Snorkeling and Diving in Pacific Panama, fantastics options for spicing up your tour of Panama


Visitors on Panama tours interested in either sport will find a multitude of locales to do so on the Pacific, near the capital, in central Panama and at the far western reaches of the isthmus where two marine national parks are located.

While staying in Panama City, one idyllic spot is the Archipelago de las Perlas, a day trip from the capital. Snorkeling is divine off the archipelago's Isla Contadora, made famous by the "Survivor" television series, where five coral fields are found. Dive trips from the island are also popular with twenty or so different diving spots of interest in an area frequented by white-tipped reef sharks, manta rays and moray eels.

Heading west into central Panama's Azuero Peninsula, visitors on Panama tours will find the most varied of the country's coral gardens, in an area of almost forty acres off of Isla Iguana. It is reached by boat from the colonial town of Pedasi.

To the west of the Azuero Peninsula lies the Gulf of Chiriqui, home to two of Panama's three marine national parks. In the more easterly of the two parks, Coiba Marine National Park, visitors on Panama tours will find a massive 330,000-acre coral reef on the in Damas Bay on the east side of Coiba, an island off compared to the Galapagos. The park is known for its great diversity of marine wildlife, especially the large species that inhabit these waters including humpback whales, manta rays, hammerhead sharks. On the islet of Granito de Oro, off the north coast of Coiba are fields of brain and fan coral. Other of the park's great snorkeling spots are found around the islands of Rahcheria, Uvas and Contreras.

Gulf of Chiriqui Marine National Park is located east of the provincial city of David and comprises over twenty islands, an area where the reefs contain Porites lobata and fire coral species. Some of the islands closer to shore, including Las Ventanas, Linarte and Saino, are popular with snorkelers on Panama tours. Though some might find the islands further from shore too far to go, snorkerlers and divers will be rewarded with clear waters and uninhabited islands.