Scuba Diving in Panama

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.

Reasons to Visit

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Megafauna sightseeing ma involve viewing groupers, starfish, silvertip sharks, moray eels, nurse sharks, eagle rays, surgeonfish, smooth lumpfish, marine angelfish, seahorses and other inhabitants in their natural habitats. It is also worth visiting the islands of the Bocas del Toro archipelago (Spanish: Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro). They have walls, beautiful coral gardens and an artificial wreck to explore. Treasure hunters can try their luck in search of lost treasures — Inca Gold, stolen during the times of conquistadors.
Coiba National Park (Spanish: Coiba) is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Due to its biological diversity, it is often compared to the island of Galapagos. More than 700 fish species have been reported to dwell here, including dorado, tuna, swordfish, marlin, whales, dolphins, tiger and whale sharks, giant oceanic manta rays, stingrays. Sea turtles use white sandy beaches to nest and lay their eggs. Located here is one of the largest coral reefs in Central America, which occupies more than 130 hectares of the seabed.
Portobello — is a park on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. The waters are calmer here than near Coiba Island. Here you can find than 50 species of various corals, as well as the remains of the sunken ships. Divers will encounter silvertip sharks, shoals of stingrays, unique surgeonfish and a lot of tuna. During the calm, there is a high chance to come across big turtles and tiger sharks.
Diving in the waters of the Panama Canal (Spanish: Canal de Panamá) is immersing yourself in the history of the most grandiose waterway of the world construction. The main attraction of these quiet waters is the American equipment used to build the canal. These are winches, parts of cranes and even the whole train, which lies at a depth of sixteen meters. Crystal water provides such clear view that the visibility reaches 30 meters.
Bloodthirsty predators don't live in the warm waters of the Gulf of Panama, which makes this place a safe haven for humpback whales during the breeding season. More than 2,000 giant sea-creatures swim to the Pearl Islands archipelago (Spanish: Archipiélago de las Perlas), Taboga Island (Spanish: Isla Taboga), Otoque Oriente (Spanish: Otoque Oriente) and Coiba (Spanish: Coiba). The amazing miracle of the birth, the becoming of a new life, can be observed from a close distance in the period from July to September. Interesting fact — newborn baby whales reach 3-4 meters in length.
Memo Notes
Currency USD - United States dollar
Languages Spanish
Timezone UTC -5
Phone code 507
Emergency Help 911
Electricity

Type A - 110 V, 60 Hz

Type B - 110 V, 60 Hz

Dive Shops in Panama

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.

Сlimate & Seasonality
Spring

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.

Summer

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.

Autumn

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

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.

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The Best Dive Sites

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.

Health & Safety

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. 

Dangerous Marine Life

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.

Eat & Drinks

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.