When the whole world is your oyster, all you need to do is pick the best spots to go spearfishing. But that’s not easy of course. Not when you have the whole globe stretching in front of your eyes and every alluring hotspot is more tempting than the next.
It’s enough to drive the passionate spearo among us crazy. Or maybe it’s the other way round. You have explored every nook and cranny of the tiny local spearfishing spot near you and you want to expand your horizon. Again you’re stuck and don’t know where to go. From the remote shores of Japan to Cape Verde, South Africa, our blue planet has more spearfishing destinations than you can imagine.
This ambitious guide takes you on a whirlwind tour of the best spearfishing destinations around the globe. Each and every one of these destinations deserves an article of its own. Something that we’ll be doing the next few weeks. But for now, let’s have a birds-eye view of what to expect in each of these fascinating destinations.
We start in Asia where Thailand is the shining jewel in the South Asian crown. But while tourists prefer the more exotic towns like Phuket and Koh Samui, spearos set their eyes on Krabi. It’s more than just a spearfishing hotspot. It’s the whole deal. The island has beautiful landscapes and at night you can camp near the beach.
The abundance of fish in Krabi waters is phenomenal. You’ll find everything from golden snappers and queenfish to milkfish, giant trevally, mangrove jacks, milkfish, and oversized grouper. Krabi is one destination you wouldn’t want to miss as you cross the globe searching for exotic fish.
From Krabi, Thailand, we travel halfway across the world to Hawaii. One of the best spots to enjoy spearfishing. Not least because here in Hawaii, it’s an ancient practice that goes back centuries ago. Spearfishing is a right in Hawaii and you don’t need a special permit to go after fish with your pole spear, speargun, or Hawaiian sling.
Some of the best fish to catch here include barracuda, mahi mahi, ono, billfish, and wahoo. You can also find several tuna species in Kailua-Kona. Most of the beaches are open all year round and the visibility is great even at great depths. The only rule is you’re not allowed to wear scuba gear when you go spearfishing.
San Diego, California
We leave Hawaii and head northeast to San Diego, California where the beaches extend for miles, the sand is white, and the water is pristine. But we’re not here to get a tan. Rather it’s the Pacific halibut that attracts us to these waters. It’s the season and you don’t even have to dive to great depths to find it. The halibut practically swims up to you.
Besides the giant Pacific halibut, you can also go after Bonita, sheep head, white and striped bass, red snapper, barracuda, and yellowtail among others. San Diego accommodates all types of spearfishing and you don’t have to be a skilled or experienced spearo to go home with a bagful of fish.
Another ancient spot where spearfishing is a sacred tradition. At least that is how the Portuguese treated it. It was more of a survival skill than a pass time for them. Huddled against the eastern boundaries of the Atlantic, the water is warm and calm which creates the ultimate experience to go spearfishing for all skill levels.
As an island, tuna fishing has been the main staple of life here. You’ll quickly get to know the best tips and tricks to catch that marine giant along with other species such as the groupers, snappers, and mahi mahi. Other places worth exploring include Azores Bank, Condor Bank, and Princess Alice Bank.
If you only had a few destinations to choose from for your ultimate spearfishing journey, and Cozumel, Mexico was one of them, then you should definitely choose this fascinating destination on the Gulf of Mexico. What makes it such an exceptional spearfishing destination is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.
Reefs attract fish of all shapes and colors and as the second-largest reef in the world, this one is home to various species that make it their home all year round. Triggerfish, lionfish, snapper, Groupers swarm around these waters as well as the wahoo, mahi mahi, and barracuda. Most of the spearfishing here is of the deep water variety and you’ll need to take a boat ride to the nearest spot about 20 minutes from the shore.
We leave the warm Atlantic and head east where about 18,000 islands make up the country of Indonesia. One of those islands, Bali, is a magnet for tourists and fun lovers from all over the world. It’s also a great place to enjoy spearfishing.
Bali is open all year round for spearos and you are spoilt for options as far as fish species are concerned. Mostly it’s the big hitters here like tuna, sailfish, giant trevally, Spanish mackerel, and dogtooth tuna. This last one is a monster of a fish that reaches 250 pounds on a good day. You’ll need a lot of experience and a few diving buddies with you to go after it.
Zamami Island, Japan
Once you’ve had enough fighting the dogtooth tuna and want cooler water to freshen up, it’s time to head over to Japan. Even though they practically share the same waters of the Pacific, Japan has more fish both in species and numbers. The only drawback is the Japanese waters are not open all year round the same way Bali is. It’s mostly a summertime activity here.
Zamami Island has had fishing as its main rice bowl since time immemorial. Fishermen on the island honed their skills for hundreds of years and got this sport down to a T. Here as well as in Okinawa the waters are teeming with Japanese yellowtail, horse mackerel, Bonito, amberjack, and snapper among others.
Cape Verde, Senegal
Africa also has its fair share of spearfishing hotspots. Since the continent straddles a strategic place between the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, you can imagine that spearos would go exploring these hundreds of miles of shore looking for a good hotspot to dive and spear some fish.
Cape Verde is one such spot. It’s about 400 miles off the coast of Senegal in the Atlantic Ocean. But these volcanic islands are well worth the trip.
North Carolina, USA
Back to the good old US for a brief stop at North Carolina which welcomes spearos during the summer months. It’s a place that got it all from a spearfisher’s point of view. Large hogfish, good visibility, and shipwrecks that dot the ocean floor.
When you find yourself in North Carolina, point your boat towards the ocean where 15 miles off the shore you’ll find The Suloide. It’s a giant German freighter that sank during WWII and is now home to thousands of fish. Besides hogfish, you’ll come across cobia, amberjack, and African pompano. And did we mention that 10-pound lobsters can be found scuttling the floors of these silent seas?
