Costa Rica Fishing Vacation

Packages

Fishing Info

Seasons

Destinations

Available Species

FAQ’s

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. Fishing in Costa Rica is an angler’s dream with some of the world’s best offshore and inshore fishing along two coasts, 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 Offshore Fishing
Los Suenos Fishing
Quepos Fishing
Costa Rica Tarpon Fishing
Costa Rica Inshore Fishing
Costa Rica Fly Fishing
Freshwater Fishing
Costa Rica Fishing & Golf
Guanacaste Fishing

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 based on your fishing goals, non-fishing interests, preferred accommodations, and of course your budget. From big game offshore fishing to light tackle inshore & freshwater fishing, even fly fishing, fishing in Costa Rica is an experience any angler will enjoy.

Offshore Sport 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.

Costa Rica Fishing Calendar

Where is the Best Fishing in Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is known to have some of the best sport fishing in the entire world, and it’s a reputation that is well deserved. The tiny Central American country is home to world class tarpon & snook fishing on it’s Caribbean Coast, numerous freshwater species in exotic locales, and of course world class inshore & offshore fishing on the Pacific Coast. The diversity of species available here, fishing venues that include two oceans along with freshwater lakes and rivers, and a 12-month fishing season make Costa Rica a fishing destination unlike any other place in the world. Below is a list of Costa Rica’s Best Fishing Destinations so you know where to go, and when, on your next fishing vacation to Costa Rica.

Fishing on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

When people in the fishing world refer to Costa Rica as the “billfish capital of the world”, they are referring to the phenomenal marlin and sailfish action found on our Pacific Coast.  World famous hot spots like the Los Sueños Resort & Marina and the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos are home to some of the best captains and fishing boats in Central America, not to mention major international billfish tournaments.  It doesn’t end there however as prolific sport fishing can be enjoyed from the northern Pacific region of Guanacaste in places like Tamarindo, Flamingo, and the Gulf of Papagayo all the way to the exotic Osa Peninsula in the south Pacific where you’ll find Golfito and Drake Bay.  While offshore fishing for triple-digit sized billfish may dominate magazine covers and advertisements, it goes without saying that the mighty roosterfish is one of the most targeted and asked about species by our anglers. So the majority of the time when people ask, ‘Where is the best fishing in Costa Rica?‘, the answer is the Pacific Coast due to predictable weather patterns and sea conditions, modern marinas, fantastic beach towns with tons hotels & private rentalsto choose from, and of course amazing inshore and offshore fishing.

Weather on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast

The weather on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is about as predictable as weather can get. From December through April it’s the dry season, or summer, where you will all but be guaranteed hot and sunny weather.  During these months the Guanacaste region in the north can (and usually does) get very strong winds so the fishing is better in the central and southern regions of the country like Los Suenos and Manuel Antonio.  During the months of May-November we experience our green season where afternoon rain showers are common.  The wettest month of the year is October, but even then the fishing still productive and most days are hot and sunny until 2-3 PM.

Boat Selection

Along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, you’ll find a seemingly infinite number of boats to fit any size and any budget. You’ll also find several state-of-the-art, first-class international marinas like the Los Sueños Marina, the Marina Pez Vela in Quepos, Papagayo Marina, and the new marinas in Golfito and Playa Flamingo.  Most inshore boats are 26′-28′ pangas or center consoles while the most common offshore boat is a 28′-32′ sport fisher with a cabin and tower. For the more hardcore or discerning angler, our tournament-class boats in the 38′-45′ range are as good as they get in Central America.  For large groups of 6-10 anglers, we also have 50′-60′ yachts with multiple state rooms and air-conditioned salons with kitchens and TVs. With multiple marinas and fishing towns dotted along the coast you’ll find any make of boat you’ve ever heard of – Bertram, Hatteras, Topaz, Contender, Mako, Cabo, Viking, and of course Costa Rica’s own Maverick Yachts.

