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“Great trip to Coiba!” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Panama Dive Center

Panama Dive Center
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: We offer SCUBA DIVE products and Services and all PADI Courses at Coiba's National Park, we are the first PADI Dive Resort Authorized in Santa Catalina and also the Lonely Planet's TOP Choice.
San Salvador, El Salvador
Level Contributor
20 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Great trip to Coiba!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 January 2015

I had a great time diving with Panama Dive Center. It's a very professional shop with the largest boat and good equipment. Camilo the owner was very responsive through email, so I had a reservation confirmed before we arrived. Divers are given a light lunch on the island (sandwich, fruit, and water).

Both Camilo and Santi were our dive masters. They were very courteous and explained safety procedures, etc. clearly, especially important in Coiba where there are some pretty strong currents. On our last dive, we saw a pair of frogfish... Camilo held onto a rock and held me still in the current so I could have both hands free to get a great picture! The extra help was very much appreciated.

Panama Dive Center is definitely the company to dive with in Coiba!

Visited December 2014
Helpful?
Thank Vanessa C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2 reviews
“Excellent All Round”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 7 January 2015 via mobile

The whole operation was excellent. Supported by the fact this is my first review on trip advisor.
Camilo ran the centre superbly and couldn't have been any more helpful- not only with diving but additional local information.
Santi was our divemaster on the first day and went out of his way to make us comfortable over the course of our two day trip including the island.
On top of the dive centre itself the dives were brilliant. I'm sure in a few years Coiba will be much busier with divers specifically and luckily Panama Dive Centre will be there to cater to their every need.

Helpful?
Thank Zara-Mai E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PanamaDiveCenter, Propietario at Panama Dive Center, responded to this review, 11 February 2015
Thank you very much for your comments and the general review. I hope you can come back and enjoy again the simplicity of this place with the same attitude you did this time.
Cheers,
Camilo
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Absolutely Can't miss this”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 January 2015 via mobile

My wife and I did a day trip to Coiba with Santi and Peter from PDC. We were the only two snorkeling along with 7 divers. They took us to 3 of the most amazing underwater habitats as well as lunch on the main Island. Everything about the trip from booking to parting ways after the day was extremely professional, relaxed, well organized and easy. Santi told us where to go to see the best ocean life at each stop and then my wife and I were free to explore while the two guides went with the divers. If you are ever in Santa Catalina you should stop by and see the crew at PDC. They will make sure you have a spectacular trip. I'll be back for sure.

Helpful?
Thank Philip K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PanamaDiveCenter, Propietario at Panama Dive Center, responded to this review, 11 February 2015
I personally appreciate your review, this encourage us to improve our service completely in this field (snorkeling service).
We are making our service experience the best for divers and snorkelers and want to improve based on the clients experience.
Best regards,
Camilo
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
86 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Big boat!! And very good service”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 December 2014

Definitively is the best scuba group in Santa Catalina. We did one trip with them, and then they didn't had more space so we had to go with Coiba dive center (near the beach) and our friends with the other Coiba dive center almost across that one. Our guide (Santiago )from Panama dive Center was always aware that we were ok and the whole team took care of all. They even prepared the lunch for us and took cold water. The other 2 places didn't include lunch, the water wasn't cold and they mostly let us dive by ourselves. But the most important thing is that Panama Dive Center has a very comfortable big boat.

Visited December 2014
Helpful?
Thank claumun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PanamaDiveCenter, Owner at Panama Dive Center, responded to this review, 8 February 2015
All the staff and the crew, really appreciate your review.
Thanks so much for your comments. Help us, to keep improving our service.
Best regards,
Camilo
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bogota, Colombia
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Just disappointing... Camilo is a super nice person until there is trouble, there he forgets manners and submits to gre”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 December 2014

I really dislike to give bad reviews, but we had big expectations on Panama Dive center and diving in Coiba. Sadly for us for the lack of good management, and above all lack of respect coming from Camilo, the owner, we couldn't enjoy Coiba in the way we wanted. We were forgotten in Coiba Island for half a day, when we asked for a refund Camilo said it wasn't his fault we didn't want to dive so he was not going to refund our money. I most clarify that the staff that work there are very nice and when they got aware of the situation they recognize their mistake and tried to solve it. Camilo is a super nice person until there is trouble, there he forgets manners and submits to greed. Here is our story.

