Fishing in Costa Rica is no joke. Both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica boasts excellent fishing and many locals to this day make their living off of fishing whether commercially, artisanally or for tourism. Costa Rica offers all types: sport fishing, freshwater fishing and inshore fishing. The sport fishing is so good that the country receives more than 5 Grand Slams each year during tournaments!
Here is our guide on fishing in Costa Rica.
Best Fishing in Costa Rica: Where to Go
Gulf of Papagayo
The Gulf of Papagayo is only 30 minutes from Liberia International Airport,, making it the most easily accessible fishing spot for visitors. You can take an inshore or deep sea fishing trip to catch mahi-mahi, tuna, sailfish and more. The Papagayo Marina is in Culebra Bay and fits up to 180 boats!
Tamarindo and Flamingo
Tamarindo and Flamingo are two excellent places for deep sea fishing. Flamingo has a brand new marina with a shopping center, condos and new slips for currently 92 boats, planned up to 180 in the future.
Drake Bay, Puerto Jimenez, Zancudo and Golfito
All three places are great fishing destinations. Zancudo is particularly good for marlin and sailfish. Zancudo Lodge and Crocodile Bay Resort puts together great in and offshore fishing packages.
Quepos, the main town near Manuel Antonio has a large marina called Marina Pez Vela and is a great place for sailfish. This marina is usually home to international fishing competitions and top anglers from all over the world visit Quepos specifically for fishing.
Herrdura is home to the Los Suenos Marina which holds up to 200 boats. Ideal for those who want to fish in style as it caters the needs of luxury travelers. Good place for marlin and sailfish. This is where you’ll depart from if you’re staying in Jaco. The Los Suenos Marriott is right at the marina.
The Caribbean coasts offers different types of fish than the Pacific. You can catch species such as Snook, Tarpon, Spanish mackerel, barracuda, king fish tripletail and mahi-mahi.
North Caribbean (Parismina)
Rio Parismina is one of the best for giant tarpoon and snook, a favorite for fly fishermen.
Samara offers decent deep sea fishing.
Mal Pais and Paquera
Both places offer good fishing, particularly local fishing since they are small fishing towns. Bahia Rica Lodge offers excellent fishing trips in the Paquera Bay and Gulf of Nicoya.
Costa Rica Fishing Calendar
Here are the best times of year for certain fish in various parts of the country.
- Marlin (Black/blue/striped): Excellent Oct-Dec. Good April – Sept. Fair Jan – Mar.
- Sailfish: Excellent Jan – Mar and Oct-Dec. Good April – Sept.
- Tuna (yellowfin): Excellent all year long.
- Mahi-mahi: Excellent Jan – March and Oct – Dec.
- Roosterfish: Excellent July – Sept. Good Jan – June. Fair Oct – Dec.
- Wahoo: Good Jan – Sept. Fair Oct – Dec.
- Snapper: Excellent July – Dec. Good April – June. Fair Jan – March.
- Tarpon: Peak season is December – May.
- Snook: March – May season, peak season is September – November.
- Fat Snook: November – January.
- Atlantic Sailfish: Year round.
- Wahoo: Year round.
- Tripletail: Year round.
Offshore Fishing in Costa Rica
Bill fish are plentiful in Costa Rica and you can catch marlin, sailfish, roosterfish and more on a deep sea fishing trip. The most popular places to go deep sea fishing in Costa Rica is Flamingo, Herradura, Quepos, Golfo Dulce/Golfito, Drake Bay and Gulf of Papagayo.
Half day sport fishing charters starts at $800 USD and full day can go over $2600 USD depending on number of people, hours and other factors. These boats are equipped with bathrooms, include all fishing gear and equipment and crew.
You can still catch plenty of fish on an inshore fishing trip. Wahoo, snappers, grouper, mahi-mahi and tuna are just a few fish that roam around closer to shore. Some of the best places to go inshore fishing in Costa Rica are Gulf of Papagayo, Caribbean, Quepos, Samara and Tamarindo.
Half day inshore fishing charters start at $400 and full days can go up to $1000. For inshore fishing, you can keep the fish you catch for the most part. We’ve caught mahi mahi, tuna and snapper before and took them all home to eat which was awesome!
Many fishing tours will also offer trolling or bottom fishing either included or extra charge.
If you’d like to try inshore fishing but the local way, you can hire a panga instead of booking through a big company. Pangas are small (15-22) foot outboard hull boats with center consoles. It’s pretty much a small boat that locals use for inshore fishing and it’s a very nice way to experience local artisan fishing.
Half and full day trips run around $200-$700, much cheaper than other charters since the boats aren’t big and don’t have bathrooms. However, the price should include fishing equipment and the fishing license.
Yeison used to go kayak fishing in Playas del Coco which you can read more in the link.
You will still see locals shore fishing during certain times of the year and places. When we used to live in Playas del Coco, we saw a lot of locals shore fishing with just a line and hook! Although we never had any luck, we have seen some local fishermen catch big snappers right from shore!
It does need to be during the right time of year when the fish are close to shore and you need to know what you’re doing. It’s not good all year round and it’s not as plentiful as it used to be. But if you have experience in this kind of fishing and want to try your hand, you can visit any fishing store to buy equipment or ask any local you see fishing and ask them how it is.