Hotel Selection

Without any question, the best beach hotels, all-inclusive resorts, and fishing lodges are located on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast. From boutique adults-only hotels to large family-friendly all-inclusive resorts, a private bungalow or a private villa, an eco-lodge or a fishing-lodge, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect accommodation for your fishing trip to Costa Rica.

Beaches & Towns

Costa Rica’s most popular and well-known beach towns are also located along the Pacific Coast. The party & surf town of Jaco is just 75 minutes outside of San Jose while the international hot spot of Manuel Antonio is just 2.5 hrs away. If you are in Guanacaste you’ll find Tamarindo, Flamingo, Playa Hermosa, and Carillo as major hubs for entertainment and accommodations. These beaches are also the most picturesque and swimmable in Costa Rica, so it’s certainly no coincidence that the biggest and best hotels were developed here. All of these beach towns offer a great selection of local restaurants, bars, grocery stores, banks, ATMS and hospitals or clinics.

Other Tours

At just about any major beach town along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast you’ll have a menagerie of eco and adventure tours to choose from. Eco tours can include guided tours of national parks, kayaking or boating through complex mangrove systems, whale watching, turtle watching, or sunset catamaran cruise. If it wasn’t for sport fishing in Costa Rica, the adventure tours would certainly be the claim to fame as options like the canopy zip-line, white water rafting, ATVs, horseback riding, surfing, golf, snorkeling & diving, and even waterfall rappelling can be found in most destinations. Whether you need a day off from fishing or are vacationing with family, you’ll find plenty to do here on your non-fishing days.

Fishing on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

When most people envision the Caribbean Coast of a Central American country, they picture something from a Corona commercial with sugar-white sand beaches, clear turquoise water, and calm waves lapping at the shoreline. While this can be true in some beaches along Costa Rica’s Southern Caribbean Coast, it’s not what you should expect on your fishing trip. When trying to decide where to fish in Costa Rica: Pacific vs Caribbean, you need to consider what you’ll want to do on any non-fishing days or if members of your group don’t fish because the Northern Caribbean is not a ‘beach’ destination. Unlike other destinations like Belize or the Yucatan Peninsula that are protected by the Mesoamerican Reef, Costa Rica’s Northern Caribbean Coast is open water so it can be very rough and generally has a lot of currents. The beaches in this part of the country tend to be black sand and are part of the massive conservation area, so there isn’t a lot of infrastructure out here.

That said, if you are coming to fish Costa Rica’s Atlantic Coast offers some of the best snook and tarpon fishing in the entire world – as is evidence by the various IGFA world records set here. While you are cruising the coastline or fishing the river mouths you can also come across jacks, snapper, grouper, mackerel, barracuda and even the occasional shark. If you want a day of light tackle adventure you can head into the freshwater lagoons and rivers and fish for a variety of local species like rainbow bass (guapote), machaca, mojarra (blue gill), and the prehistoric tropical gar. Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast is as beautiful as it gets, but it’s not a spot for beach-bums as the combination of strong currents, waves, sharks, and crocodiles make this an exotic fishing destination rather than a Caribbean beach vacay.

Weather on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

As with anywhere in the Caribbean, the weather on Costa Rica’s Atlantic Coast is about as unpredictable as it gets. Despite being just 180 miles wide at its widest point, the weather on the Caribbean Coast in Costa Rica is vastly different from the Pacific Coast. The drier summer months on the Caribbean are January through mid-May when showers are least common and seas conditions are optimal for fishing. They also experience a two-month dry season in September and October, which are the wettest months of the year on the Pacific Coast. The months of mid-May to August and then November through early January tend to be very stormy and rainy, so fishing isn’t advised for these periods.

