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Tuesday, November 13 2018 @ 01:20 AM UTC

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Scuba Diving Opportunities in Panama

Travel & Tourism By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Today someone asked about scuba diving opportunities in Panama on the Americans in Panama Yahoo Email group, and this was Richard's excellent response - the best two minute summary I've seen in a long time, that just about wraps it up: "There is diving around Boca Chica, Isla Coiba, the Pearl Islands out from Panama City (most people just call PC Panama), Portobello, Nombre de Dios and Bocas at least. Unfortunately the Kuna only allow snorkeling in the Kuna Yala, but that's definitely the healthiest reef and clearest water I've seen in my limited time in Panama.

The mud diving right in Portobello kinda sucks due to the vis, but I've heard that boat trips to Drake Island have been enjoyed by friends. There used to be 2-3 dive shops there. In Nombre de Dios, there's only one resort (Jimmy's Caribbean Dive Resort) but I believe they allow a la carte diving. There a little shore dive right in front with lots of swim-throughs, but the best diving is miles away, by boat. We dived there 2-3 times a day for a week, and 60% of the dives were very good. We dived the Pirate's Junkyard one afternoon and found lots of old bottles. Lots of fun raking through the muck in 15' of water and coming up with bags of loot. And Jimmy, a rocker from the deep south, is always entertaining.

I've dived several times in Bocas, but the sites we dived had very limited vis or not much to see or both. The best dive was between Bocastown and Isla Caranera, right in the middle of the channel. There was quite a bit of nice coral there. The dives in Bocas were cheaper than elsewhere and there are at least a couple of dive shops near the water taxi pier.

Friends have dived with Carlos in Boca Chica (just ask anyone in town for directions to his dock and boat storage), and went just around the corner of Isla Boca Brava where they encountered large schools of fish.

I don't know anyone that's dived the Pearl Islands (Isla Contadora) but know people spearfish there. I've heard it mentioned a lot so might be worth checking out.

Isla Coiba has the best diving I've done in Panama. The closest dive shop and boat ride is in Santa Catalina, a town that gives many the creeps. There was one dive shop there a couple of years ago that Herbie Sunk owned that's open all year long. There were another 2 or 3 that only opened in the dry season. That IS dated information. It's about 1.5 hours out to Coiba and surrounds, and a rough 1.5 hours back usually, in an open panga. When we were there, the vis ranged from 15-25', dark at 60' with a stiff thermocline as well so we stayed above 60'. Saw lots of whitetip reef sharks, turtles, mobula rays, tons of reef fish, some coral and sponges, crown of thorns starfish, etc. I could spend days diving that area and not get bored. For the surface interval they'll take you to Isla Coiba to register at the ranger station, pay a fee, and hang out for lunch. There are barebones accommodations there if you want to make a multi-day trip out of it. There were 1 or 2 liveaboards that offered multi-day trips out there, well worth it if still available.

There is also diving off of Pedasi on a couple of islands just offshore. I've heard good things about that, and plan to check it out in June. I remember at least one dive shop there but that was 4 years ago. There may be more by now.

Nitrox and deep diving are pretty much unknowns here for the most part. I think one shop in Panama offers technical training, but since you're probably not diving below 60' anyway it's a moot point.

The water is temperate on both sides, so a 3 mil wetsuit would probably be plenty, with a hood for extra warmth.

I haven't been snorkeling much but I hear it's fantastic in some places in the Kuna Yala. We dived off of one of the Kuna islands, and the shallow coral was pristine, with excellent vis. You can get package deals with hotel/lodging, food and maybe some boat trips to the Kuna Yala. I've never made the trip but it's on my bucket list and I've heard great things about stays there if you're easily entertained and enjoy simple food.

If you google SCUBA and each of those destinations, you might find some info online. Otherwise, look in your Panama guidebooks for contact info and general info. A guidebook might help you determine your itinerary as well, as there's lots of local information and you can zoom in by area.

