Rainforests, Untouched Beaches and Cloud-Shrouded Mountains
The Highlight For Visiting Divers
With deserted Caribbean islands to the north and the wild Pacific to the south, Panama may, from a diver’s point of view, have it all. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility to dive with whale sharks in the morning and cruise abundant reefs in the afternoon. Liveaboards access the abyssal drop-offs and volcanic formations on the Pacific side, and day trips take you to the calm, coral reefs of the Caribbean. Panama’s biodiversity is staggering. It hosts one of the most complex ecosystems on earth: primal rainforests, untouched beaches and high cloud-shrouded mountains. That’s all in addition to the Pacific and Caribbean marine environments, which are, naturally, the highlight for visiting divers. Panama’s waters support myriad tropical fish, humpback whales, whale sharks, black-tip, white-tip and tiger sharks. Five sea turtle species call Panama home.
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Visibility – Varies from 15-30 metres/50-100 feet, depending on the site and prevailing conditions. Pacific coast visibility is a bit less, depending on the season.
Water Temperature – The water averages 26°C/78°F in winter and 28°C/83°F in summer, however the Pacific coast water temperatures can drop lower at depth.
Weather – Dive conditions are excellent all year in Panama. The tropical climate has little seasonal variation. Early morning air temperature may be 24°C/75°F and the afternoon reaches 29°C/84°F, seldom exceeding 32°C/90°F. Temperatures on the Pacific side are somewhat lower and breezes tend to rise after dusk in most parts of the country.
Featured Creatures – Humpback whales are most frequently spotted in July through September. In the Pacific, upwelling brings in large numbers of pelagics, such as manta rays, stingrays, tuna, amberjacks and whale sharks. Look for sea turtles and the full compliment of Caribbean reef denizens.
Recommended Training – Take the PADI Drift Diver course to prepare for drifting along the many walls and drop offs on the Pacific side. The PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course will help you stay off the coral on the Caribbean side. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course will allow you to get great shots of all the marine life that you see on both sides.
Language – Spanish, with English also widely spoken, especially in resort areas.
Currency – The Panamanian Balboa and the United States dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Major Airports – Many international flights arrive at Tocumen International in Panama City daily. There are many domestic airports around the country.
Electricity – Electricity is 110 volts, 60 Hz. Internet is available in most resort areas.
Topside Attractions – Visit the many parks, reserves and refuges to see more than 10,000 plant species and over 900 kinds of birds. In the remote rainforest at La Amistad International Park, pumas, ocelots, margays, jaguars, and jaguarondis roam. Ziplining and white water rafting are possible, and of course, visit the Panama Canal.
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