Boat Selection

Along Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, you won’t find marinas or a bay full of moorings, this is the land of pangas and center consoles. The panga, or super panga, rose to fame as a top inshore fishing boat in the Caribbean for it’s ability to punch through waves, run into shallow water, and flat out for its affordability. If you aren’t fishing in a panga you’ll be fishing in something close to it as all of the top tarpon guides and tarpon lodges here use 26′ deep-V center consoles to be able to get through the river mouth safely and offer 360-degree fishability. If you spend a day fishing the freshwater canals or rivers you can also use a small skiff or Jon-boat that can take you deep into the jungle.

Hotel Selection

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast does not offer anywhere near the amount of beach towns or hotel selections as the Pacific Coast. By far the least developed of the two coasts, your options here are eco-lodges, tarpon fishing lodges, and a handful of luxury hotels. Many people incorrectly assume that Costa Rica features a white sand and turquoise blue Caribbean scene like Belize or Mexico, but here it’s not like that so all the major developments and hotels will be found on the Pacific.

Beaches & Towns

The southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica does feature some gorgeous, postcard-esque beaches like Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Cocles. Often more of a draw for backpackers or beachgoers, if you love the Caribbean vibe of rastas, Bob Marley music playing at every bar, and eating ‘rice and beans’ you’ll love it here. The northern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica takes on a much different, eco-friendly vibe than it’s more libation-friendly southern region. Much of this can be attributed to the 400,000 acre Barra de Colorado Wildlife Refuge. Without doubt the largest tourist town here, consisting of about 900 locals, is the world-famous sea turtle nesting site of Tortuguero. The major port town on this coast, Limon, is where the cruise ships and container ships dock but due to safety issues and lack of quality beaches we highly recommend you don’t spend any time here.

Other Tours

Along the Caribbean Coast you won’t find the laundry list of tours available to you that you would on the Pacific, but if you love nature this may be paradise. Eco tours available are guided tours of national parks, kayaking, snorkeling, bird watching, animal sanctuaries, and of course turtle viewing. Depending on the month you visit you can see four different species of turtles either laying their eggs or hatching here – but you MUST go with a guide as this is a national park and very protected.

The Top Six Places to Fish in Costa Rica

Los Sueños Resort & Marina

First on our list of Costa Rica’s Best Fishing Destinations has to be the famous Los Sueños Resort & Marina. Los Sueños opened in 2001 and is the crown jewel when it comes to sport fishing in Costa Rica. Nestled in Herradura Bay along Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast, it is located just over one hour from the SJO International Airport. This 1,100 acre property features an 18-hole golf course, a 600-acre nature reserve, a beautiful beach club, a marina village with boutique shops, a spa, and grocery & liquor stores, six restaurants, and finally over 500 private residences and luxury condos. These privately owned 1, 2, and 3 bedroom condos and the luxury vacation villas make Los Sueños the ideal location for your next fishing vacation to Costa Rica.

The calling card of the Los Sueños Resort is their 201-slip marina which is home to some of the finest fishing boats and captains in Central America.  The fleet ranges from 26′ center consoles to 60′ luxury yachts, many of which are tournament winning boats and feature tenured and tested crews.  The sport fishing out of Los Sueños is some of the best in the world as offshore charters commonly reach double digit sailfish releases in addition to endless catches of dorado and yellow-fin tuna.  Blue, black, and striped marlin are caught all year round with Nov-Feb and May-July being the top months.  For the hardcore anglers targeting marlin, overnight trips to the FADS, or offshore sea mounts, are becoming more and more popular in recent years due to fishing reports of boats returning with 20-30 marlin bites just a couple days of fishing.  If offshore fishing doesn’t interest you or if you simply want to switch it up, a few highly skilled captains at Los Suenos specialize in inshore fishing for mackerel, snapper, jacks, sea bass, and roosterfish or you can also go bottom fishing for grouper, snapper, and amberjack at the various offshore reefs.
If you need more convincing of how amazing the fishing at Los Suenos is then just use their Los Suenos Triple Crown Tournament as a guide. This annual three leg, three day tournament is hosted every January, February and March and features 40-45 of the best boats in the region. In the 2014 edition of the tournament the January leg saw an astonishing 2,171 billfish released in three days while the February leg followed with another 1,060 and March closed with 1,847 billfish released.