Happy hunting!"

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Latest Link Swapper - Jungle Land Panama

Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Welcome aboard to our most recent link swapper - Jungle Land Panama. From their web page: "The Isthmus of Panama was formed just over 3 million years ago. This land bridge has allowed animals and plants of two continents to mix and mingle. This is why Panama is so rich in flora and fauna. Lake Gatun was coonstructed between the years 1906-1914. The lake is part of an aquatic bridge that links the caribbean sea to the pacific ocean. When you consider the nature, history, and the Panama Canal, Lake Gatun is one of the most interesting places found on this planet. Our excursions showcase all that is the best of this special region of the world."

Become A Link Swapper: If you have a website of any kind with English language content that has something to do with the Republic of Panama then you might want to consider participating in our long standing link exchange program. All you have to do is put a link on your website somewhere back to www.panama-guide.com, and then I will link back to you and feature your website or business in an article just like this one. Exchanging valid links with other websites with valid content is a valuable SEO tool and a strategy which helps to establish your website as the leader in your category. At this point if you're not swapping links with Panama Guide - well then you're just missing out. Anyway, go take a tour with Jungle Land Panama and send me a photo of you swapping spit with a crocodile or something and I'll make you famous. For all the wrong reasons, but who cares, right? If you're a hot chick, a string bikini would be a plus (grin). You can be #1 on Google for anyone who searches for "hot chick in a bikini kissing a crocodile in Panama." I tried to find something sexy on their website, and this was the best I could come up with...

Group Sex In The Jungle in Panama - Go ahead, do a Google search and see what you get - it's all good.

Copyright 2011 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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US Recession Causes Dip in Tourism to Bocas del Toro

Travel & TourismBocas del Toro has seen a decrease in investment, as well as in the numbers of arrivals of foreign tourists, due to the economic recession in the United States. Jose Anderson, the Mayor of the District of Bocas del Toro, whose region bases its economy on tourism, said the economic problems in the United States are affecting investment and visitors to the province. Construction realized mostly by Americans have suffered a serious decline, which in turn has caused an important decrease on the coffers of the municipality, while the lack of visitors create a direct detriment on the inhabitants in the region, who work as passenger boat drivers, water taxis, tour guides, etc.

The area which includes more than 50 islands, primarily Isla Colon, Bastimentos, Carenero, and Bocatorito, has seen investments in structures of more than $25 million dollars in recent years. Places were just ten years ago went unnoticed both at home and abroad are now tourist resorts worth millions of dollars.

ACTIVITY: IMPROVEMENTS - The province of Bocas del Toro has become a leading tourist destination for both Panamanians and foreigners, and the authorities, in this case Mayor Anderson, are confident the situation will improve in the coming months. (La Critica)

Editor's Comment: Yup. Obviously if you've lost your job and your house, you probably don't have the money to blow on a vacation to Bocas del Toro or anywhere else for that matter. Many people in Bocas are looking towards the upcoming dry season with high hopes of a turn-around.

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New Ice Skating Rink To Open At The Punta Pacifica Mall

Travel & TourismBy DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Our own Manny Landron played an important role in bringing the new Ice Skating Rink to the Multi Plaza mall for the holiday season. It's now installed and almost ready to go. They've got about 180 pairs of rental skates for the little (and big) kids to use. The cost will be $5 for 30 minutes, and they are still working out the details on things like shows with professional skaters, group classes, and stuff like that. This has been put together by Magic Dreams, the company that brings all kinds of events and shows to Panama. Jenny Hall, who was a professional ice skater several years ago, was the first person on the ice. While she was doing scratch spins and toe loops, I strapped on a pair of ill fitting rental skates and tried to take a few laps. It's funny how my brain still thought it was the winter of 1979 - 1980, when I spent many hours every day playing hockey on the frozen lake in Fancher Davidge Park with my buds, taking on Mitch and his crew from Scotchtown. Back then I played defense, and could skate backwards better than I could walk. However that was more than 30 years ago, and I proved that by being the first person to fall flat on my ass on the ice - lucky for me there was nothing hurt but my pride, and the Panamanians got a kick out of seeing the old, fat gringo do a butt-plant on the ice. I managed to get back up and take a few laps around the ice before making my way back to the bench and the safety of my Reebok sneakers. Anyway, the new ice rink will be open for business on Thursday, 18 November 2010, and will remain open until 10 January 2011. The hours will mirror those of the mall, so if the mall is open the ice is open. This will be a nice addition for the holiday season. Have a great time.