You can also try your hand at freshwater such as lake and river fishing in Costa Rica. There are a handful of rivers and a few lakes where freshwater fishing in Costa Rica is very good. The most popular places for freshwater fishing is Lake Arenal and Savegre River in San Gerardo de Dota. You can catch rainbow trout, bass, mojarra, bluegill and many other types of freshwater fish.
Additionally, many places have their own tilapia pond or trout pond. Tilapia is not a really yummy fish but it is a fun experience to catch your own and then they cook it for you.
Some hotels even offer these activities such as the Springs Resort & Spa and Peace Lodge (they have their own trout lake and river).
Fly Fishing in Costa Rica
Fly fishing in Costa Rica is quite good. It’s not as popular as ocean fishing but there is a company that specializes in fly fishing trips, Fly Fish in Costa Rica. They put together special itineraries and all inclusive Costa Rica fishing packages!
If you plan to go fishing in Gulf of Papagayo (Ocotal/Coco/Hermosa/Panama) or Tamarindo/Conchal/Flamingo, please feel free to contact us for recommendations! We also have a friend who runs inshore fishing, surfing and snorkeling trips from Coco.
I would like to know about trips from Limon on 12/06/2023. will be arriving per cruise ship. Most likely a half day trip Thank you for your time. Steve
Hi Steve, I know a lot of people go to Veragua Park when arriving at Limon port on cruises (they have ziplining, aerial tram and nature walks).
I would like to do inland fishing around Tamarido
There are a ton of fishing companies in Tamarindo and Flamingo, you can even open up Google Maps and check around to see.
Stacy Hardwicke says
We just got back from CR the other day. This is our third time there. We always book a fishing trip. This time we went out of Tamerindo. We booked with Sea Breeze. Caught a ton of fish. Last year we fished out of
Quepos with Quepos fishing Adventures. Any questions I’d be glad to help.
Matt Cilla says
Hi, I am planning to head to CR in the next week for 3 or 4 days of fishing
I’m not really comfortable getting on a small island jumper plane. Can you recommend some place that don’t require flying into
Hi Matt, there are several fishing lodges in Costa Rica and you can ask them to help you arrange ground transportation. Some are Bahia Rica, Crocodile Bay, Zancudo Lodge, Los Suenos, and popular fishing places are Playas del Coco,, Quepos, Flamingo beach, Drake Bay
Hi. I left an inquiry about a fishing/snorekling trip with Marcy in July several days ago. Haven’t heard back from you yet but looking forward to it.
Hi Ali, it seems the request didn’t go through as I can’t find anything under your email in our records. Can you please email us at services @ mytanfedt . com with your tour details, thanks.
Scott Giffin says
We will be traveling to CR in July and would like to spend a couple of days fishing offshore. Trying to decide if we should book 3nts in Los Suenos before heading to Manuel Antonio or just spend a couple extra nts in Manuel Antonio and fish out of the marina in Quepos. Any advantages to fishing from Los Suenos vs Quepos?
We haven’t fished at either but I know they are both excellent for off shore since they both have been hosts to fishing tournaments and fishing is what both marinas are known for. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with either one.
The Jone's says
We are a slightly older couple (40’s) looking to do some surf fishing (looking for rooster fish) and smaller fish, from shore. We are booked on the beach in Playa Potrero 2/24/21-3/3/21 and were wondering if there was a place nearby to rent tackle/surf rods get bait etc? Is there anyone who can be hired as a surf fishing guide perhaps? Thanks, this site has been an incredible help.
Hello, there is a store in Brasilito nearby called La Bahia that sells fishing gear.
The Jones's says
Thanks! Found it, only 5.6km away! Your site is great, was also very helpful for finding a place to get covid testing for when we return to US.
I’ll be traveling solo in a couple weeks , how can I go fishing on a charter with a group (so I can split the cost)?
You will need to contact the company to see what their policies are as some groups do want private tours, but some companies may offer open tours.
Hi! I am trying to plan a last minute trip 1/22/2020-1/26/2020 to Costa Rica for my husband and myself. Do you have any suggestions for places to stay and shore fish? We both love to fish and would love to try some different places. We are trying to do a budget trip and learn the area. Never been to before! Thank you for any suggestions you can give!
Hi Sarah, I am not too knowledgeable on the best places to shore fish but we have seen locals shore fishing in Playas del Coco certain times of the year. But we have never seen tourists do it since they do it like an artisanal local fishing way (not sure how to describe it) but basically just using a line and hook, no nets or poles.
Group of 4 guys staying in JACO looking to go TUNA fishing need your recommendation and what marina to go out of January 20-27 ,2020…
Check with Los Sueños Marina!
We will be in Costa Rica July 31-Aug 4 and would like at least one day of fishing. My husband would love to catch any kind of sport fish, especially a billfish! Do you have a recommendation on where to stay? Hotel/resort and best town for that time of year?
Herradura, Bahia Rice lodge in Paquera, Crocodile Bay resort in Puerto Jimenez and Quepos are excellent places for fishing.
We are going from Flamingo to Samara tomorrow and have spend several days trying to find a fishing net for children in this area which by now seems impossible – so if you by any change have an idea where to find one I would be trilled (and so will our youngest kid turning 3 in 2 days) – hope you can help these two desperate parents making his wish come true!
Hi Anne, honestly I am not sure. There has to be a fishing store in Flamingo or Samara where they sell all sorts of fishing supplies and have nets (not really sure about nets for children).