Quepos / Manuel Antonio

An hour south of the Los Sueños Resort you’ll find one of the most prolific fishing destinations in Costa Rica, Quepos. Traditionally known as the ‘fishing capital of Costa Rica’, Quepos was the place to go in the 80’s and 90’s before the modern Los Sueños Resort & Marina was opened in 2001. Not to be left behind, in 2012 Quepos finally opened it’s brand new Marina Pez Vela and instantly proved stiff competition to the Los Sueños Marina. The gorgeous new marina offers 195 wet slips, restaurants, bars, boutique shops and a more family-friendly approach with movies shown outdoor at night in their amphitheater. Also home to the famous Manuel Antonio National Park, this area is the quintessential destination for first time visitors to Costa Rica as it offers beaches, rain forest, wildlife, luxury hotels, and of course great sport fishing.

Intrepid anglers have been sport fishing in Quepos since tourism first started to gain traction in Costa Rica decades ago. In fact, it was these calm waters and prolific billfish numbers helped put Costa Rica on the map in the 70’s and 80’s. During the peak season it is a common occurrence to raise 10-20 (or more!) sailfish a day and there are always marlin around. The billfishing is so good that Quepos hosted an annual billfish fly fishing tournament for 15 years in the early 2000’s. The popular “Veintisies” pinnacle is a known hot spot for wahoo and big snapper, as well as the occasional black marlin. Thanks to numerous islands and three big river mouths, Quepos also offers some of the country’s best inshore fishing for a variety of species including snook, seabass, jacks, and roosterfish. Last but not least, the jungle rivers near Manuel Antonio provide the perfect setting for river float trips for a variety of freshwater species. The fly fishing trips are as scenic as they are fun, and if you aren’t a fly angler you can always use super light tackle and fish the same way.
As with Los Suenos, one needs to look no further than the international fishing tournaments held here to realize that the sport fishing really is first class.  The Marina Pez Vela hosts several billfish tournaments throughout the year like the Quepos Cup and the new Pelagic Rock Star Tournament. Most importantly, Quepos has been host to the Offshore World Championship since 2012.  Arguably the largest sport fishing tournament of the year in the entire world, this “invite-only” tournament draws 50-60 teams from around the world to compete for marlin, sailfish, yellow-fin tuna, and dorado every April.

Guanacaste (Tamarindo, Flamingo, Gulf of Papagayo)

Guanacaste is one of seven Costa Rican provinces and comprises the entire northwest corner of the country. This is the “gold coast” of Costa Rica and is home to beautiful beaches, the biggest resorts, and classic fishing towns like Tamarindo, Flamingo, and the Gulf of Papagayo. With talk of all the state of the art marinas in Costa Rica, fishing in Tamarindo is a refreshing take on the way it used to be. There is no marina in Tamarindo so the sport fishing boats are all moored behind the island in the south side of the bay. To get to your boat you simply walk from your hotel along the beach, board a panga in the surf, and ferry out to your waiting private charter. In other beaches like Flamingo, Ocotal, and Playas del Coco it works the same way. On the exclusive Peninsula Papagayo however you’ll find the new Marina Papagayo, which opened in 2009. This is home to 180 slips with an end goal of having over 300, one day making it Costa Rica’s biggest and most advanced marina.
Guanacaste is one of Costa Rica’s oldest fishing destinations thanks in part to favorable geography and weather. This section of the country is the western most point in Costa Rica so the run time to the continental shelf is often less than 30 minutes. Guanacatse is also the hottest and driest region of Costa Rica so it receives very little rainfall all year. Due to strong winds during the dry season months, it actually experiences it’s best fishing during the green season months of May-November. When other parts of the country start receiving daily afternoon showers and the fishing slows down, the action heats up in Guanacaste as the fish tend to more north into better water conditions. Thanks to these clear waters and several large islands just offshore, like the Catalina Islands and Isla Murciealago, Guanacaste offers great inshore fishing and it is home to terrific diving as well.