Jenny Hall, about to land a toe-loop.

The ice rink is located in the Multi Plaza mall, right in front of the Sanborns store. It measures 40 feet wide by 60 feet long.

Jenny Hall (no relation to JRH) makes it look easy. She drew a several rounds of applause from the curious onlookers.

Copyright 2010 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panaviacion - Flight Design CTLS On Floats Available

Travel & TourismThere's some good news for people who love small islands and hidden beaches: The Flight Design Light Sport CTLS aircraft is now available with floats! Represented in the Republic of Panama by PANAVIACION Corp., the exclusive distributor for the best-selling light sport aircraft, Flight Design has now made the CLTS available with floats and wheels for all of those countries that have a lot of coastline or lakes, like Panama. In this configuration the CLTS is capable of landing on both water and runways. Here's how it looks:

The Flight Design CLTS with floats. (Photo: Airtime Aviation Inc.)

Enhanced Capabilities: This latest extension makes the best-selling CTLS even more attractive and useful. It adds approximately 32,000 EUR to the pricetag, a decent increase for the benefits you get:

  • Accessibility to islands, coasts, beaches and lakes;

  • Independence from runways;

Contact Information: For more information or details, please contact:

PANAVIACION Corp.

jay@panaviacion.com

Mobile 6455 1304

Website: PANAVIACION CORP

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2010-11 Cruise Ship Season Starts With The Arrival of the "Ocean Dream"

Travel & Tourism At approximately 7:00 am this morning the cruise ship Ocean Dream of the Spanish Pullmantur company docked at the "Home Port Colon 2000." Janelle Lazarus, the regional director of the Panama Tourism Authority, said they have coordinated with the Tourist Police, taxi drivers and tour operators to serve the arrival of this cruise ship. Likewise, Lazarus urged the community to show the best side of the Atlantic side city to the visiting tourists. Meanwhile, at 11:00 am, it is expected the manager of the Panama Tourism Authority, Solomon Shamah, will arrive at the port area. About 200 people from Panama as well as from South American countries will board the vessel tomorrow, Saturday, and the luxury vessel will depart at night for Colombia. (La Prensa)
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Secluded Whale Mating Ground a Boon for Awestruck Whale Watchers

Travel & TourismCHICAGO -- Travel enthusiasts and real estate mavens are discovering that Panama's Gulf of Chiriqui is the hottest new vacation destination -- a secret humpback whales have been onto for centuries. Among the dozens of pristine emerald islands, humpback whales spend their extended summer vacation breeding and calving in the warm waters of the protected Gulf. Abe Zimmerman, Sales Director for The Resort at Isla Palenque, an ecologically sensitive Panama real estate project in the Gulf of Chiriqui, was taking customers out to view the island property when he experienced his first whale sighting. "We were cruising through the Gulf, remarking that we were the only people in sight among all of these beautiful islands. Out of nowhere, an enormous humpback shot out of the water. My breath has never been taken away like that before." Whale watching is one of the many adventure opportunities that attracted Amble Resorts, developer of The Resort at Isla Palenque, to the secluded Gulf of Chiriqui. The Gulf has long been the best-kept secret of serious sport fishing fans, and has recently been discovered by adventure sport enthusiasts who come to revel in the surfing, scuba diving, and of course, whale watching opportunities the uncrowded Gulf has to offer. (more)
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PANAVIACION - Become A Pilot. Own Your Plane.

