Best Diving in Panama

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Taken from the indigenous word that means “abundance of fish”, there’s little doubt as to why Panama is a top-notch scuba diving destination. Added to this promise of many fish, Panama is unique in the fact that it presents the opportunity to dive in 2 different oceans in just 1 day as both Caribbean and Pacific waters surround Panama. To the east, divers can experience 1207 kilometres of Caribbean coastline where they’ll have the chance to dive in stunning tropical waters. On the west coast of Panama stretching roughly 1700 kilometres are the much cooler waters of the Pacific Ocean bringing along the exciting opportunity to see a number of shark species. This unique chance to dive in 2 oceans in 1 day is entirely possible as some areas are only a 2-hour car journey away from each other.

Caribbean Coast

Divers can hope to discover a vibrant and exciting underwater world in the tropical, fish-filled waters of the Caribbean. Bocas del Toro in particular is the most popular area boasting plenty of protected bays where the conditions are calm and ideal for those looking for an easy, carefree dive. The white sandy beaches and tropical feel of this side of the country is highly popular with all sorts of tourists, not just scuba divers, so expect busier dive sites and bustling touristy spots. Colon is another very well-known and busy area and is just 2 hours away from Panama City. Offshore from Colon is the highly rated Portobelo National Marine Park which has a number of sunken ships and a wealth of interesting history.

Pacific Coast

Pelagic life is synonymous with this side of Panama. A number of shark species, whales, dolphins and even whale sharks can be seen in the cooler waters of the Pacific Ocean. Commonly referred to as Central America’s Galapagos, the Coiba National Marine Park boasts the second biggest coral reef system in the East Pacific.

Best Diving Destinations in Panama

With two fantastic coastlines each offering nearly entirely different diving opportunities, Panama is all about experiencing as much as possible in the time you have. Separating the most popular dive sites on each end of the country, here’s a list of the top destinations to consider for great scuba diving opportunities in Panama.

Caribbean Coast Dive Sites

The place on every diver’s mind when visiting the Caribbean side of Panama is most certainly Bocas del Toro, an island group of 9 islands fairly close to Panama’s border with Costa Rica. The archipelago includes the Isla Bastientos National Marine, a protected area that is truly magnificent. Best known for soft and hard coral species in pristine condition and prime health, Bocas del Toro is home to around 95% of all the coral species in the Caribbean.

Another national park worth mentioning on this side of Panama is the Portobelo National Park. Usually quite a busy destination thanks to its close proximity to Panama City, the park has fantastic marine life and a number of wreck sites to explore.

Also relatively close to Panama City, a dive site known as Buoy Line is well-known for its many moray eels and smaller marine life such as lionfish, sea horses and crabs. Drift diving is possible between Carenero and Bastimentos where divers can hope to spot a rare and intriguing long lure frogfish. Airport and Hospital Point are another two dive sites that have a great amount of coral species to see and are well-suited for beginners thanks to their relatively calm currents and shallow depths.

One of the top-rated dive spots in Bocas del Toro is that of Tiger Rock, especially if divers are interested in seeing sharks, dolphins and whale sharks in the stronger currents. Tiger Rock is only suitable for advanced divers with a great deal of experience and diving is only possible here when sea conditions are absolutely suitable. The 3 pinnacles are an impressive sight, rising up from depths of 40 metres or more. The nearby Dolphin Rock is a similar dive to Tiger Rock with regular sightings of sharks, rays and – you guessed it – dolphins. If you’re looking to travel even further than Tiger Rock and Dolphin Rock, ask your dive operator about Zapatillas Cays which is another worthwhile dive spot.

Pacific Coast Dive Sites

For shark enthusiasts, Coiba National Park should be your first stop when diving on Panama’s Pacific coast. Listed as an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, this group of 38 individual islands offers diving of an unbelievably high standard. Coiba almost guarantees shark sightings and even boasts a wide variety of these magnificent predators, making every dive well worth it. Divers can hope to see black-tips, bull sharks, white-tips, tiger sharks and even the elusive hammerhead shark. Some of the smaller marine species that can be seen include colourful angel fish, sleepy-looking sea turtles and butterfly fish. Dolphins, mobula rays and massive schools of majestic mantas continue to add to the abundance of marine life available in Coiba, but  back to the big stuff: Whale shark season is between December and April and humpback whales are common from July to October, making any of these months the perfect time to visit. It seems that marine life in Coiba all have a whale of a time, with pilot whales and orcas even coming to join the party on occasion. Liveaboard trips are without a doubt the best way to explore Coiba.