Northeast Caribbean Coast (Rio Colorado, Rio Parismina, Tortuguero)

Switching coasts and fisheries, one has to mention the Caribbean Coast when they talk about sport fishing in Costa Rica. The tarpon fishing is some of the best in the world as these are all big, mature fish we find here. Here 80-100 lb tarpon are the norm and every year we jump (and sometimes land) 150-200 lb behemoths. Most of the tarpon fishing is done in river mouths and within a mile or two of the shore as giant rivers like the Rio Colorado, Rio Parismina, and Rio Tortuguero create the perfect environment for tarpon to chase their prey in the saltwater of the ocean, the brackish water of the river mouths, or the freshwater in the canals and lagoons. We mainly fish for tarpon with bucktail jigs and sardines in the ocean, but in the river mouths rapalas elicit plenty of bites but the treble hooks don’t always survive.

The snook fishing along this stretch of coastline is literally world class as there are four different IGFA world records set in these waters. Often times the best way to catch snook is to walk on the beach and wade into the river mouths where you will cast stick baits or bucktail jigs into the surf. It’s not easy, but 40-50 lb trophies make it worth it.

Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast has an entirely different weather pattern than the Pacific Coast so knowing when to come fish is important. The tarpon in Costa Rica are not highly migratory like they are throughout much of the rest of the Caribbean, they are always here, but some months the weather can be miserable and the river mouths can simply be too dangerous to cross so you’ll be stick fishing the freshwater canals all day. There are two tarpon seasons on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, mid-Jan to mid-May and then again in September & October.

This is one of Costa Rica’s most isolated and exotic locales so there are no roads here, the only way in is by boat or plane. This corner of the country almost entirely consists of the Tortuguero Conservation Area, which protects over 200,000 acres of lush rainforest and waterways. For this reason it’s been nicknamed the “Amazon of Costa Rica” because you won’t find any cities or resorts here, just eco-lodges and all inclusive fishing lodges. Fishing with local English speaking guides and no other boats in site make tarpon & snook fishing in Costa Rica an experience anglers come back for year after year.

Lake Arenal

For the fishing savants out there, fear not, Costa Rica isn’t all about big game fishing for billfish, tuna, and tarpon. The mountains and lush rain forest provide several freshwater fishing opportunities on our various lakes and rivers. The biggest of them all is the 33-acre Lake Arenal, which provides a gorgeous setting for exciting fresh water fishing for species like machaca, tilapia, and the prized rainbow bass. This man-made lake, formed in 1979 to produce cheap hydroelectric power for the region, contains endless pockets, fingers, and river mouths that provide habitat for these fresh water species.

Machaca have earned the nickname “mini tarpon” for their acrobatic jumps while rainbow bass are one of the hardest fighting freshwater species you can find. Whether you are casting plugs and crank baits, fly fishing, or trolling deeper water for the big rainbow bass it’s hard to beat the bite and the beautiful scenery. Few things will compare to an early morning on a glass-flat lake in front of the imposing Arenal Volcano with the sound of howler monkeys waking up.

Besides bass fishing on the lake, Costa Rica also offers float trips down some of her pristine jungle rivers. This is available in various parts of the country, so depending on where your vacation takes you or what time of year you visit will determine which river is best for you. The float trips are a unique and memorable way to spend the day since it’s just you and your guide in the raft as you float through the Costa Rican rainforest – often times with no one else in site. This essentially combines two tours into one as you’ll fish and get to enjoy some incredible wildlife viewing of birds, monkeys, sloths, and yes even crocodiles (don’t worry, they are friendly here!). Whether fly fishing or light tackle spin fishing, you’ll make countless casts towards the river banks as you slowly float down the Class I-II rapids trying to elicit a strike from the ever-aggressive machaca. You can also catch small snook, snapper, rainbow bass, and a few other exotic freshwater species on the river trips.

