Panama is a country in Central America and is most famous for the Panama Canal. Panama is between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
The Pearl Islands are located south of Panama City and are probably the best-known diving in Panama. However, beware, because it's fairly close to the mainland, it gets very busy with day-trippers, especially at weekends. Here's where you'll find open-ocean diving and big pelagic action. There are regular sitings of barracuda (often numbered in their hundreds), white-tip sharks and huge jewfish.
You can even dive on the old French railroad system that helped build the famous Panama Canal. Gutan Lake contains the flooded remains of the original locomotives and plant machinery used to excavate the canal.
On the Caribbean coast is the Bocas del Toro archipelago, parts of which are protected by the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park. Shore diving is on the fringing reefs that start in shallow water and slope down. Vast quantities and different species of fish. Expect to see huge schools of parrotfish, angelfish, wrasse, blue and brown chromis and butterflyfish.
- The Panama Canal (Gatun Lake) for the remains of the first trans-isthmian railroad, the trains that ran on it, remains of villages, artifacts, and bottles together with the 19th century dredges that excavated the canal.
- Drake Island, near Portobelo Bay - the final resting place of Sir Francis Drake where divers still look for his coffin. This is a favourite spot for wreck divers - the Salmedina reef is well known for its vintage wrecks; cannons are strewn across the seabed.
- Diving the Panama Canal is not for everyone - the visibility isn't that great and it can be a bit worrying to hear an ocean-going vessel rumbling overhead (the enormous propellors create a lot of turbulence).
- Low Malaria risk; check for up-to-date information before travelling.
|Language:||Spanish (official); English|
|Currency:||Balboa; US $|
|Climate:||Tropical maritime; prolonged rainy season (May to Jan)|
|Natural hazards:||Typhoons (June to December)|
|Diving season:||Year round & May to December on Atlantic coast|
|Water temperature:||28C/82F (Jan-March)|