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Fishing, Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

Private overnight fishing and scuba-diving charters that operate around Isla Coiba are described below (under "Isla Coiba"); these charters normally leave from the Pedregal pier near David, or from Puerto Mutis southwest of Santiago. For lodges in Boca Chica that specialize in fishing, see below.

Exploration Panama (tel. 720-2470; www.explorationpanama.com) is the area's top fishing, boating, scuba-diving, and snorkeling operation. Their offices are in the Boquete Country Inn in Boquete, but they keep their boat docked at Boca Chica. Exploration Panama operates the M/V Little Ship, a sturdy and comfortable refurbished U.S. Coast Guard boat with a capacity for 22 day passengers, six overnighters. The boat is certified to sail through even the choppiest storm conditions.

The company offers all-inclusive sport-fishing excursions around the Gulf of Chiriquí, including to Coiba, Secas, Contreras, and Hannibal islands, or they get you out to prime fishing spots like Isla Ladrones for the day. They also specialize in day and multiday scuba diving, snorkeling, and pleasure trips around the Marine National Park. More importantly, they've begun to operate day trips in addition to their multiday trips to Isla Coiba from here, which is a real plus because now travelers in Boquete or Cerro Punta need not drive first to Santa Catalina to visit Isla Coiba -- however, they will need to spend the night in Boca Chica to get a very early start in the day. Exploration Panama also owns Wahoo Willy's, and can put together a package including meals and lodging for the 1-night/2-day tour. Also, it is a lot more reassuring to visit Isla Coiba aboard the Little Ship than aboard a fiberglass panga from Santa Catalina.

It's worth mentioning that the American/Panamanian owners of Exploration Panama, Ron and Yalty, are two of the nicest people you'll ever meet, and having been around the Chiriquí area on and off for decades, they offer a wealth of information and loads of amusing anecdotes.

Boca Brava Divers (tel. 775-3185 or 6600-6191; www.scubadiving-panama.com) is a locally based scuba-diving operation run by a friendly English-speaking Colombian named Carlos, who is a PADI dive master and has lived and dived in the Marine Park region for years. Boca Brava offers a full-day diving trip that can go as far as Islas Secas or Isla Ladrones, leaving at 7am and returning at 4pm; the cost is $150 (£75) per person. Boca Brava's boat, a 14m (46-ft.) converted commercial-fishing vessel, has live-aboard accommodations for five guests for multiday scuba-diving trips around the Gulf of Chiriquí, including to Isla Coiba.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.