We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Incredibly rude and unprofessional staff”
Review of Scuba Coiba

Scuba Coiba
Book In Advance
More Info
and up
Full-Day Diving for Beginners at Coiba National...
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Diving tours to Coiba National Park and dive sites close to Santa Catalina, snorkeling tours and dive courses
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed 26 April 2017

I have done 30+ dives in several countries and have never had such a terrible experience. The staff and owner are rude, condescending and incredibly unprofessional.

My husband and I signed up for a one day, two tank dive at Isla Coiba. We paid in advance and stopped by the dive shop the day before the dive to try on equipment. All good so far. We arrived the morning of the dive and there are two dive masters (1 female, 1 male). As I'm getting my gear together (ALL gear was rented from Scuba Coiba), the female dive master comes up to me and says, laughing, "You're going to be freezing in that wetsuit". I'm thinking, "Ok well then why are you renting gear to your customers that is in adequate for the dives"?? No matter, I didn't let it bother me and simply asked for a large shortie wetsuit that I could wear over the top - but that comment by the dive master left both me and my husband bewildered.
Second, the dive masters inform us that there are some people on the trip who are planning on doing a 3 tank dive, so (I quote) my husband and I are "going to have to wait on the beach of the island for an hour or two while the third dive, and surface stop, is completed". This to me was really irritating. I commented to the dive master that it would have been nice to know in advance that we were joining another group doing a 3 tank dive, so that we could plan for the longer day or reschedule the dive to another day with only 2 tank divers. The male dive master responded to me, "Most people are more than happy to wait around on the beach, so if you're going to complain, then DON'T GO". Well, after that response and treatment, who in their right mind would go on that trip?? My husband and I took them up on their offer, and said Ok we won't go then, and I would like a refund (since we prepaid). The divemaster said Ok, and my husband confirmed with him that we would be refunded. However, the owner emailed us later in the day with a rather rude email, no apologies whatsoever for his employees behavior, and informed us that we would not be receiving a refund. We had no choice but to contest the charge on our credit card and we took our money elsewhere, to another dive shop in Santa Catalina where we had an absolutely wonderful time and were treated with respect and the vibe was fun, not negative.
Overall the diving at Coiba is amazing and I would highly recommend it; however I would not recommend the services at Scuba Coiba.

2  Thank JMichelle2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a ReviewReviews (184)
Traveller rating
Traveller type
Time of year
All reviews
"white tip sharks"
in 12 reviews
"dive sites"
in 17 reviews
"ranger station"
in 12 reviews
"the owner"
in 20 reviews
in 29 reviews
"dive trip"
in 11 reviews
"dive shop"
in 18 reviews
"dive master"
in 28 reviews
"strong currents"
in 8 reviews
"sea horses"
in 9 reviews
"boat crew"
in 8 reviews
"marine life"
in 9 reviews
"great diving"
in 8 reviews
"days diving"
in 5 reviews
"answered all our questions"
in 2 reviews
"teenage children"
in 2 reviews
"big stuff"
in 3 reviews

17 - 21 of 185 reviews

Reviewed 24 March 2017

We took the 3-day trip to Coiba Island with 2 nights boarding and 3 dives per day and saw dolphins, tens of white-tipped reef sharks, stingrays, turtles, magnificent shoals of jack fish, lots of moray eels outside of their crevices ....... (can't name the rest, but there was a lot, lot more!). The nature was just magnificent and what made it more special was that there were so few divers - no more than 6 in our group, including our wonderful divemaster Elly. No other boats with divers to be seen! Under the water, there was life in every nook and cranny. Between dives we rested on lovely little uninhabited islands.

Elly had so many dive sites for us that we didn't visit any of the twice, and I'm sure she has many, many up her sleeve - if the current was too strong or the visibility too poor, no problem she just took us somewhere else.

The stay on Coiba Island was comfortable and the food great - cooked by none other that Herbie's wife.

All-in-all a magnificent, relaxing and peaceful diving experience, so much the better because this protected marine reserve can flourish in its diversity.

Thanks Herbie and the team at Scuba Coiba!

Thank John P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 March 2017

SCUBA COIBA dive center is maybe not a shop which would attract you from the first look. But you will be very surprised when to get on to the trip with them.

Dive shop has a great location, it is the only one on the beach. As much it is great, it is also bad for the customers, as they all get caught on the was from the bus, from the closer places. But Scuba Coiba is here the longest time and offers interesting diving trips to different destinations.

Herbie, the owner of the place, is at Santa Cataline since 2003, I guess, so he knows the place from inside out. The diving trips are going to Scuba Coiba national park almost every day, but the shop offers also the local diving, cheaper option, and multiday Coiba trips. The instructors here are ready to explain you the best option, as sometimes the visibility is not good, there are currents, and diving is changing every day. Coiba is usually the long day option, and sometimes you can make the same dives closer, and the same interesting.