Block Island, New England
While Block Island is not exactly the first name that comes to mind when one considers a hot spearfishing destination, it is still one of the oldest places where spearfishing has been practiced. Nowadays however it’s more of a sport than a means to put bread on the table. Which makes it all the more convenient since nothing spoils the fun like competing against professionals underwater.
Atlantic sea bass is what makes Block Island stand out among all the spearfishing spots in New England. Scup, bluefish, fluke, triggerfish, and black sea bass make up for a nice hunt. Make sure to read the local rules about size and bag limits.
The thing about Ascension Island is that geographically speaking it’s a no man’s land. It does not belong to any certain political entity so it’s easy to understand why it’s not on many people’s radars. Located in the middle of the Atlantic, the island has some of the largest tuna you can find anywhere in this ocean.
The volcanic island has been uninhabited since it first made its appearance on the map somewhere between Brazil and Central Africa. This makes it an ideal place to find large and monstrous fish such as wahoo and billfish. It’s a bit out of the way but well worth it for the adventurous spearo.
Kenya is an emerging destination for luxury trips in the market. Tourists enjoy the beautiful beaches, calm waters, and almost untouched landscape. Spearos also got their sights on this country in West Africa thanks to its rich variety of fish.
Here are a few of the fish spearos go after in Kenya. Cobia, grand trevally’s jacks, marlin, sailfish, king mackerel, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, barracuda, as well as the usual grouper and snapper variety are too tempting to let this Kenya experience pass you. It’s a bit more expensive than other spearfishing destinations but totally worth it.
It’s not every day that you travel to a continent to choose which spot to go spearfishing. Australia is such a place. First practiced by the aborigines, spearfishing is a favorite pastime among locals and visitors alike. From Perth to the west to Sydney in the east, the whole country is one big spearfishing destination.
New South Wales, for example, has about 75 spearfishing locations and that’s just one province. Spearguns are not allowed in many places so you’ll need to check the local rules. Some of the fish you’ll encounter there include surgeonfish, Spanish mackerel, jewfish, kingfish, squid, bream, crayfish, sweetlips, and morwong.
The land of the Hobbits is near Australia and has something to offer in the way of fish for the weary spearo. Some of the best places to go include Hen & Chick Islands, Little Barrier, and Great Barrier. And since it shares the same waters as Australia, you’ll find the same species here as well.
The only difference is in the cost. New Zealand is by far much cheaper than charters offered in Australia. While you won’t have as many spearfishing locations as what Australia offers, New Zealand is still a good destination for the curious spearo.
Nosy Be, Madagascar
Madagascar is not exactly on the tourist map unless you’re a hardcore traveler. As an island off the east coast of Africa, this country has some unique flora and fauna that charted its own course in evolution. Nosy Be is famous for its fragrant air thanks to the cocoa, and vanilla trees. But of course, you’re here for what’s underwater. And you won’t be disappointed.
Marlin and sailfish, as well as giant trevally, dogtooth tuna, Spanish mackerel, and wahoo, make Nosy Be a destination well worth your time and money. Get ready to wrestle with the giants of the sea and come out victorious more often than not.
St. Lazarus Bank, Mozambique
Mozambique sits pretty on the east coast of Africa facing Madagascar and wondering if penguins really come to that island or it’s just in the movies. With 2,400 miles of coastline, the country has a front seat view of the Indian Ocean.
You’ll find most of the big players that patrol Madagascar waters here in Mozambique as well. In many cases, you won’t feel a difference between the two countries. Both Metundo Canyon and St. Lazarus Bank are the best places to go spearfishing in Mozambique.
Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
Sitting smack dab in the middle of the Caribbean, Costa Rica is a dream destination for divers and spearfishers from the world over. But for spearos, they usually flock to these waters mostly for the cubera. This is a giant snapper red in color and reaches monstrous sizes.
Besides the cubera, you also get to hunt pargo rojo, wahoo, mullet snapper, roosterfish, marlin, sailfish, pargo amarillo, and many others. You also get to dive with humpback whales that flock to these waters all year round.
Maluku Islands, Indonesia
The Maluku Islands stand out among the thousands of islands that give Indonesia its distinct character. What’s special about this set of islands is that they’re practically unexplored and undeveloped. They still maintain their natural touch and are inhabited by indigenous people. So this is one experience you’d want to have before development takes over.
The steep drop offs and strong currents mean you need to have a lot of experience before you jump into the water. That and sulfur springs and venomous sea snakes make it a perilous experience for the uninitiated. You’re mostly going after dogtooth tuna and large snappers.
Malta is a relatively small island in the Mediterranean that relies on tourists to keep its economy flowing. Spearos make up a large portion of those tourists. The island is literally a graveyard of ships that go back hundreds of years ago. Many of these ships were warships that invaded the island but obviously failed in their mission.
The water is clear and calm in the Mediterranean so all levels of experience are welcome to Malta. Some of the fish you’ll come across here include albacore, barracuda, bonito, amberjack, skipjack, and dorado which is another name for mahi mahi.
Key West, Florida
You know a good list of the best places to go spearfishing wouldn’t be complete without Florida featuring prominently on it. And Key West is probably the place to visit when your passion for spearfishing takes you past the Sunshine State. It’s the location of big fish and big entertainment all rolled into one.
Hogfish, snappers, groupers, and tuna flourish around here just as one would expect in these warm waters. What Florida offers is a chance to explore both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. You can go after the wahoo, mahi mahi, and barracudas as well. Just pay attention to the local regulations and which places are off-limits to spearos.