Jolly Roger Diving

Puerto Lindo, Panama

/localarea/things to know

Puerto Lindo is on the Caribbean so our local climate is not subject to extreme temperature changes. The typical daily temperature is 25-30C (78-86F). Depending on the time of the year the humidity can be very high at 85%+. Being located so close to the equator our seasons are much different than other places in the world.

Our seasons are:
January to April as this is the driest part of the year and referred to locally as our "summer".
Each December the trade winds pickup from the east and bring with its dry weather. The unfortunate part of being a dive center is with the winds come high seas where we can see swells upwards of 4 meters (13 feet). These high swells from January through February and into March turn the ocean into a washing machine which drops visibility to nearly zero.

April to September / October the wet season:
Once the summer winds die off, we enter into our normal wet season in which we have short rain bursts come through the area. These typically last just a few minutes. The seas during this period are typically very flat with less than 1-meter swell (3 feet) and on some days so flat that skipping a rock across the water looks easy.

September / October to December:
As we get later in the year, we enter into our monsoon season in which the rains can be extremely heavy. On occasions the local rivers overflow their banks bringing with it lots of sediment to the inland waters. Although this time of year is more unpredictable for visibility at our dive sites close to the mainland, we have the option of going to dive sites further offshore to get away from the sediment.

Basics Before You Arrive:
Panama’s currency is the Balboa, and operates on a 1:1 basis with the US dollar. US currency is commonly accepted throughout Panama, and it is suggested to bring bills no larger than $20’s. All ATM machines in Panama dispense US dollars. Since we are in a remote area it's important to remember that not everything is easily accessible nor convenient. Most importantly very few of the businesses and restaurants in the area accept credit or debit cards. The only options are to bring enough cash with you or there is an ATM located in Portobello. (Please note: Since the ATM is the only source of cash east of Sabanitas it sometimes can be empty, so plan accordingly.)

Panama does not have great water service and even during the wet season the water that gets pumped from the community is sometimes turned off. Here at Jolly Roger Diving we have large storage tanks of water which we filter & sterilize for food preparation and drinking water. Our water supply on the property is 100% safe to drink.

Generally, in Panama the tap water is ok to drink, but it occasionally has some different bacteria that you may not tolerate well. When away from the dive center you may wish to buy bottled water to drink or accept the possibility that you might have a couple of days where you'll need to be close to a toilet. In our experience, about 5-10% of people have an adverse reaction.

Panama like the rest of the North and South America utilize 120 Volt electricity. Again, as we are in a remote corner of Panama our electrical service can be unreliable, so do not be surprised if the power is occasionally off. Normally it comes back on within a few hours. Here at Jolly Roger Diving we have a large diesel generator that provides power to our whole facility.

Cellular Service:
Panama has fairly good cell service except in some of the more remote locations. Within the Puerto Lindo area there are a few spots that have very little to no reception available. If you are planning on staying in Panama for any length of time you may consider purchasing a SIM for your phone and purchasing a pre-pay plan.

Please note that carriers in the USA by default "lock" cell phones to their network so you will need to have an "unlocked" phone to utilize a local phone plan. If you have your phone unlocked prior to arriving in Panama please verify that it is "unlocked" as contacting your home carrier and getting a phone unlocked here can be quite difficult. If you are unable to have your phone unlocked then investigate international calling and data plans with your carrier prior to departure for Panama.

Using Panama cell service:
A SIM card may be purchased for your own phone if desired. Of the different carriers in Panama, Movistar and Claro work the most reliably within the Puerto Lindo area. A SIM card is typically a few dollars and a $15 plan will provide at least 1GB of data and plenty of call time for 15 days. Recharge cards for are also available at many of the local stores.

Internet service:
"Good" internet service in the area is limited to a few locations. One of the major networks here in Panama recently installed Fiber Optic service to a few of the local businesses. Here at Jolly Roger Diving we have a cellular internet connection that provides limited WIFI capabilities onsite. In Portobelo there is a few businesses with great WIFI access, we ask that you be respectful and make a purchase from them before using their WIFI network. One of our favorites is Panaderia Rico Rico (bakery) and restaurant. If you love Espresso this is the place to go!

Local Supplies
There are a couple of small local grocery stores that can provide some basic items. Prices here tend to be higher than in Panama City or Sabanitas.
Super Joel – Located at the start of the dirt road to us in Puerto Lindo. They have very limited basic food supplies.
Fruit Stand - We now have a small fresh fruit and vegetable stand right across the road from the Super Joel. The quality is quite good but they do not have a huge selection.
Juan Gallego – About 3km past Puerto Lindo this store has a much better stock of food items including vegetables and frozen meats. Sim recharge cards are available here, and this is also where we obtain propane.

Getting Around Panama:
Driving in Panama can be a bit challenging as traffic within Panama City can be extremely bad. Drivers rarely use turn signals and many vehicles do not have working lights (including brake lights). If you are not a timid driver and use more aggressive driving techniques, you will have little problems navigating within the city. We strongly urge you to download and utilize the navigation app "Waze". This is essential in finding your way to destinations as there are no street addresses within Panama.

Local taxis are a quick easy method to utilize nearly everywhere in Panama. It is very important to negotiate the price before getting in the cab. Travel to/from Tocumen Airport to any of the Hotels within Panama City should cost no more than $35. We can arrange transportation to/from Tocumen Airport or Panama City to your Puerto Lindo hotel.

Mass Transportation
Mass transportation can be quite an experience. Within Panama City there are the metro busses and the mass transit lines which are extremely reasonable in prices. Outside of the city we have what is called "Diablo Rojo's" which are school busses that have been repainted and are extremely colorful. We strongly urge you to bring ear plugs when riding on a Diablo as it is very typical to have "very" loud music playing. (loud music is the Panamanian way)

Private Transportation
There are a number of companies that can provide private transportation to anywhere you wish to go.

Our Transportation Services
We can provide you with transportation to/from Tocumen International Airport, Panama City and Puerto Lindo at reasonable rates. Once here in Puerto Lindo we provide pickup and drop-off before and after diving each day. For other transportation in the local area taxis are available and there are a few private taxis that can be hired for reasonable rates.