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Miles of coral reefs awash in rainbows of underwater wildlife lie within the northern reaches of Portobelo National Park, and dive centers on the road to Portobelo provide easy access to those marine wonders. Though they've suffered damage from fishermen, erosion, and climate change, the reefs in the Portobelo area consist of nearly 50 coral species and are inhabited by more than 250 fish species. The underwater fauna ranges from moray eels to colorful butterfly fish, damselfish, trumpet fish, and other reef dwellers. Popular spots include Buffet Reef, a plane wreck, a shipwreck, and the distant Escribano Bank, east of Isla Grande. Visibility varies according to the sea conditions, but tends to be low from December to April, when high seas can hamper dives. The best conditions are between July and December. PADI certification courses are also available.
Aventuras Panama. The Panama City-based outfitter Aventuras Panama runs a day tour to Portobelo that combines kayaking and snorkeling. Portobelo. 507/260–0044. www.aventuraspanama.com.
Scuba Panama. The country's oldest dive operator, Scuba Panama has a dive center at the Sunset Cabins hotel, where it operates day and overnight dive tours to reefs near Portobelo. 6 km (3 mi) before Portobelo on the left, Portobelo. 507/448–2147 or 507/261–3841. www.scubapanama.com.