On evening day 1 we approached to the shop and spoke to a german lady that works there and with Camilo, we arranged three dives on day 3 because we were going to do a snorkelling tour on day 2, overnight on the island and they would pick us up there the next day to do our dives. We paid 155 USD in advance and thought everything was ready.

On day 2 we did the 1 hr boat ride to Coiba did a marvellous snorkelling tour with other shop and slept in Coiba cabins bringing only food for breakfast being sure Panama dive center was going to pick us up before lunch. Around noon that day I meet Peter at the visitors centre on the island where I asked him a what time I had to be ready for the pick up the next day, he told me between 9:30 to 10.

On day 3 we woke up had breakfast and got ready for the pick up. At noon nobody had shown up to pick us up. Since the only phone on the Island wasn't working I personally used the park ranger's radio to try to contact the boat to see what had happen. We didn't get any answer from them , but other boat on the area told us they had left Santa Catalina early in the morning. Worried we kept waiting...

About 12:45 pm, Peter showed up on a small boat explaining us that they had a misunderstood and the regular staff in the regular boat thought we were in Santa Catalina and that we didn't showed up for the tour. Peter was on his free day but when he got aware of this, took some equipment into a boat a went for us. Peter did a great job trying to solve everything and since he is a very professional divemaster, he told us we could only do two good dives and he would refund the third.

However the third one is only 25 USD beacuse they give you a discount for the third, so nobody would take us for 25 USD to Coiba to do one dive. Besides this, all divers know that the most important thing in this sport is safety and coffidence, my girlfriend who has over 100 dives on her, was very upset crying and didn't want to dive with them anymore claiming she didn't trust that dive centre . Hence we told Peter we just wanted a refund. He understood, took us back to Santa Catalina but argue that Camilo the owner had to agree with it. Camilo wasn't in town so we agreed to call him at 4 pm.

We called him, he was very upset and wasn't the nice Camilo anymore. The only thing he did was ask what I wanted, so I asked for a refund. He said that was not going to happen because it wasn't his fault we didn't want to dive. The discussion was very rough, he was super impolite and myself and my girlfriend tried to reason with him but he even suggested that he never told us a what time we were supposed to be picked up (he didn't but his staff did). After a long talk he came up with two solutions.

The first was he would take us diving the next day covering the park's entrance fee. At the begging we didn't want this due to Camilo's attitude and the lack of confidence that we had. The second was he would refund only 110 USD because he would charge us for the pick up fee since he returned us on a boat, it was 45 USD each. We couldn't accept this, the minimum dive price there is 130 USD and how after he had forgotten us on the island he had the lack of respect to charge us for the pick up??? Eventually, since we loved the snorkelling, we really wanted to dive in Coiba and it was take the first option or no dive, we agreed to dive on the next day.

I have to say that the staff were always aware of the mistake and tried to calm and solve the situation, however the one capable of solving was Camilo just recognizing their mistake and saying sorry, that never happened. Its important to remind that in any case when a service provider such a diving centre makes a mistake, it is on the client's will to accept some proposal or ask for a refund, Camilo apparently forgot this and apparently only had the greedy desire of keeping our money.

P.F: Just in case you plan to snorkel try a snorkelling shop where they have a guide with you in the water, otherwise you would end alone floating around the diving sites while divers dive. Ask for Jorge in Santa Catalina he is excellent!!

Visited December 2014
Helpful?
5 Thank juanquintero67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
PanamaDiveCenter, Propietario at Panama Dive Center, responded to this review, 4 February 2015
Juan, I feel very sorry you have this personal negative feeling towards me. I would like to apologize publicly for the internal misunderstanding that caused your pick up from Coiba Island to be delayed.
As you mentioned in your review, as soon as we did our check list after the regular boat left and realized our mistake, we immediately organized a new boat, with the petrol and the instructor, to pick you up and give you the experience we promised and you paid for.
During the rainy season we explain to all of our clients (as we explained to you) that we can only guarantee 2 dives and the regular boat did only these 2, because of the weather conditions. When your personal instructor, Peter, came back, he told me your partner had decided not to do any dives because she had lost her confidence in us and was afraid "he would leave her alone under water like we had left you abandoned on the island". Based on that I was able to offer you 2 options, a refund of $100 each or go diving the next day for free, not even paying the park fees ($40 the Dive Resort assumed).
I sincerely believe that my whole team and I did our best to do both, correct the delay in your pick-up and provide a more than satisfactory experience for you in Coiba when you went diving with Peter the next day and it saddens me that you went home with a personal grudge instead of beautiful memories.

Camilo.
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