Costa Rica Fishing Vacations
We’ve made planning your dream Costa Rica fishing vacation even easier with a selection of packages sorted by interest, species, and our top destinations. Costa Rica is an angler’s dream with some of the world’s best offshore and inshore fishing, multiple fishing venues from saltwater to freshwater, and both trophy and exotic species to tangle with. We know there is no single itinerary that is perfect for everyone, that’s why we customize every fishing vacation that we create. Below you’ll find our top Costa Rica fishing packages sorted by type of fishing and/or location. Once you inquire with us we’ll work with you personally to customize your dream fishing vacation. Trust our decades of local expertise and see why nearly 40% of our anglers are repeat & referral guests!
Costa Rica Sport Fishing
Costa Rica Inshore Fishing
Costa Rica Tarpon Fishing
Los Suenos Fishing
Costa Rica Fly Fishing
Costa Rica Fishing & Golf
Costa Rica Fishing Info
Costa Rica offers so many great destinations and different fishing venues, you can vacation here several times and fish someplace new every year. A large part of Costa Rica’s now famous biodiversity and natural beauty are it’s lush coastlines and beautiful beaches on two oceans, the 33 sq mile Lake Arenal, and pristine jungle rivers – and we fish them all! It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned angler or a novice, we will gladly custom design the perfect Costa Rica fishing package for you. From big game offshore fishing to fly fishing to light tackle inshore & freshwater fishing, Costa Rica has something for all anglers to get excited about.
Offshore Fishing in Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s incredible sport fishing starts with the offshore fishing on the Pacific, which is what put fishing in Costa Rica on the map decades ago. Costa Rica is one of the few places on Earth where you can land double digit sailfish and have opportunities for black, blue and striped marlin in the same day. Blessed to be at the convergence of two major ocean currents and protected by vast mountain ranges, Costa Rica offers calm, clear waters and incredible billfish action 12 months a year which has earned it the nickname “the Billfish Capital of the World“.
Most days, the offshore fishing grounds are 22-28 miles away from your home port which means it’s usually only an hour run time until you have lines in the water. The most popular method for offshore fishing in Costa Rica is trolling dead bait such as ballyhoo. Most fishing boats will set up a spread with two ballyhoo and one plastic teaser on each side of the boat, but the higher end boats will also utilize dredges to attract more attention. This is the tried and true method for raising obscene amounts fo sailfish, but while trolling you’ll also get plenty of bites from dorado and of course at any moment can raise the main prize – marlin. Costa Rica mandates the use of circle hooks when billfishing and all sailfish and marlin are strictly catch and release. Thanks to new commercial fishing laws, Costa Rica also boasts a healthy population of yellow-fin tuna. Tuna are most often spotted swimming with large pods of spinner dolphins, so when this happens the ballyhoo come in and the tuna are targeted with poppers, jigging cedar plugs, and casting stick baits. With the advent of the overnight trips to the FADs, or seamounts, Costa Rica now has arguably the best marlin fishing in the world as well. These two and three night trips often produce double digit marlin bites for lucky anglers.
Inshore Fishing in Costa Rica
It’s not all big game offshore fishing that attracts anglers, the inshore fishing in Costa Rica is just as popular. On our Pacific Coast we can catch over 20 species of fish including three kinds of jacks, mackerel, grouper, several species of snapper, sea bass, and large Pacific snook in the river mouths. The main prize of course is the famous roosterfish, which we catch 12 months a year all over the country. Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is dotted with rocky islands that provide structure as well as river mouths and estuaries that attract predators at the tide changes. Often times the best action comes from slow trolling live baits such as blue runners and sardines. For anglers who love to cast and jig, there is no shortage of islands and reefs for game fish to call home.
Bottom fishing is also extremely productive for snappers, groupers, amberjacks and other edible species. While some of our larger offshore fishing boats can also take you inshore fishing, we have a selection of dedicated inshore fishing guides that fish in smaller 22′-28′ boats which are more maneuverable and can get you closer to the islands and river mouths where the strikes occur. Whether you like to fish live bait, jig, or cast poppers and stick baits there is plenty of light tackle action awaiting you.
