe to drink, it is advisable to consume only bottled water.