Diving at Coiba National Park is very challenging, specially the temperature, visibility and current wise. Very hard to pretend anything, as diving is changing every day, even at the same place and same time. The best option is always to ask the instructors, and let it all on them.

Scuba Coiba offers 2 or 3 tanks per day trip, which include equipment, dive guide, sneak or lunch, water and coffee.
But dont forget! It is Panama! So sometimes there is no water in the shop when you come back. Sometimes the schedule is a bit longer. And sometimes the nature makes your diving different than you would expect. But when it is nice, it is nice. You could see big stuff, now specially the pelagic animals - many rays, sometimes mobulas, mantas and different rays, sharks on every dive, same as many huge schools of fishes, which make this diving really special.
You can also hire the underwater photographer on place, professional with experience, who makes your day really unforgettable memory. Dont forget to bring your USB!

Volunteers here take care of the equipment, so all you have to do is to check your gear, and bring just basic things to the boat. The rest is done for you.
And dont forget again, it is Panama!

Thank KristinaEgypt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 February 2017 via mobile

Dove with this outfit for a one day trip to Coiba. Dive masters were experienced and safety conscious. Boat s are in ok condition. Captain and crew experienced and capable.


1. One of my tanks had a weird chemical taste in the air . Wasn't just me either. One of the dive masters had same issue.

2. No water at their dive centre. So no rinse tank and no flushing toilet. A temporary problem likely but not what you expect when paying full price for diving. Infrastructure in Santa Catalina is lot reliable;probably not their fault.

3. Equipment is getting worn out. Mouth piece on my main reg was missing bite tabs - had to use my spare. I expect better when paying rental fees. That said, the equipment was in good working order and did not comprise safety.

The good:

Massive morays
Dozens of reef sharks
Turtles, schools of jacks
Porcupine fish

Just be prepared to swim and deal with current at depth and haloclines. A bit more attention to the equipment and facilities in the shop and this dive operation would get a better recommendation.

Thank scubanorm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Herbie S, General Manager at Scuba Coiba, responded to this reviewResponded 19 February 2017

Dear Norman,

thank you for taking the time and reviewing Scuba Coiba. I think your review characterizes our shop, crew and the diving pretty good. We have experienced dive guides (each single one has thousands of dives as dive professional), our captains have many years of working with us and our equipment is in reasonable good shape for a dive center rental. And the diving is without any serious competition in Panama.

That small issues happen with rental gear is unfortunate but many times unavoidable. As you have been asked to check your equipment in the shop before leaving you have not noticed a missing bite tab and found out under water yourself evidently. I am sure the mouthpiece has been exchanged after your dive, as we carry an array of spare parts for these kinds of mishaps. The day you dived we swapped some tanks for logistical reasons with another dive shop. I have checked my compressor after the dive guide told me about the air and the air of your tank (plus 2 more tanks) has not come from my compressor - however I am ready to take the blame for it, I did not check it before.

Santa Catalina is a rural fishing village in an impoverished area of Panamá and the infrastructure has been pretty much installed end of the the former century with almost no tourism and a lot less hotel beds.

I think it pretty unfair from you to blame Scuba Coiba for a community water problem and for a power cut what made you shorten your stay and cancel a second night and second day of diving, because it was too much discomfort for you.

I think, water shortages and electricity cuts are not unusual in such areas and should been taken into consideration travelling to such locations, looking for virgin diving in an unspoiled though less developed area. Somebody who cannot handle it should go to to better developed and more crowded destinations maybe.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
See more reviews
Reviewed 29 January 2017

I choice Scuba Coiba because of Tabea (who works there). She was sitting outside and was very pleasant to talk to and very enthusiastic. She directly made me feel good about diving with them.

For there it only got even better. We had a great day with Elwynn as our dive instructor. She too was so enthusiastic, experienced and she gave me a very safe feeling. Diving with them was the best. I did 3 dives and on the first dive we saw dolphins haunting!
Elwynn filmed it so we have a great memory! Both Tabea as Elwynn took many pictures.

It was a great day. They provide a very nice lunch and show you some of the best dive spots.

Thank Marjolein6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Herbie S, General Manager at Scuba Coiba, responded to this reviewResponded 19 February 2017

Dear Marjolein,

thanks for the roses. I have submitted your positive comments to Tabea and Elwynn.

We wish you many more nice dive experiences.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Scuba Coiba also viewed

Santa Catalina, Veraguas Province
Santa Catalina, Veraguas Province
Santa Catalina, Veraguas Province
Santa Catalina, Veraguas Province

Been to Scuba Coiba? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing