Divers will find everything in Panama's waters from sharks, whales, dolphins and marlin to brilliantly colored tropical fish among vivid corals in the Caribbean Sea.
Liveaboard diving in Panama probably isn't on the tip of most divers tongues, but Panama has an amazing biodiversity while it also has one of the most complex ecosystems on earth: primal rainforests, untouched beaches and high mountains. Divers highlights however will undoubtedly be the Pacific and Caribbean marine environments neighbouring Panama. Liveaboard Vessels will take you out to the wild with-sharks-filled Pacific Ocean to the south. Going on a liveaboard cruise is highly advised while they take you to otherwise unaccessible areas. The country of Panama was named after an indigenous word meaning, "abundance of fish" - what more can we say?.
Panama's waters contain large numbers of pelagics such as manta rays, stingrays, tuna, amberjacks and whale sharks. tropical fish, humpback whales, black tips, white tips and tiger sharks. Five sea turtle species call Panama home. Liveaboards in Panama will be able to give you a huge variety of diving experiences.
LIVEABOARD DIVE TRIPS IN PANAMA
Liveaboard.com hosts a variety of dive trips in the Panama area. Our boats are MV's motor vehicle yachts ranging from 22 meters to 40 meters in length. Our boats can host anywhere from 10 to 26 divers depending on the liveaboard yacht and organise dive safaris from 12 up to 18 days. Electricity and internet connections are sometimes available, but are subject to additional fees depending on the boat.
Depending on the type of safari, our Liveaboards offer dive trips to the south, to Malpelo, Malpelo and Coiba Island and Cocos Islands added to them.
DIVE SITES AND AREAS OF PANAMA
Malpelo Island is only eight square kilometers. The island is surrounded by 12 sharp boulders with heights between 10 and 40 meters located north and south. There is 8 different currents affecting the island directly and indirectly. These currents are generally between 26C and 28C but in the first months of the year the water temperature can vary between 16C to 25C.
With such a small island size and the entire ocean abyss encircling, the concentration of pelagic life in Malpelo waters is enormous. Also due to it's remote location a dive liveaboard serves as the perfect way to visit this area. Malpelo is known for regular visits of hammerhead sharks but also other big sharks are to be seen in the blue as well as manta rays. It might be smart to keep an eye on the cleaner fish as a way to detect the bigger predators. Besides the regular barber fish, there are two other cleaners in Malpelo, clarion angel fish and juvenile rainbow wrasse and black jack fish are often side companions of whale sharks.
Coiba Island Marine Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes 38 islands and hosts abundant marine life. The largest island in the park, Coiba Island, is surrounded by coral reefs with a diverse tropical underwater life.
Coiba gets the big stuff. Sharks can be seen on almost every dive including white-tip reef sharks, black tip reef sharks, and occasional hammerheads, bull, and tiger sharks. Whale sharks are common visitors from December to April. Humpback whales are seen July through October and orcas and pilot whales frequent the area. Large schools of mantas and mobula rays sometimes swim by, and most dives have turtles, schools of large fish, angelfish, butterflyfish, and dolphins. Also more than 700 fish species have been recorded here, including snappers, barracuda, amberjack, and marlin.
Hannibal Bank is a totally pelagic environment, rising from thousands of meters depth to 46 meters. Hannibal Bank sits in the Eastern Pacific Corridor and is swept by the main oceanic currents. You can drift dive over one of the shallowest points on the bank. At around 35 meters you can encounter huge schools of fish. Huge schools of giant amber jack can be observed, along with various species of snapper and jack fish. Larger predators loom out of the deeper water, hammerheads, big black tips and the occasional tiger shark.
WHEN TO GO
Just nine degrees north of the equator, Panama is hot and humid year round. The rainy season is from May to November and the dry season is from December to April (with less humidity and almost no rain.). Panama is not in the hurricane belt, but it can get strong winds from nearby storms. Air temperatures throughout the year range from 20-32C , being a bit cooler in the winter/dry season. Water temperatures vary between coasts.
Best season to dive in Malpelo island is from May to September with a peak in July and August, when silky sharks arrive at the island in large groups. Temperatures: from April to December/beginning January 28C and thermoclines around 24C .
During Malpelos' cold season from January to March with water temperature between 14 and 23C ), hammerhead sharks may be closer to the surface, furthermore thats the best time to see the sandtiger shark.
TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS
Due to unpredictable weatherconditions, diving south of Panama is a little tricky and can be challenging and therefore more suitable for experienced divers.
Be sure to bring your dive certification card and logbook.
Come prepared with exposure suits for a range of temperatures. Marine conditions are variable.
The local time is -5 hours GMT.
The local currency is the Panamanian Balboa and the US dollar. Languages spoken in Panama are Spanish and English.
Electricity current in Panama is 110 volts, 60 Hz.
HOW TO GET THERE & PORTS OF DEPARTURE
Many international flights arrive at Tocumen International in Panama City daily. There are many domestic airports around the country. Departure point of our liveaboard safaris is Puerto Pedegral. Within 5 km of Puerto Pedegral is international airport Enrique Malek, located in the city of David. The international flight terminal receives numerous daily flights from Copa Airlines and Air Panama.
Most Liveaboard dive safaris request a minimum divers experience level of Advanced open water diver with a minimum required of 30 logged dives. Divers need to be aware that diving south of Panama in the Pacific is unpredictable and even in the "best season" conditions may be rough.
When Eastern Pacific diving nitrox is a must. The more spectacular the diving, the longer you want to stay under. Also, you need to stay very conservative in Malpelo because there is no "nearest" decompression chamber.
Visitors to Panama require a visa unless they are citizens of one of the eligible countries who do not require a visa for up to 180 days. All visitors must hold a passport valid for 3 months.
Concerning vaccinations visitors should inform themselves by their doctor 8 weeks ahead.
Panama Diving Reviews
Panama is fine, Malpelo is a different planet.Diving Panama in February on the Inula Liveaboard