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Panama

Coiba Island Diving

Tour:
6 Days
Price From:
$2,298
Pricing Details
Singles:
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Rating:
Moderate to Difficult

Panama

Coiba Island Diving

Destinations

  • Panama City
  • Santa Catalina
  • Coiba Island

Highlights

  • One dive in Coiba is like 10 dives anywhere else!
  • 3 world-class dives each day upon arrival
  • One of the most extensive marine preserves in the world with 7 islands and 1.1 million acres
  • Pristine reef outside the hurricane belt
  • Expert dive masters

Itinerary at a Glance

  • DAY 1 Panama City / Santa Catalina
  • DAY 2-4 Coiba Islands
  • DAY 5 Santa Catalina
  • DAY 6 Santa Catalina / Panama City / USA

Coiba Island Diving

Our clients rave that one dive in Coiba is like 10 dives anywhere else! Coiba was a prison colony for nearly 100 years before it was made into one of the most extensive marine preserves in the world - 7 islands and 1.1 million acres. The presence of the penal colony combined with its remote Pacific location (outside of the hurricane belt) is why Coiba's reef is so pristine. Coiba's remarkable proliferation of rare corals and abundance of marine life resulted in it being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. All this, and Coiba is only recently starting to see dive tourism!
. Three World-Class Dives Each Day - Upon arrival at Coiba Island.
. Lodging on Coiba Island - at the National Park Ranger Station.
. Expert Dive Masters

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 1 Panama City / Santa Catalina

You will be met in the morning in Panama City by our representative and transferred to Santa Catalina, located in Veraguas Province. Santa Catalina Beach is a major break, where you can nearly always find a decent wave to ride. This area is comparable to Oahu's Sunset Beach. From here you will begin your trip to Coiba National Park to explore the beautiful underwater environment in your diving tours.

Overnight at Santana Catalina Inn. (Breakfast)

DAY 2-4 Coiba Island

After breakfast on Day 2, you will begin your trip by boat to Coiba Island. The National Park consists of the islands of Coiba, Rancheria, Canal de Afuera, Afuerita, Uva, Brincanco, Pajaros, Jicaron, Jicarita, and many more small islets. Around 80% of the area is ocean and contains the largest coral reef of the tropical East Pacific. Coiba was uninhabited except for a prison colony, which closed in 2004, so the terrestrial flora is mainly virgin primary rainforest with more than 1,450 identified plants and home to 36 mammals and 147 species of birds, including the only population of Scarlet Macaws in Panama. Encounters with white tip reef sharks, mantas, eagle rays and turtles is quite normal, as is swimming with schools of sturgeon, butterfly fish, angel fish, barracudas, Pacific spade fish, jacks, and tunas. Also sightings of humpback (July to September) and pilot whales, orcas, dolphins, tiger sharks, bull sharks, and hammerhead sharks, as well as whale sharks are possible at certain times.

In the mornings you will have two dives at Coiba Island. A mid-day break allows you time to visit some of Coiba's brilliant white sand beaches and observe the nesting sites for green, olive, ridley and leatherback turtles. Dolphins are always present, and at least four different species of whales (humpbacks, orcas, pilot, and sperm whales) migrate through the waters of the park at certain times of the year. Whale watching encounters are both common and spectacular. You'll enjoy one more dive in the afternoons.

Overnight at Coiba Island. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

DAY 5 Coiba / Santa Catalina

Transfer back to Santa Catalina. Optional tour in Santa Catalina: visit area similar to Coiba National Park. Besides tons of snappers, jacks, tunas, butterfly fish, angel fish, puffer fish, and free swimming moray eels, you can also see whale sharks, white tip sharks, bull sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, dolphins, humpback whales, pilot whales, and turtles at certain times.

Overnight at Santana Catalina Inn. (Breakfast)

DAY 6 Santa Catalina / Panama City / USA

At the appropriate time you will be transferred to Panama City in time for your onward flight.

 

Panama Lodging

SANTA CATALINA

Santa Catalina Inn

On Panama's Pacific Coast, Santa Catalina & nearby Coiba National Park offer pristine beaches, turquoise waters & incredible sunsets. Come visit this beautiful location off the beaten path!

COIBA ISLAND

National Park Ranger Station

Until recently, the only way to dive Coiba was on a dive live-aboard. However, in 2004, the Panama National Park Service fully renovated the old guard barracks from the former prison, and turned them into a comfortable eco-lodge. The station offers several modest 2 room cabins with air conditioning.

 

Panama Activities

At a Glance

In addition to 3 world-class dives each day, there is plenty to see and do on Coiba Island. The terrestrial flora is mainly virgin primary rain forest with more than 1,450 identified plants and home to 36 mammals and 147 species of birds, including the only population of scarlet macaws in Panama. You can also visit some of the beaches of Coiba to observe the nesting areas for different turtles (green, olive ridley, and leatherback). Dolphins are always present and at least four different species of whales (humpbacks, orcas, pilot, and sperm whales) migrate through the waters of the park at certain times of the year.

