Want to dive where
the oceans meet? Make your ultimate diving fantasies a reality...come
and scuba Panama! The isthmus of Panama, running on an east-west axis,
finds the Atlantic Ocean on its northern shores.
The Azuero peninsula has various luring dive areas; Isla Iguana, Punta
Mala, Cam Butal, Santa Catalina, Los Frailes, Isla Cebaco among others.
The diving is somewhat similar to the other areas in the Pacific in
the underwater terrain and sea life. Most of the divers travel to these
sites by car; a five, six, or seven hour drive awaits you. No dive operations,
but very virgin territory.
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro is an ideal place to live an unforgettable SCUBA
diving or snorkeling experience. You will be glad to have discovered
this beautiful unspoiled spot, visited by Christopher Columbus in 1502,
during his forth and last trip. Bocas offers countless clean beaches,
clear waters great for diving along fabulous live coral reefs. A typical
diving excursion to Bocas del Toro would be a three-day excursion. On
the first day, leave the domestic airport first thing in the morning
and arrive at Bocas around 8am. If you have not made hotel reservation,
find some lodging. After you have settle in your room, get some light
lunch and take off on a local cayuco for four hours, on Caribbean reefs
looking for old bottles. On the second day, after a scrumptious caribbean
or continental breakfast, you take either a boat or bus ride to Boca
Del Drago (1 hour ride), a special beach, ideal for picnicking, beachcombing,
swimming, and snorkeling. From there, you can rent a cayuco to travel
to either "swans key", "flat rock", "sail rock", or to travel the water
channel through the jungle. Return to the hotel at the end of the day.
The third day, after breakfast, the morning is for you to roam the town
until your plane takes you back to Panama City around 3pm. Non-divers
can plan side trips to other islands, Indian villages, or to Changuinola,
"Chiquita Banana" birthplace. You may go through the banana plantations
and processing plant, walk through a cacao (chocolate) farm - the best
quality in the world. Ride the "Banana Express" train, rustic and picturesque
and the ferry boat "Isla Colon" across the Almirante Bay.
For more diving information, contact Starfleet Eco Adventures, at scubaStar@hotmail.com
The Pacific coast of Darien, realm of the Black Marlin, huge Amberjacks
and "Dog-Toothed" Snapper is a sportfishing's paradise. The area can
be reached by either flying into the town of Jaque, or by private boat.
It has been known of budget-conscious divers loading a zodiac with a
small engine onto one of the cargo boats and go there for four or five
days. Although no formal dive operation exists, some outfitters will
gladly customize a tour for your group and guide you through the area.
Be prepared to see blue and deep waters, with large inquisitive fish
coming at you as if you were just driftwood. It is strongly advised
to secure the services of a reputable guide whenever wandering through
Zone - Atlantic Side
Portobelo... from where all gold from South America left for Spain.
Portobelo, lust of Pirates, harbors on its depths their galleons and
mysteries. Right before the town, there are several diver operators
that offer trips to the local waters including "Buena Ventura Island"
for shallow and deep diving, with an intriguing drop-off. Or, if your
interest is in searching pirate's history; "Drake's Island" is your
site, right where Sir Francis Drake was set to rest. Divers still look
for Drake's coffin, that is perhaps totally encrusted with coral. A
short boat ride can take you to "Salmedina Reef", a semi-submerged reef
that took its share of wooden vessels. Not far, lies "Three sisters"
islands with a conglomerate of underwater terrain, sea flora and fauna.
Close to shore there are several dive sites totally accessible by car.
Because of the rivers running into the sea, this area is known to have
the famous Tarpon; a great rod-fighting fish; very impressive to see
Moving further East from Portobelo, we find "Isla Grande" a typical
Antillean community with a beautiful small beach and several guest houses
plus a main hotel to suit your diving and rooming needs. On its western
end, a unique labyrinth of canyons offer a beautiful dive.
For a new experience in diving, consider Gatun Lake, in the Panama Canal.
Instead of fish and coral, one can see all kinds of French and American
dredging equipment submerged here, including dumpsters, drills, boilers,
and trains--eerie objects to find underwater.
Panama Zone - Pacific Side
For divers, the Perlas Islands have it all. From shallows to deep water,
from coral heads to rocky drop-offs, from the tiny sea wrasses to the
four-hundred pounders Jew Fish (large sea bass). Underwater photography
and sportfishing is a must in the waters surrounding the island of "Contadora".
The island boasts a five star Caesar Park hotel and several other first
grade "cabana" style hotels. Marine sports are available for the non-diver.
By the way, the name "Contadora" was given, because in the old days,
it was where they did the counting of the pearls fished out of this
set of "Perlas Islands".
Coiba is the largest island of Panama, and because of its inaccessibility
was turned into a penal colony where most of the prisoners worked the
land during the day and went back to their cells at night. Being a penal
colony, its shores, remained virgin to fishermen, boaters and divers.
There is, however, a number of large and small islands that surround
Coiba; where crystal waters and white sands make you feel like Robinson
Crusoe. And if it is unspoiled on the top, just think how virgin it
is on the bottom. It is said that nothing tops diving in the Coiba area,
but perhaps it can be said that "nothing tops diving in Panama". Whether
is snorkeling or tank diving (scuba), the diving enthusiast is bound
to find something of interest in any of the various waters of Panama.
Panama offers both the lively and colorful clarity of Caribbean style
Atlantic and the vast and mysterious Pacific Ocean full of large marine
species, exactly where Balboa discovered it. Scuba adventures For those
interested, try contacting Scuba Panama (507-261-3841) of Panama City.
San Blas Islands
The famous "San Blas Islands", all 378 of them, more than one for each
day of the year, say the Cuna Indians that inhabit these white sanded
specs on the northeastern shores of Panama. San Blas can be reached
by air from the Panama City airport. You select which one of the countless
airstrips you wish to land; from there, you leave it entirely to your
hosts, the Cuna Indians, will assist you in making your stay memorable.
"Porvenir", "Nargana", "Aligandi", are three of the airstrips that divers
visit the most. Right upon landing you can make the arrangements for
your meals and lodging, although it is advisable to make arrangement
from Panama City. Your hosts will make the necessary arrangements to
have a dug-out cayuco available for your dive trip, operator and all.
This is "snorkeling paradise", because of the vastness of snorkeling
area these islands have to offer. There, you would be staying in thatch
roof, Cuna style homes, with a white sandy floor.You can select to sleep
on a bed, or on the famous hammocks. All this, in an unspoiled and clean
atmosphere. Don't miss it. SCUBA-diving is not permitted on these islands,