12th of March 2020 – in full high season for Panama’s tourism industry – everything was turned upside down. Coiba National Park followed the example of schools and closed. A day later, boat travel was forbidden and diving has been stopped completely for the whole country.
7 months later on the 12th of October, the international airport and the hotel sector re-opened, but access to beaches stayed prohibited. Access to beaches and diving was allowed again on the 31st of October. Scuba Coiba made its first trip on the 1st of November, a long weekend. After hurricane Eta stroke Panamá with nasty weather a few days later, beaches have been closed again and Coiba closed too.
The beaches have been opened since, but Coiba remained closed for some reasons not really understandable and re-opened again 7th of December. Scuba Coiba did 2 dive trips on the 7th and 8th already.
Business is still slow of course and tourism is pretty much reduced to people living in and around Panama City, coming for a weekend to surf Santa Catalina or visit Coiba. Current early lockdown hours in Panama City make it very difficult to impossible to return back to the city after a Sunday visiting Coiba, which is another knock out for our business. Santa Catalina reminds me of a ghost town again.
The government did not come up with any support program so far (after 9 months of no income and cero support – with the exception of a bag worth of USD 20.00 of basic food supply per month) and has not – at least has not published – any viable short- and midterm plan for the recuperation of our sector (well, for no sector, except, agro and banks).
So, times are difficult and dire. The outlook for the next weeks and months does not show any light at the end of the dark tunnel. But we will continue, somehow, and are hopeful that times will get better end of 2021.
NO, we are not begging for money as support.
We want to say hello to you and hope you are well and tell you that we have survived and are still here. And YES, we want your support, need your support and ask you that you come diving with us! Give us your trust and loyalty and receive in exchange for our best service you can expect!
We still offer:
• To be the FIRST dive center in Santa Catalina / Coiba unparalleled experience (since 2003)
• Qualified and experienced PADI professionals with many years and 1.000s of dive around Coiba and local spots
• 60-minute dives – if air and Deco time allows
• NITROX (already here and soon installed, hopefully beginning of next month)
• No group mixing of experienced, inexperienced divers and no divers
• Advanced diving for advanced divers
What has changed because of the new Bio Security rules?
• We are catering to family bubbles and private groups on private boats for up to a maximum of 5 divers (family bubbles and private groups can of course mix different experience levels or divers with no-divers)
• 4 – 5 divers maximum per boat, only 20 divers per day at Coiba
• While we can provide full rental, we prefer you to bring your own masks and mouthpieces
• If you are alone or a pair of buddies and do not want to pay for a whole boat, let us know your date(s) and we will try to find others, who are happy to share a boat – following all safety procedures.
• We provide drinking water (please bring you refillable bottle or cup – there is already enough waste) and some pre-packed snacks (bananas, cookies) but no food, as we are not allowed to handle prepared meals.
So, if you want to support us and keep us going PLUS getting some good diving in return for your investment, please book your next diving adventure in Coiba with us:
WhatsApp / Tel +507-6980-7122
Herbie Sunk and the Scuba Coiba team