Frequently Asked Questions
Planing your Trip
Is diving in Coiba National Park suitable for beginners/courses?
Yes. The diving in Coiba National Park is suitable for all levels, and we have beautiful calm bays from which we do our confined water dives during our courses.
Can I dive with you if I am not a certified diver?
Yes. If you just want to give it a go, you can do a PADI Discover Scuba Dive or, if you are ready for the real deal, sign up for the PADI Open Water Diver course.
Do you offer snorkeling?
No, unfortunately we do not offer snorkeling. There are a number of local operators who will find the best snorkel spots for you. We specialize on diving and will choose sites according to diver’s needs only.
Do I need to know my certification number?
Yes. Please bring your card. If you have lost it we are able to look you up online if you have a PADI or SSI certification. You will not be able to dive with us without proof of certification.
Do I need dive insurance to dive with you?
Even though it is not compulsory, we highly recommend that you purchase dive insurance or ensure that your travel insurance covers scuba diving activities. We do not sell dive insurance.
What services are available in Santa Catalina?
There is a pharmacy, an ATM that usually has money (not always though) two small supermarkets and a fruit and vegetable store.
There is no bank, no doctor and no post office.
While it is possible to get petrol here, it is much more expensive, so if you are coming by car, we recommend filling up in Soná, just before the turn-off to Santa Catalina.
Is internet available?
Yes, high speed internet is available at our shop. But when the electricity goes, so does the WiFi.
Is it safe to bring children/infants onto the boat/island?
Only certified minors who are 12 years or older are welcome to join our tours. The minimum age to do a scuba diving course is 10 years old.
Is diving possible during the rainy season?
Absolutely. Just keep in mind: in the rainy season you’ll most likely get wet in the boat, and the rides can be a bit bumpy due to sea conditions. We highly recommend bringing a rain jacket and/or something warm to wear in between dives.
Do I need to make a reservation?
If you are in Santa Catalina for a limited amount of time, we recommend making a reservation. Especially in the high season our boats are sometimes full days in advanced. If all your questions have been answered, you can go ahead and book here.
If you have some flexibility and would like to stay in the area for a few days, feel free to just pop in to say ‘Hi’ and check out availability.
Do I have to sign a liability release before diving with you?
Yes, you do. When you make a reservation, you will be sent a link so you can fill in the waiver before your arrival to simplify the check in process. If you don’t have time before your trip or are already on the road, you can also fill it in here upon arrival.
Can you organize accommodation at the ranger’s station in Coiba?
The cabins located at the ranger’s station are not yet open, so it is not possible to stay there for now.
Money and Payments
Do I have to make a deposit to ensure my booking?
Yes. In order to plan our trips we require a non-refundable deposit as confirmation that you are going to come. You can do this via our secure booking site using a credit card. Contact us for further information on other payment methods. Final payment is due the day before the trip.
Can I pay with a credit card?
Yes, you can pay with Visa or Master Card. Please note that the entrance fee to the park needs to be paid in cash.
Do you charge extra if I pay with my credit card?
When you make an online booking, there will be both a booking fee and a credit card surcharge. For any payments made directly at the shop, there is no additional fee when using your credit card.
What currency is used in Panama?
While the official currency is the balboa, Panama does not print its own money and the US dollar is used.
Do I get a discount if I bring my own equipment?
There are no discounts for bringing your own equipment.
If I lose or damage equipment from you, will you charge me?
We ask you to look after our equipment very carefully. While we account for general wear and tear, you will be charged for lost or grossly damaged equipment. You will be asked to sign an agreement.
How much is my entrance fee to the park?
The daily entrance fee is $20 for foreigners and $5 for Panamanians and residents. Please bring proof of your nationality or resident status, as we will ask to see it in the shop where we collect all the fees.
Can I pay with cryptocurrency?
Of course, BTC and XRP! Simply contact us to find out how.
The Big Day
When do I need to check in at the dive shop?
If you have made a reservation, we would like you to come to the dive shop the day before your booked trip to try on rental fins (if you are not bringing your own) and verify other rental gear sizes. Also, if possible, we like to finalize payments, take a copy of your passport and verify your certification the day before, so that on the day of the tour all you need to think about is diving. If you are arriving in Santa Catalina after 6.30pm, please be at the shop no later than 7.15am (we have coffee!).
If you do not make a reservation, we recommend coming in as soon as you arrive in Santa Catalina to check availability and sign up for the day you’d like to dive.
What do I need to bring to Coiba?
In the dry season all you will need to bring is sun protection. While the boats have shade, you will still be exposed to the sun quite a bit. We recommend a long sleeve shirt to cover yourself (sarong, hat…) and reef-friendly sunscreen. In the rainy season you should bring a rain jacket as well as sunscreen, we never know what the day might bring.
Do I need to bring food/water on the trip?
We provide a sandwich, fruit and water. If you tend to feel hungry when diving, we recommend you bring a snack for the ride back. We provide water from the tap in reusable aluminum bottles in order to reduce our impact on the environment. In most areas the water in Santa Catalina is safe to drink (check with your hotel first, since it depends where they get their water from). You are welcome to bring your own water if you don’t want to drink tap water or even bring your own bottle and refill it here.
Do you have a dry spot on your boat?
We recommend you do not bring valuables, important papers or electronics onto the boat. Especially during the rainy season, we can’t guarantee that your things will remain dry. If you’d like to bring a towel or a jacket, we have a few dry bags you can borrow to keep them dry during the trip. At the shop we have a safe in which you can place any valuables you don’t want to leave at the hotel.
How many people are there on the boat?
There are a maximum of 6 divers, 1 instructor, 1 boat assistant and 1 captain on the boats.
How many divers are in a group underwater?
There will be a maximum of 6 divers per instructor underwater. If you are doing an Open Water Course or a DSD, there will be a maximum of 4 people in the group.
Do I have to wear a wetsuit?
It is up to you what kind of protection you want to wear. When temperatures drop we highly recommend the use of a wetsuit in order to keep you warm and make for a more enjoyable dive, but during the warmer months some divers choose to only wear a rash guard. We have ScubaPro 3mm long wetsuits available for you.
Do I need a dive computer?
If you don’t have your own computer, you (or your buddy team) will be given one to use at no additional cost. During the briefing we will explain how to use it, if you are unfamiliar with it.
Should I dive with Nitrox?
Due to our profiles it is not really necessary to dive with Nitrox. However, if you feel more comfortable using Enriched Air or are planing on doing a lot of diving, just let us know and we will mix it for you at 32%. It’s only $10 extra per tank. Please remember to bring your Nitrox certification. If you don’t have one, you can get certified with us.
Can I dive on my own?
Due to the sometimes difficult conditions and unexpected changes in currents and climate, we do not allow our divers to dive without in-water supervision by one of our dive masters/instructors, no matter what their certification level may be. Safety first!
Can I touch the animals under water?
Absolutely not. All our dive sites are located in Coiba National Park, and no animals may be touched. During a strong current, it may be necessary to hold onto something. Make sure it is a rock and not coral, since coral is a living organism that will die (or cause painful stings) if you touch it.
Can you guarantee that I will see whale sharks/dolphins/humpback whales…?
Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee any sightings. It is highly likely that you will see most animals in season, but we are all at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Can I collect shells on the beaches in Coiba National Park?
The islands that you will be taken to are within the limits of a national park, and therefore it is not allowed to take anything.