re is great scuba and snorkeling here in Panama, both in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
The Caribbean has crystal clear waters, a huge diversity in colorful corals and tropical fish. Imagine scuba diving or snorkeling in an aquarium filled with colorful tropical fish. That is what it is like to scuba or snorkel in the Caribbean. You can do that easily in the Portobello area where there are a couple of dive shops that offer scuba as well as snorkeling trips. There are also plenty of dive shops and snorkeling in Bocas Del Toro (left photo). In Bocas Del Toro, some of the snorkeling is just right in front of a beach bar, so it is very convenient.
The waters right on the mainland on the Pacific side are not clear, but if you go out to the islands such as the Pearl Islands, which is 35 miles south east of Panama City, or Isla Coiba (bottom photo), that is where you will see clear waters and nice coral reefs with lots of nice and colorful tropical fish. You will also see the big fishes in the Pacific side. You will see whale sharks, big game fish, and whales.
There isn't really decent snorkeling and diving along the Pa
cific side of Panama because there are a lot of rivers and waves turning everything up, except for the Azuero Peninsula and Isla Iguana, where there are really clear waters and are also good places for diving and snorkeling. The Azuero Peninsula is dryer, so there are no river run offs that stir up the water and make them less clear.
If you are in Panama City, the closest diving and snorkeling spot are The Pearl Islands. You can go snorkeling at Isla Taboga, but it is not great and the beach is not that fabulous. It gets too crowded by the partying Panamanians. Isla Taboga is about 12 miles outside Panama City. There is a daily ferry that goes there and back.