Treasures on the Bottom of the Sea

Panama is a quintessential marine country, whose history and economy have long been linked to the sea. It has a privileged geographic location with coasts along the Caribbean Sea (1,207 km) and Pacific Ocean (1,700.6 km). Important marine and coastal ecosystems found on both coasts include mangroves, beaches, and coral reefs that form incredible underwater landscapes of submarine flora and fauna.

Experts are astonished by the extraordinary beauty below the Panamanian Caribbean Sea in such dive spots as:

  • The North and South Zapatillas Keys in the province of Bocas del Toro within the Bastimentos Island National Marine Park
  • Old Point
  • Hospital Point
  • Donato
  • Crawl Cay
  • Popa Island
  • Tiger Cay
  • Wild Cane Cay
  • EastWater Cay

On Colón Island, tour operators supply the necessary equipment and offer guides to safely practice this activity. Here you can go diving year-round.

The San Blas Archipelago is famous worldwide for its beautiful islands formed of coral surrounded by crystal-clear water that are perfect to go snorkeling and diving. The best months for diving are April, May, November, and December.

Portobelo Bay, Mamey Island, and Isla Grande are meeting places for divers and snorkelers. Here you will be embarking on what could be a grand adventure by diving into waters awash with history. In the 17th century this area was the scene of stormy battles among pirates and corsairs, and it is now the watery grave of the famous pirate Sir Francis Drake, who was tossed into the sea in a lead coffin. The ideal diving season is from April to May and November to December.

In the Pacific Ocean there are extensive stretches of submarine splendor, like at Coiba Island in Coiba National Park, where the longest coral reef along the Pacific coast of Central America converts the area into an enormous natural aquarium. Another option for going tankless diving or snorkeling in what will feel like a multicolor fishbowl is in Chiriquí Gulf National Marine Park, home to large species like whales and dolphins. In both sites, the best diving is had from December to March.

The closest diving sites from Panama City are found at the Contadora Islands and Taboga Island in the Pearl Archipelago. These islands offer all the facilities for diving with or without a tank.

The coral reefs at Iguana Island Wildlife Refuge are perfectly conserved and easily observable just below the surface, making it an excellent and calm place for diving or snorkeling. At Granito de Oro on Coiba Island the diver will have the fascinating experience of swimming right next to numerous large fish.

For a one-of-a-kind diving destination, head to the waters near the Panama Canal, specifically in Gatún and Alajuela lakes. Here the attraction of the dive is found in the depths of the waterway, where you will be able to spot the remains of the first pan-isthmian train and the ancient dredges that excavated the canal bed.

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