  • Three World-Class Dives Each Day
  • Lodging on Coiba Island - At the National Park Ranger Station
  • Expert Dive Masters

Other Activities

Three World-Class Dives Each Day

Our clients rave that one dive in Coiba is like 10 dives anywhere else! For those seeking true Adventure Diving as opposed to Resort Diving, Coiba offers offers virgin fauna and flora under and above water, but no touristic infrastructure. In the mornings you will have two dives at Coiba Island. After a mid-day break you'll enjoy one more dive in the afternoons. At the beginning of the dry season in December and January visibility can be best and reaches sometimes 30 or more meters / 100 or more feet. Currents can be very strong this time of the year. Beginning at the end of January or middle of February until the end of March or middle of April, a continuous north wind brings very dry weather but can affect the surface conditions and may restrict the access to remote dive sites in the open sea. The upwelling caused by the north wind and the influence of Pacific currents bring lots of nutrients and with it big schools of migrating pelagic fish like manta rays, giant pelagic sting rays, tunas, amber jacks, even Orca whales and more. But these conditions also bring a thermo clime of 19-20 C / 66-68 F reaching up to 25 - 30 meters / 80-100 ft depth. While the visibility at the surface and also down in the cold water is excellent, a layer of greenish water between the two layers starting between 5-15 meter / 15-50 feet depending on dive sites and tides can sometimes reduce the visibility.
In the rainy season the wind ceases and the water calms, the thermo climes are deeper and until July and August the visibility can range between 12 - 20 meter / 40 - 65 feet down to recreational depth limits, also the water temperature does not drop lower than 24-26 C / 75-78 F all the way down. Thunderstorms and heavy rain should be expected in the late afternoons. Humpback whales are visiting the area from July to October. September and October are the wettest months; winds can make the surface choppy, big amounts of fresh water in the rivers can reduce the visibility especially at sites close to mainland or to big rivers at Coiba and lower the surface temperature to 25 C / 76 F.

Expert Dive Masters

Our local captains and boat crew are expertly acquainted with the dive sites of Coiba National Park. Our dive instructors have together more than 30 years experience in teaching and dive guiding, have made over 8,000 dives (more than 3,000 in this area of Panama), and have certified around 1,000 students in courses ranging from Open Water to Divemaster.

Visit Turtle Nesting Sites

Coiba's brilliant white sand beaches are home to nesting sites for green, olive, ridley and leatherback turtles.

Beaches Teeming with Coiba's Own Endemic Sub-Species of Scarlet Macaw

When you tire of diving, enjoy a mid-day break on Coiba's incredible pristine beaches, and witness the colorful antics of the island's own endemic species of scarlet macaw.

Dolpin and Whale Watching

Dolphins are always present, and at least four different species of whales (humpbacks, orcas, pilot, and sperm whales) migrate through the waters of the park at certain times of the year. Whale watching encounters are both common and spectacular.

 

Panama Wildlife

On the Island

Wild Planet's wildlife eco-tours are designed for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Our Coiba Island Diving Program features some of the best diving in the Americas. We take care to seek out wildlife experiences that are rare, off the beaten path, more unique than you will see on conventional tours.

Our expert naturalist guides will educate you in the field so your experience is intimate and unparalleled. Still, wildlife viewing can be unpredictable and requires patience and sensory awareness.

Primates: Howler monkeys, white-faced capuchin monkeys
Other mammals: 36 species of mammals including three-toed sloth, two-toed sloth, coatimundi, bats
Reptiles & Insects: Crocodiles, caimen, blue morpho butterflies, basilisk (Jesus Christ lizards), poison arrow frogs, green turtles, oliveturtles, ridleyturtles, and leatherback turtles
Birds: 147 species, including the only population of scarlet macaws in Panama.

In the Ocean

Fish: Manta rays, eagle rays, sturgeon, butterfly fish, angel fish, barracudas, Pacific spade fish, jacks, and tuna
Sharks: White tip reef sharks, tiger sharks, bull sharks, hammerhead sharks, and whale sharks (at certain times)
Whales: (July to September) Humpback, sperm, pilot, orcas, dolphins

 

Panama Guides

Coiba Island Guides

Wild Planet Adventures' dive masters are naturalists, biologists or leaders in their field. As wildlife specialists, we know that your guide is the difference between a good trip and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Our guides have been specially chosen both for their personality and interpersonal skills as well as their extensive naturalist knowledge and exceptional abilities to spot wildlife.