Tarpon Fishing in Costa Rica
Over on the Caribbean Coast, the tarpon and snook fishing is also considered world class. The tarpon population in Costa Rica is not migratory and is mainly mature adults, so when tarpon fishing in Costa Rica be prepared to do battle with 80-100 lb fish (or bigger). The best tarpon fishing is done in the murky water of the river mouths along the coast, where drifting sardines in the currents or jigging bucktail jigs is most effective. The snook fishing is always exciting as these waters have produced four IGFA world records. Costa Rica is blessed to have tarpon fishing lodges and English-speaking tarpon guides that have been putting visitors on fish for over 30 years. All tarpon are catch and release, but snook can be kept for a fresh seafood dinner.
Freshwater Fishing in Costa Rica
Last but not least, if you enjoy freshwater fishing we have several different options for you here as well. The most popular is bass fishing for on Lake Arenal right in front of the iconic Arenal Volcano. The main target here is the beautiful rainbow bass, but other species include jaguar bass, machaca, and tilapia. North of Arenal we fish the exotic freshwater wetlands of the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge. This 24,000 acre reserve is home to giants like tarpon and snook as well as local exotics like tropical gar and bass. We also offer float trips down our jungle rivers where the main target is the hard hitting and high flying machaca. Great fun on light tackle or fly fishing, machaca are called ‘mini-tarpon’ for their high flying ability and silver scales.
When is the Best Fishing in Costa Rica?
Knowing when to come fish Costa Rica is as important as where you fish. In addition to seasonal patterns of the game fish, Costa Rica has two main weather seasons and multiple different microclimates. The Northern Pacific has very different weather patterns than the Central & Southern Pacific, meanwhile the Caribbean Coast follows completely different weather seasons than the Pacific Coast. Some months are better for sailfish and marlin while others produce more edible fish like dorado and tuna. A lot of people spend time searching for the perfect hotel and finding the best boat, but knowing when to plan your Costa Rica fishing vacation is the most important question of all. You can read more about these details and nuances on our Costa Rica Fishing Calendar blog.
Available Species in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has rightly earned the nickname ‘the billfish capital of the world‘ thanks to its incredible 12-month fishery for sailfish and marlin. As if having the world’s best billfishing wasn’t enough, Costa Rica offers amazing fishing options pretty much anywhere you turn. The offshore sport fishing on the Pacific also offers a fantastic – an improving – yellow-fin tuna bite, dorado, and wahoo. Inshore fishing is where you’ll find the most variety with up to twenty species of game fish, including of course the ever-popular roosterfish and cubera snapper. On the other side of the country, Costa Rica offers some of the world’s best tarpon and snook fishing as several IGFA world records have been caught here. Last but not least, our rivers and lakes provide excellent freshwater fishing for local exotic fish like rainbow bass, machaca, and tropical gar. No matter where your Costa Rica fishing vacation takes you, rest assured you won’t be far from catching some amazing species!
Inshore & Bottom Fishing
Costa Rica Fishing Lodges & Accommodations
Costa Rica has been attracting foreign tourists for decades so there is no shortage of quality accommodations for your next fishing vacation. Your choices include exclusive boutique hotels, luxury beach resorts, exotic eco-lodges, all inclusive fishing lodges, and even fully furnished private condos & villas for larger groups or families. As a luxury vacation outfitter, we only work with the nicest 3, 4, and 5-star properties that meet our expectations for quality, reliability, and service. Being local experts, we have personally visited every single property we represent so we’ll use our personal experience to hand pick the perfect fit for your group on your Costa Rica fishing vacation.
Costa Rica Day Tours & Excursions
Our Costa Rica fishing packages don’t need to be all fishing, all the time. Costa Rica is of course just as famous for its volcanoes, rain forest, beaches and incredible wildlife as it is sport fishing. Whether it’s an off day from fishing or for the non-anglers in your group, there are several great eco and adventure tours available. We can also customize your Costa Rica fishing vacation so you spend a few nights in different locations throughout the country so you can see how diverse it is. The list includes:
- Canopy zip-line tour
- White Water Rafting
- Waterfall rappelling
- Horseback Riding (beach or rainforest)
- Guided tours of national parks
- Thermal hot springs
- Sunset catamaran cruise
- SCUBA Diving
- Jet Skis
- Coffee plantation tour
Costa Rica Fishing FAQs
Do I need a fishing license to fish in Costa Rica?