Osa Peninsula

Last but not least on our list of Costa Rica’s Best Fishing Destinations is the final frontier, the Osa Peninsula. Comprised almost entirely by the 164 sq mile Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica’s most prized national park, National Geographic has referred to the Osa Peninsula as ‘the most biologically intense place on Earth.‘ The wildlife here is almost unparalleled anywhere else on the planet as you’ll find 5% of the entire world’s biodiversity right here including hundreds of species of birds, some of the most venomous snakes in the world, crocodiles, and mammals big and small including tapir, jaguars, pumas, ocelots, four species of monkeys and sloths. The best way to get to the Osa Peninsula is to take a 50-minute domestic flight from San Jose or to take an hour long boat ride from the town of Sierpe if you find yourself already in southern Costa Rica.
There are two main fishing destinations in the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay on the west side (Pacific Ocean) and Puerto Jimenez on the east side (Gulfo Dulce) side. Depending on which one you visit you’ll fish different waters, but the experience will be similar as the fishing is phenomenal but there are very few people around. In Drake Bay you’ll find eco-luxury lodges that typically have less than 15 rooms so the experience is very authentic and personalized. In the Gulfo Dulce you’ll find some of Costa Rica’s more popular all inclusive fishing lodges like Crocodile Bay and Zancudo Lodge. The weather in the Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica varies from that of Guanacaste or even Los Suenos/Quepos, so picking the right month to fish is very important. This area tends to receive the most rainfall of anywhere else on the Pacific, so don’t visit in the wrong month or you could be in for a very soggy experience.
The combination of little human influence, abundant marine life, and fewer sport fishing boats than any other spot on this list of Costa Rica’s Best Fishing Destinations make fishing in the Osa Peninsula an exciting venture. Over 40 IGFA records have been set within 80 nautical miles and it could probably be even more if there were more boats fishing these waters. Marlin and sailfish are found offshore as well as great numbers of yellow-fin tuna. The numerous reefs and pinnacles make for some of the best dive sites in the country, as well as what is arguably the best fishing for giant cubera snapper. If you want nightlife and luxury resorts you can look elsewhere, but if you are looking for incredible nature and plenty of fish that can bend your rod then try the Osa Peninsula out on your next fishing trip to Costa Rica.

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!

Offshore Fishing

Black Marlin
Blue Marlin
Striped Marlin
Sailfish
Yellowfin Tuna
Dorado
Wahoo

Inshore & Bottom Fishing

Roosterfish
Cubera Snapper
Jack Crevalle
Horse-eye Jack
Bluefin Trevally
Rock Snapper
Red Snapper
Mullet Snapper
Lane Snapper
Squirrelfish
African Pompano
Mackerel
Barracuda
Corvina
Pacific Snook
Broomtail Grouper
Black Grouper
Amberjack
Almaco Jack
Tarpon
Snook
Fat Snook

Freshwater Fishing

Rainbow Bass
Machaca
Mojarra
Tropical Gar
Mangrove Snapper

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
  • ATVs
  • Horseback Riding (beach or rainforest)
  • Surfing
  • Golf
  • Guided tours of national parks
  • Waterfalls
  • Thermal hot springs
  • Sunset catamaran cruise
  • Snorkeling
  • SCUBA Diving
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skis
  • Parasailing
  • Coffee plantation tour

How Much Does it Cost to Fish in Costa Rica?

Generally speaking, a full day of offshore fishing will cost $1,000-$1,500 on a quality 30′-34′ boat while larger 36′-42′ boats with air conditioned cabins can cost up to $1,800-$2,500. Our largest 50′-60′ luxury yachts can cost over $3,000 for a full day. Inshore fishing is generally more affordable as it’s done on smaller boats that burn less gas. A full day of inshore fishing can cost between $600-$800 while a half day can be found for $400-$600.