Getting to Panama

Thankfully, the paradise of Panama is not too difficult to get to. The International Airport known as Tocumen International Airport is where many of the daily international flights will land, and from there a short domestic flight to Colon or Bocas del Toro is all that’s standing in the way of you and the stunning waters of this unique location. Although some domestic flights will leave from Tocumen International, the vast majority of domestic flights to the diving hot spots such as Bocas del Toro are best reached from another airport, the Albrook International Airport which is an hour’s taxi ride away from Tocumen International.

Travelling towards the coast via road transportation is also an option either by renting a car or jumping aboard a bus, but journey times are often much longer than expected thanks to long and winding mountain roads. Catching a ferry is another reasonable option to reach Bocas del Toro.

Panama’s currency is the US Dollar, however the locals call it Balboa. Expect to hear a number of different languages as you travel the coasts of Panama including English, Spanish (the official language of Panama) and Guari Guari which is a Caribbean version of English.

Where to Stay in Panama

It’s unsurprising that dive operators are in abundance all along both coasts of Panama. There are some dive shops in Panama City that will offer scuba courses, and daily dive trips to either (or both) of the coasts, with some of them presenting the opportunity to do the 2 oceans in 1 day experience. If you’ve left any of your scuba equipment behind, a helpful local dive operator is sure to have the item you require available to purchase or rent. Some of the dive shops on the Caribbean side of Panama have branched out to offer more than just daily diving trips – try your hand at surfing, kayaking or even wakeboarding all with the help of these operators.

Accommodation options are widespread and varied – everything from budget style cabanas to premium dive lodges, hotels and resorts are available.

Although liveaboards are not as common in Panama as in other areas of the world, there are a few options and these will give divers the chance to really get the most out of all the fantastic dive spots available. These trips are usually between 7 and 14 days and will visit some of the surrounding island groups too such as the world-famous Cocos Islands and the Malpelo Islands in Columbia.

When to Visit Panama

Thanks to its close proximity to the Equator, Panama boasts a hot and very humid climate all throughout the year. Panama experiences a rainy season from May until November with temperatures as high as 32°C and high humidity levels adding to the very warm temperatures. Their dry season is from December through to April and during this time Panama experiences cooler weather, usually not dropping lower than around 20°C.

The average water temperature varies significantly between the two coasts. On the Caribbean coast of Panama, the water tends to be between 23-28°C whilst on the Pacific coast the temperature can drop as low as 15°C and only reach highs of about 24°C in the height of summer. Be sure to pack a 5mm wetsuit or even opt for a 7mm if you’re diving the deeper sites where thermoclines are common. A 3mm wetsuit or even a shorty should be plenty to keep you comfortable when diving in the Caribbean Sea.

Panama is located just outside of the hurricane belt, meaning that it escapes the majority of the heavy hurricane weather but can experience stronger-than-normal winds when a storm is brewing nearby.

Dive Sites Reviews in Panama

Been diving here? Please share your experience using the comment section!

Liveaboard Reviews in Panama

Offering dive holidays all year long, the Inula liveaboard catamaran measures 24 meters and is complete with enough space to ...

Meggie August 04, 2017


Do you have any specials for the month of September? My husband and I plan on diving in September (8-10 dives), we want to stay 4-5 days and what dates are available. Please advise. Thank you.


Derek August 08, 2017

I wanted to book a room and dive package with you guys. Can you please get back to me we were looking for mid September thanks


Henry September 19, 2017

Is Jimmy’s still open? I will be there in April 2018 and would like to visit


Jenifer January 08, 2018

Hi! We will be coming in on a cruise on March 3, 2018, and would like to spend 03/03 – 03/08. We will have one diver and one non-diver. Just wanted to check availability and rates. Would it also be possible to get transportation from Colon to the resort? Thank you!!


