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“Not good for single day divers” 1 of 5 stars
Review of Coiba Dive Center

Coiba Dive Center
Calle Principal (Main Street), Santa Catalina, Panama
+507 6780-1141
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Type: Water sports
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Attraction Details
Owner description: The Best Diving in Panama. Coiba Dive Center is located in the heart of Santa Catalina, Panama, just a one-hour boat ride to world class diving. Coiba National Park has been described by many as the "New Galapagos" and the "New Cocos," Isla Coiba is by far the best diving Panama has to offer.
Boston, Massachusetts
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Not good for single day divers”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2013

Hi,
If you notice, the top reviews are for certification divers and overnight on Coiba divers. As the stars drop you get to the reviews from single day divers/snorklers. I was one of the unlucky ones who didn't figure this out and booked a single day trip. Our day revolved around the schedule of the cash cow overnight guests and we left feeling short changed. Our day was cut short by a dive and the sites were selected for proximity to the overnight accommodations not marine life. I would encourage you to ask if there are any overnight guests on your boat and switch companies if so.

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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31 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
San Francisco, California
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Try elsewhere”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 14, 2013

The Coiba Dive Center didn't do anything really horrible, but the experience was not great. If you have the time I recommend shopping around. Since we didn't dive with any other shops I can't guarantee there is a better option but I'm guessing there is.

The good points of the day were all related to the wonderful diving offered in the islands which any company has equal access to.

The complaints we had we related to interaction with the staff of CDC and a bad value for your money. We exchanged a few emails before arriving in Santa Catalina and they seemed both courteous and professional but once we arrived in town things changed dramatically. We felt unwelcome from the first visit to the shop and had a bad feeling about diving with them but we really wanted to dive and our time in SC was short so we went for it based on the TA reviews.

We noticed a series of "white lies" in our interactions that left a bad impression:
1) The day we went over to put in a deposit for THREE dives the following day it was storming so we asked about predictions for the following day. Julie stated that there was no way to predict the weather and they almost always went so don't worry about weather. When we showed up the following morning she let us know that since there may be weather we could only do two dives. OK...
As it turns out several people had booked the overnight package on Coiba so she needed to stay with them and therefore couldn't lead a third dive for the rest of the group-not weather related at all.
2) Next, while preparing for the first dive of the day (great dive!) she and a crew member stated in Spanish that a hose on one of the divers' equipment was messed up and needed to be changed. In English she told the girl she wanted everyone on PSI not Bar so she needed to change out the hose. At that point she remembered my wife spoke Spanish and looked embarrassed. Not a big deal, but why make an excuse up at all? Just felt weird.
3) Finally and most importantly our next/last dive was WEAK. Nothing we didn't see at the first site and honestly boring. It made no sense until we finished and "conveniently" drove 2 minutes to the overnight accommodations for the people staying on Coiba with Julie. She tried to sell us on the site, but it was obviously not what you would expect in Coiba and not what we paid for.

Our day was cut short and our second dive was picked for it's convenient location for the overnighters. We paid full price but received less than expected and felt that they were not completely honest. If you are like us and only have one day to dive choose your company carefully or you may miss out!

I can't say whether any other shops are better, but for the price they provided less than you would want from a day in the wonderful Coiba preserve.

Visited September 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bellbrook, OH
Top Contributor
101 reviews 101 reviews
32 attraction reviews
Reviews in 52 cities Reviews in 52 cities
75 helpful votes 75 helpful votes
“Great Dive Trip and Overnight Stay on Coiba.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2013

Booked the 3 day/2 night dive trip to Coiba and loved every minute of it. Kevin our dive master was fun and always trying really hard to find some good marine life. Lots of sharks, eels, mobula rays, jacks, etc. All that you expect. The dive trip exceeded my expectations and so did Coiba DIve Center. I recommend this place highly. To show you how far the owner goes to help her customers. I forgot my bathing suit in the previous hotel and she went home and got one of her suits and let me use it the whole time! Now that's service! Otherwise I was gonna dive in my pajamas! hahaha!

Visited January 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Brilliant day of diving”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2013

We did our best diving in Panama with Coiba Dive Centre. We did three brilliant dives and on each one saw massive shoals of fish, reef sharks and sea turtles. They guarantee seeing sharks or your money back and they seem to know where to go to find them, so you won't be disappointed. Be prepared for a bumpy hour in the small boat each way, but it is well worth it. Coiba is a beautiful place and to top it off we saw dolphins on the way back. Their gear varies in quality, most suits are fine. Other gear is just ok and as they set up all the gear for you in advance (personally I prefer doing it myself so that I can check it), they carry spares for everything on the boat.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
2 reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Good diving, poor service”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 6, 2013

The diving itself was quite nice. We saw 6 sharks on our first dive as well as a manta ray and large schools of fish. Unfortunately, the service was a little poor. The equipment was in very bad shape, so you better bring your own if you can. On the upside, we did a two tank dive and underwater time was almost an hour on each dive.

Visited May 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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