The final total cost of a Costa Rica fishing vacation, with all transfer/hotels/tour included, depends on numerous factors, such as:

  • How many nights you stay
  • Which hotel/resort/lodge you stay at
  • The room category you choose at the property
  • The number of people per room
  • The number of people fishing on the boat
  • How many days you fish
  • The size of the boat you fish on
  • The time of year you visit

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!

What Our Guests Love
About Fishing in Costa Rica

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One of the most common themes we hear in our client reviews are how friendly and inviting the locals are. Costa Ricans are very proud of their country, and they are eager to share it with international visitors.

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Honing their craft for decades, Costa Rica is home to some of the best fishing captains & crews in Central America. Most of our destinations offer a good mix of American and local Costa Rican captains, so we’ll hand-pick the right fit for your group and fishing style.

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Costa Rica wouldn’t be such a popular sport fishing destination if it didn’t produce results, which it has for the past 40+ years. Even if the bite is off for your target species, there is always something to catch here so our guests rarely leave empty handed.

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Our guests love that a fishing vacation to Costa Rica doesn’t need to be 100% fishing. There is so much to experience and see here, the majority of our guests take time off from fishing to enjoy the natural highlights like the various national parks, the Arenal Volcano & hot springs, wildlife viewing, world class 18-hole golf courses, and of course just some down time at the beach and hotel pools.

What We Love
About Fishing in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica truly offers something for everyone. Hardcore anglers can fish every single day at world class fishing lodges like Zancudo Lodge & the Los Suenos Resort, but it’s a great spot for families, honeymoons, and mixed group trips too. With beaches, rainforest, wildlife, adventure tours, golf courses, spas, and charming small beach towns, there is something to do no matter what your interests are.

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The diversity of the fishery in Costa Rica. Home to some of the world’s best offshore fishing, Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast also offers incredible inshore fishing for popular trophies like roosterfish, snapper, and world record sized snook. The Caribbean Coast features amazing fishing for tarpon and snook We even offer freshwater fishing on our lakes and rivers. Best of all, it’s actually possible to fit ALL of that in during the same trip!

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Options galore. Tourists have been visiting Costa Rica since the 1980’s, so we have a range of accommodations to fit almost any group size and budget. From boutique hotels to all-inclusive resorts, from affordable Airbnb’s to exclusive private villas, we can choose from hundreds of options to find the right fit for you.

More About Vacationing to Costa Rica

Despite being only the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica is one of the most diverse and naturally beautiful countries in the world. The territory spans 19,730 sq. miles (51,100 sq. kms) and has miles of both Caribbean and Pacific coastline. Costa Rica boats 12 different climate zones ranging from the tropical coastline to the highest point of Mt Chirripo at over 12,533 ft. Volcanoes, rain forests, cloud forests, rivers, lakes, and two oceans make Costa Rica a virtual paradise for anglers and nature lovers alike. With a stable democracy, strong economy, and high education standards Costa Rica is truly the gem of Central America.

Being located between the major Mayan cities to the north and the Incas to the south Costa Rica never had a large indigenous population. When Columbus arrived in 1502 he promptly labeled the country Costa Rica, which in Spanish means “rich coast”, and the name stuck. However due to a lack of interest by the Spanish (see: no indigenous population to enslave and no gold) Costa Rica was ignored for another 60 years until the first permanent Spanish settlement arrived in 1563.

Costa Rica remained a colony until 1821 when, along with seven other countries, it declared its independence from Spain. It became a republic in 1848 and since then has been a beacon of democracy and stability in Central America. Just two brief periods of violence dot Costa Rica’s past, a military dictatorship from 1917-1919 and their famed 44-day civil war in 1949. The victorious rebels, led by Jose Figueres Ferrer, abolished the army completely in 1949 and wrote new democratic constitution which has led to over a half a century of prosperity and stability.