Hugo January 11, 2018

Hi there,

I’m interested in diving the San Blas islands – can you help me with this?


Jenifer January 11, 2018

We would like to make reservations for the week of March 3rd through March 8th 2018. We will be arriving in Colon the morning of the 3rd and would like to inquire about a pick up there as well. Our party consist of 1 diver for 4 day diving and 1 non diver. please let us know what is needed to confirm reservations and additional cost for pick up if necessary. Please let us know as soon as possible as we are going to need to make airline arrangements as well. Thank-you.


Jim July 13, 2018

Working out plans for an October dive trip. We are divers and don’t care about much else. We want to dive a lot, every day.

I see you have a two tank boat dive in the morning, and then unlimited shore dives which is a great plan for us. What additional boat dives are available during the days or for night dives?

Can we shore dive at night? I’m a Dive master here for the local dive shop and will be diving with similar qualified people.

our unlimited shore dives is very attractive as is the cost of the air travel compared to other locations. How large a group of divers can you handle?

I may come with another diver for a long weekend to dive and check out the operation you have. This way I can better present this to the dive groups here.

I have significant experience with these presentations and I own and operate a safari company in South Africa which requires trade show and vacation conventions on a regular schedule. Would also like a phone number if that is an option to talk with you directly.


Seng July 15, 2018

We’re visiting Sep 2-8 and would like to dive near San Blas..
Would you please provide options and suggestions?


MaryKay August 11, 2018

I would like to find out availability for November 15- 30, for a family of 3 adults and 2 children, 3 or 4 bedrooms. Thank you.



Owen August 24, 2018

Interested in coming Dec 22 – Dec 29. We are divers and want to come to Panama on the caribbean side.

Interested in the staying and diving!



Larry November 06, 2018

Greetings, inquiring as to availability for two, one cottage from Tuesday July 9, 2019 to Saturday July 13.
Thank you.


Larry Ornell November 08, 2018

Greetings, My wife and I are certified divers and we are inquiring as to availability from Tuesday July 10 thru Sunday July 14th. I have a flight out on Sunday at 12:25 pm.



Larry November 08, 2018

Greetings looking for a place to stay and dive.

Wednesday July 10 thru Sunday July 14


larry November 19, 2018

Greetings, I am inquiring about lodging for my wife and I we are both certified divers. Arriving on 9 July and leaving on Saturday 13 July


Barb December 27, 2018


I have a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 teenage boys. We are considering your resort arriving on April 18th and departing on April 27th. We plan to scuba dive. What would be the price for this stay? What size is the cabana and what size are the beds?


Scot January 03, 2019

I have a group of people that keep asking me about when I’m going to do another trip. I’m ready if you are.

Let me know.




Arkadiusz January 17, 2019

Dear Sirs.,

we are diving couple who consider Panama as destination for our next Christmas’19 holidays ( 21-31Dec’19 ).

We are both SSI Advanced Adv. + Nitrox EAN40 divers, with 140 – 220 dives logged so far,
with own gear ( only air/nitrox tank DIN connection & weights would be needed )
We use to dive unguided + stay at most calm + quiet + safe locations, not to far from airport,
with best 2-3 boat & shore / day diving options available,
and most friendly atmosphere – at reasonable cost.

As we found online your Dive Resort as a potential solution for us,
would appreciate your kind confirmation of available options & conditions for diving & accommodation,
following below details:

Diving ( 22-30 Dec’19 = 9 days ):
– some kind of package / 9 days none limit diving or some other combination?
– Nitrox availability & cost
– own gear storage possibility & conditions
– toilet, hot/cold drinks availability on dive boat
– gear transport on board & back to base conditions ? ( diver or staff – especially my Wife need help with heavy gear )
– each dive site scheduling system & confirmation procedure (sites scheduled beforehand or at daily basis, each dive booking required or “dive as you like” a.s.o.)
– house reef (shore) & night diving possibility & conditions
– unguided option ( we use to dive unguided together everywhere )
– cost quotation with all taxes & charges included
– booking & payment conditions, currency (EUR preferred), methods (C.Card preferred), any surcharges