Travel & Tourism Welcome to the world of affordable flying. Does that tagline ring a bell inside? Wanted for ever to be a pilot or return to flying? Lacking time or couldn't afford it? Afraid to fail a medical examination? Times are changing and Light Sport Aircraft are changing the world of General Aviation. These are beautiful technically advanced 2-seaters, with carbon fibre or metal body, latest avionics, and a roomy cockpit, able to stay airborne for up to 6 hours. Even an airframe parachute is part of the standard equipment. With cruising speed up to 120 kt, reaching all of Panama and some neighbor countries non-stop. Purchase prices are between $100,000 and up to $150,000. Means not more than a middle class car in shared ownership models of 3 or 4 owners. And mileage is 25 mpg of Mogas, again better than most cars. It's planes for leisure and business. Visit the more than 50 airstrips all across Panama and its islands for fun. Or flying to projects and meetings away from the city, replacing a day of car driving by few hours of flying, saving the precious time of business owners and managers. PANAVIACION Corp. is exclusive distributor for the best-selling light sport aircraft, manufactured by FlightDesign, Germany. (more)
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Traditional Panamanian Rodeo with a Gringo Twist

Travel & TourismTraditional Panamanian Rodeo with a Gringo Twist, August 29th in La Chorerra - It's that time of year again! The gringo rodeo is back and you are all invited. The events start at around 3 in the afternoon and will carry on late into the night. Every year my family has our rodeo in the areas around Chorrera. Ours is one of the biggest ones of the year, and last year we had almost 3,500 people attend. Being that I am an American, our rodeo is also unique in that many people from the English speaking community attend this event. Last year we had around 300 expats in attendance. This is the perfect opportunity for you to get immersed in some Panamanian culture while still being with other expats. Admission is only $3, and beers are only 60 cents. There will be Panamanian food for sale, as well as singing, dancing, fireworks, rodeo, and a performance by Tipico music star Ulpiano Vergara in the evening. If you have been wanting to see the local side of Panama but weren´t sure where to do it, this is a must do. The rodeo is in a new location this year in the Centro Recreativo Bonanza in Santa Rita De La Chorrera. If you are interested and need information or directions, please call me at 6733-0657 or e-mail me at jerin@panagringo.com and I will get all the information for you.

Directions: From the Panamerican Highway between Capira and La Chorrera take the road to Santa Rita and Arenosa. The rodeo will be on the left hand side 3.4kilometers from the highway. The rodeo is about 40 minutes form Panama City and 30 minutes from Coronado.

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Hotels in Panama 66% Occupied

Travel & Tourism About 66% of the hotel rooms in the country are occupied. Panama's tourism industry recovered its growth in the first half of 2010. This is made clear from statistics provided by the Tourism Authority of Panama. According to this data, there has been an increase of 26,588 additional visitors, or an increase of 4.3%, compared to the same period last year in which a total of 649.257 tourists visited Panama. Similarly, this rise in the number of visitors is also reflected in the rates of hotel room occupancy, which had a substantial, rally, because the occupancy rate is 66% of the total number of hotel rooms available in the country - 872,780 rooms. In Panama, the hotels are divided into: Group 1: this refers to those with more than 100 rooms and / or special services (such as the Plaza Paitilla, Riande Continental, and Miramar Intercontinental, among others) and Group 2: referred to Hotels with fewer than 100 rooms and / or special services (such as the Aramo, Hotel Eurpoa, California, etc.) Panama has 557,794 hotel rooms in Group 1 - of these, 74.8% were occupied. There are also 314,986 rooms in Group 2 - of which 50.3% are occupied. The Panamanian Association of Hotels thinks this increase will be maintained through the end of the year. (El Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Do these numbers sound off to you? Are there really a total of 872,780 hotel rooms in Panama? I guess that's possible, but it sounds like a high number.

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