Costa Rica’s rapidly growing population today stands at about 4.4 million people. Of that, the vast majority (over 83%) are classified as white or mestizo (European & indigenous descent). The remaining minorities include mulattos (6%), Afro-Caribbean (1%) and local indigenous groups (3%). Due to the stability and strong economy Costa Rica is also home to many immigrants from surrounding countries like Nicaragua, Panama, and Columbia.
Spanish is the native language of Costa Rica although indigenous tribes till speak their native languages and on the Caribbean Coast an English-French patois is spoken by locals. Costa Rica is officially a Roman Catholic country according to the 1949 constitution, and remains a predominantly Roman Catholic country today with over 70% of the population identifying themselves as such.

Costa Rica is an isthmus, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the south, and the Pacific Ocean & Caribbean Sea to either side. The rough geographic coordinates are between 9 degrees north and 84 degrees west. From sea level to over 12,000 feet Costa Rica is as diverse as it is beautiful. It features dry rain forests, tropical rain forests, cloud forests, volcanoes, and over 800 miles of coastline between the Caribbean and Pacific.

With that in mind, the Caribbean Coast follows a totally different weather pattern than the Pacific Coast. They actually have two dry seasons, one from Feb-May and another from Sept-Oct, when it rains the most in other parts of the country. Costa Rica is also too far south for hurricanes, with the last recorded hurricane touching ground in the 1960s. We do get Pacific storms and affected by Caribbean weather patterns, but in general there is never a bad time to vacation to Costa Rica!

  • 19,730 sq. miles (51,100 sq. kms) territory
  • About the size of West Virginia
  • Population of 4.6 million and growing fast
    • Mestizo – 83.6%
    • Mulato – 6.7%
    • Indigenous – 2.4%
    • Black or African Descent – 1.1%
    • Other – 1.1%,
  • Government – Democratic Republic
  • Capital City – San Jose
  • Biggest industry – Tourism
  • Official language – Spanish
  • Official currency – Costa Rican colones
  • Official Religion –Roman Catholics (over 80%)
  • Literacy rate – Over 94% (one of the highest in Latin America)
  • New Economics Foundation – Rated ‘Happiest Country in the World’ – 2009
  • Over 25% of country’s land mass is protected national park and nature reserves
  • Strict catch & release laws on all billfish
  • In 2009 banned the exportation of sailfish meat

Why Fish With CAF?

We have been fishing, living, and traveling around Central America since 2003. Plan your trip with local experts to make sure you are in the right place, at the right time, and on the right boat. We’ll help you fish for what you want, the way you want.

Free vacation planning + the best direct rates. No booking fees!

Personalized service from pre-arrival to 24/7 in-country support.

Hand-picked accommodations, fishing captains, expert guides for the best vacation experience.

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Nearly 40% of our anglers are repeat & referral guests. CAF puts you on the fish!

We are proud to have a global reach and have hosted anglers from 14 different countries here in Central America!

About the Author

I first visited Costa Rica during a semester abroad in 2003 and instantly fell in love with the language, culture, and natural beauty. I caught my first roosterfish on that trip, and ever since then I knew that I wanted to live here. After graduating in 2004, I worked for a year in the corporate world, but I was unhappy and unstimulated, so I returned to live in Costa Rica full time in 2005. Today I can proudly say that I’ve been in Costa Rica for half of my life, I met my wife here, and my two boys were born here so they are “Ticos”.

I’ve been working in the sport fishing industry in Central America for twenty years, I’ve had articles published in fishing magazines, hosted fishing TV shows, fished in several tournaments, and I’m a four-time IGFA trophy club member. I am however most proud to say that 40% of our anglers are repeat and referral guests. I’ve personally visited every destination, hotel, and fishing lodge that we partner with so that your next vacation with us is one of the best you’ve ever had.

Chris Atkins - Angler & Owner of Central America Fishing

All fishing vacations 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
Inquire Now
Plan With Local Experts

Please fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch within 24 hours. If you wish to speak to us sooner please call us anytime at 1-855-414-FISH. Your 100% customized vacation starts here!

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