Accommodation ( 21-31Dec’19 = 10 nights)
no need luxury, but safe, clean & quiet place, not to far from airport, at competitive cost, as close to Dive Base as possible:
– Double/Twin room with AC, own bathroom & balcony/terrace (place for smoking),
– safe box available
– towels & bath amenities
– short distance to Dive Center & beach,
– HB / FB options (we use to eat at same place every day)
– airport transfers – conditions & travel time ( PTY: surely 21 – 31 Dec afternoons )
– booking & payments & cancellation (just in case) conditions – with all taxes & surcharges included

Awaiting your kind reply,
we look forward to opportunity of spending great time together next Christmas.

Thank you in advance
and best regards


Pd. we speak English, Spanish, Polish, Korean – so you can reply at your convenience


Tom February 01, 2019

There are 4 of us looking for diving and fishing adventure with accommodations around the week of March 10-2019.


Cara February 02, 2019

Hi, looking for accomodation and divng from 2/25-3/3. Is that available?


Jim March 12, 2019

I would like to have a price on all inclusive dive package for two people.
Meals, accommodations, two boat dives per day for 7 days
Along with unlimited day and a few night shore dives.


Adele March 20, 2019

Im in Panama and wanting to dive next week

Do you do freediving ? I’m a freediver master and would love to dive in Panama.

I understand there are some great sights… including a cargo ship and plane.. are these something I can see whilst freediving?

I’d also like to spearfish …do you offer this ?



Jim April 03, 2019

I would like a total package price for my wife and I to dive for a week in October or November. 8 days diving plus arrival day.
All meals, one of the cabanas would be beautiful for us.
We will likely dive both boat dives and several shore dives every day.

I want to book this as soon as possible to make my flight arrangements. My wife is a recreational nitrox diver I’m both PADI and SSI instructor level diver


Jim April 03, 2019

I would like a total package price for my wife and I to dive for a week in October or November. 8 days diving plus arrival day.
All meals, one of the cabanas would be beautiful for us.
We will likely dive both boat dives and several shore dives every day.

I want to book this as soon as possible to make my flight arrangements. My wife is a recreational nitrox diver I’m both PADI and SSI instructor level diver


Lars April 09, 2019

What is the price for two divers ? we will bring our own gear and need only tanks and weights. We will like to dive two times a day and we need a nice place to sleep and three meals every day. ? – Thank you from Denmark


Jim April 10, 2019

I would like to book a Saturday to Saturday trip in late October or early November. Can you tell me what availability you have for this time?


Jean May 09, 2019

Hi! My husband and I are divers looking to book a trip the last two weeks of January 2020. Can you tell me what your availability is?!


Valerie July 09, 2019


I want to earn my PADI Rescue Diver during a stay here. If I already have my CPR/First Aid certification, how many days would it take? Please let me know. Thanks!


Kristy August 29, 2019

Hi there,

My family and I (3 of us total) 2 adult divers and one 15 year old diver, are interested in seeing if you are available Dec. 27- Jan 3. If you could let me know the cost that would be fantastic. Thanks and have a great day!


Lauren September 09, 2019

Hello, Do you have any availability for four adults complete dive package? Can you also explain the pricing? Two of us have our open water cert and two need to get certified. Do you offer dive courses?
Thank you!


Allan October 11, 2019

we are a family of 4 coming to Isla Grande where we will be staying at coconut grove logde. we arrive the 25.12.19 and are interested in maybe doing some scubadiving. we are 3 AOW divers and 1 snorkeler. Can we combine a scuba and snorkel trip ? please let us know if possible and if so your suggestions. thank you in advance and kind regards Allan + family


Eric December 29, 2019

I am looking to arrange a vacation for my 60th bday with some friends in August of 2020. Can you please confirm your rates with dive packages per day for both single and double occupancy.


Henry February 11, 2020

Is the dive center still open?


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