YES. All anglers need a fishing license to fish in Costa Rica. These are sold by the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Aquacultura, or INCOPESCA as they are known here. Unfortunately their website has functionality and language issues so it’s not easy to use, so you can buy the license in the morning right before you fish for the first time. The cost is $15 for one week or $30 for one month and it must be paid in cash.
How many people will be on my fishing boat?
All fishing charters booked by Central America Fishing are private, so the boat is 100% yours. We do not set up any shared charters.
What is the standard tip for a fishing charter in Costa Rica?
A standard tip for a charter fishing crew in Costa Rica is 10%-20% of the cost of the charter. Most captains are paid a low salary with the idea they’ll earn more tips the more they fish, but many mates rely 100% on tips for their income. Tipping in USD or Costa Rican colones is fine. We recommend giving the entire tip to the captain and let him divide it up with the mate.
Can I bring my own fishing gear?
OF COURSE! Even though our private charters provide all the fishing tackle and bait you’ll need, you are always welcome to bring your own lures, reels, and even rods if you want to catch fish using your own tackle. Fly anglers are always encouraged to bring their own fly gear.
Which fish in Costa Rica are catch and release and which ones can I keep to eat?
By law, all billfish in Costa Rica are strictly catch and release. While not a law, we also strongly encourage releasing all roosterfish, tarpon, and cubera snapper as they are such prized inshore species. Other species like tuna, dorado (mahi), wahoo, snappers, groupers, corvina, snook can be kept and enjoyed for a fresh seafood dinner.
Can I bring fish back home with me to my own country?
If you really want to enjoy your catch our best advice is to eat it while it’s fresh here in Costa Rica. We understand many of you love the idea of a Costa Rican seafood dinner in the comforts of your own home, so the good news is there is no law against it and people do it all the time. However – we do not have the final say in this so there are some things you need to keep in mind:
1 – Unlike some other popular fishing destinations, in Costa Rica there is no service that will package and ship fish home for you. If you want to bring fish home with you you’ll have to do it yourself in your own luggage. Our best advice is to bring down a soft sided, leak-proof cooler, have your fish frozen completely solid, wrap them in newspaper, and then check your cooler as part of your luggage since it will stay cooler in the cargo hold of the plane versus in the cabin as a carry-on. If you don’t have a cooler or forget to bring one, you can purchase affordable plastic coolers here in local grocery stores.
2 – While Costa Rica does not prohibit you from bringing fish fillets home with you, your international airline might. We strongly recommend you confirm this with your airline (in writing if possible) or you may have the fish confiscated from you at the airport check-in.
3 – Even if your airline lets you fly the fish home, your local customs may have an issue with you bringing in meat products from a foreign country. In our experience most customs agents don’t seem too interested in you bringing back frozen fish fillets from your fishing vacation to Costa Rica, but it can depend on the agent and depend on the day.
What if there is bad weather on our fishing day?
First of all, it is extremely rare to have a fishing day cancelled due to bad weather. Costa Rica is too far south for hurricanes, and on top of that we custom design every single one of our Costa Rica fishing packages to factor in not only where you’ll have the best fishing but also the best weather & sea conditions for the time of year you visit us.
It does happen every once in a while however, so if the captain, local marina, or government deem the conditions are unsafe the trip will be cancelled. The first course of action is to try and reschedule you, but if that is not possible you will be refunded in full.
Please note that rain and dark clouds are not considered bad weather. We are in the tropics and rain is a common occurrence here so that is not a cause for cancelling the trip. Many great fishing days happen in the rain – as they say the fish are wet anyway!
All Costa Rica Fishing Packages booked with Central America Fishing include the following:
- Free Vacation Planning (no fees + direct rates)
- VIP Airport Meet & Greet upon arrival into SJO
- Private, air-conditioned transfers with English speaking driver.
- Luxury, private accommodations hand-picked and customized for your group. Choose between private condos & villas, luxury beach resorts, exclusive boutique hotels, and fishing lodges.
- Private fishing charters
- All eco / adventure tours you’d like to include
- All Costa Rican taxes
- Free quotes on travel insurance
- Pre-arrival assistance with dinner reservations, tee times, pre-stocking your condo or villa, hiring a private chef, and special requests.
- 24/7 support once you are here in country