 

Panama FAQ

Panama Facts for Visitors

Climate/Best Time to Go:

Average year-round temperatures are a balmy 75°F to 85°F (24°C-29°C), varying only with altitude. Humidity is always high in Panama, and rainfall varies noticeably between the Pacific and Caribbean sides of the country, with some areas in the Caribbean receiving almost twice the yearly rainfall of Panama City. The best time to visit Panama is during the summer dry season from mid-December to mid-April. This is also high season. Caribbean destinations such as Bocas del Toro have a shorter dry season, usually September/October and February/March, but really showers can occur on any given day.

Best time to go: late November through April

Government:

Panama is a Presidential Representative Democratic Republic, whereby the President of Panama is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Since the end of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship in 1989, Panama has successfully completed five peaceful transfers of power to opposing political factions. The political landscape is dominated by two major parties and many smaller parties, many of which are driven by individual leaders more than ideologies.

Location:

Panama's location on the Isthmus of Panama is strategic. By 2000, Panama controlled the Panama Canal which connects the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to the North of the Pacific Ocean.

The dominant feature of Panama's geography is the central spine of mountains and hills that forms the continental divide. The divide does not form part of the great mountain chains of North America, and only near the Colombian border are there highlands related to the Andean system of South America. The spine that forms the divide is the highly eroded arch of an uplift from the sea bottom, in which peaks were formed by volcanic intrusions.

The mountain range of the divide is called the Cordillera de Talamanca near the Costa Rican border. Farther east it becomes the Serranía de Tabasará, and the portion of it closer to the lower saddle of the isthmus, where the Panama Canal is located, is often called the Sierra de Veraguas. As a whole, the range between Costa Rica and the canal is generally referred to by geographers as the Cordillera Central.

Size:

Approximately 28,640 square mile--about half the size of the state of Iowa.

Population:

Panama had an estimated population of 4,176,869 in 2018. The proportion of the population aged less than 15 in 2010 was 29 percent. 64.5 percent of the population was between 15 and 65, with 6.6 percent of the population 65 years or older.

More than half the population lives in the Panama City–Colón metropolitan corridor, which spans several cities. Panama's urban population exceeds 75 percent, making Panama's population the most urbanized in Central America.

In 2010 the population was 65 percent Mestizo (mixed white, Native American), 12.3 percent Native American, 9.2 percent Black or African descent, 6.8 percent mulatto, and 6.7 percent White.

Language:

Spanish is the official and dominant language. The Spanish spoken in Panama is known as Panamanian Spanish. About 93 percent of the population speak Spanish as their first language. Many citizens who hold jobs at international levels, or at business corporations, speak both English and Spanish. About 14 percent of Panamanians speak English; this number is expected to rise because Panama now requires English classes in its public schools.

Entry Requirements:

A passport (valid for at least 3 months past date of entry) and return ticket are required to enter Panama. No visas are required for citizens of the US, UK, Canada, Japan and many others.

Departure Tax:

Approximately US $35.00, typically included in cost of international flights.

Currency:

The Panamanian currency is officially the balboa, fixed at a rate of 1:1 with the United States dollar since Panamanian independence in 1903. In practice, Panama is dollarized: U.S. dollars are legal tender and used for all paper currency, and whilst Panama has its own coinage, U.S. coins are widely used.

Telecommunications:

All telecommunications services (direct dial phones, fax, telex, cable) are available; but calls from Panama are much higher than an equivalent call to Panama. The country code for Panama is (507) Remote jungle lodges usually have short wave radio communications linked to cellular service.

Time Zone:

Panama is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, and does not utilize daylight saving time. There is very little seasonal variation between dawn and dusk due to the proximity to the equator, dawn is usually 6:00 am and dusk 6:00 pm.

Sales Taxes:

Panama has roughly 7% sales tax and there may be 15% service charge in many hotels and restaurants.

Tipping:

Tipping is voluntary; tips of 15% are acceptable; more if the service is exceptionally good. Some hotels and restaurants add a 15% service.

Water:

Tap water in Panama City is safe to drink, as is the water in most other parts of the country. However, you're better off buying bottled water or purifying your own water in the provinces of Bocas del Toro, the Darien Gap, and Guna Yala.

This Trip's Exclusive Wildlife Features:

Choose Your Panama Travel Style! Any of our wildlife adventures are also available as fully customizable private trips, honeymoons or family wildlife adventures.
CONTACT US | EMAIL US | CHAT NOW | RESERVE A TRIP | 1-800-990-4376
We're Wild for Wildlife...
  • 3 world-class dives each day upon arrival
  • Lodging on Coiba Island - At the National Park Ranger Station
  • Expert Dive Masters
  • One of the most extensive marine preserves in the world with 7 islands and 1.1 million acres
We're Wild for Wildlife...
  • 3 world-class dives each day upon arrival
  • Lodging on Coiba Island - At the National Park Ranger Station
  • Expert Dive Masters
  • One of the most extensive marine preserves in the world with 7 islands and 1.1 million acres
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