Spearfishing In Costa Rica: Places, Rules and What to Catch

All You Need to Know About Spearfishing In Costa Rica

When it comes to the Caribbean, few water bodies rival it in beauty, diversity of marine life, and clement weather. Costa Rica is hands down the jewel in the Caribbean crown. The local culture is exotic, rich, and multilayered. And the people are so welcoming and easy-going. It’s no wonder that many spearos have a soft spot for Costa Rica.

For all its many attractions, spearfishing is by far one of the best adventures to enjoy in Costa Rica. The country has so many hotspots for spearos, you’d probably need more than one vacation to cover them all. The regulations are relatively lax and permissive compared to other countries and the fish are plentiful.

So where would you go to find the best spearfishing spots in Costa Rica? And what types of fish will you find there and how to catch them? How about the gear you need? So many questions and since you don’t have enough time to find answers for them all, we took it upon ourselves to bring you all the answers in one place.

Spearfishing Places In Costa Rica

You’ve just checked into your hotel at San José, the capital of Costa Rica. You don’t have time to change or shower. The call of the adventure is loud and you can’t believe you’re only a short distance away from some of the spearfishing spots on the planet. So you call a cab, pack your gear into the trunk and you tell the driver to take you to the top spearfishing hotspot in the country. The cab driver turns his head to you and asks, “Which one?”

Northern Caribbean Coast

Even if you have never been to Costa Rica before and know absolutely nothing about the lay of the land and its geography, don’t flinch. Just tell the driver to take you to the Northern Caribbean Coast. Here you’ll find plenty of freshwater fish, clear water, easy access spots, and great visibility even deep in the water.

The area is mostly underdeveloped which is great news for us spearos. That means no competition from fishermen, no vacationing crowds, and no touristy establishments. The North Caribbean Coast is a cheap area to live and explore. The locals are kind and accommodating and it’s easy to find a local guide to teach you about the best ways to catch the fish in these parts.

Manuel Antonio

You’ll find this cozy village hugging the ocean in North Puntarenas. It’s not exactly on the tourist map of the country, but once you get there you’ll appreciate the fact that not many tourists know about it. The only people you’ll find here apart from the locals, are nature lovers and adventurers of all types like yourself.

Plenty of saltwater fish in these parts. Especially large tropical fish that frequent the depths of the ocean and need some skill and diving experience to reach. Marlin and sailfish are seen a lot in the area along with many other big game.

Osa Peninsula

As the name indicates this is an island located in the southwestern tip of Costa Rica. It’s as remote an area as they come. Which means you’ll have all the privacy and freedom to explore the water and the beaches to your heart’s content without being disturbed by or disturbing the locals or visitors.

Among the many fish swimming in these waters, the cubera snapper is by far the most alluring. It’s not just because it’s a large fish that reaches monstrous sizes, but because catching such a fish is a feat that many spearos aspire to.

Tamarindo, Guanacaste

If there’s only one place you want to visit in Costa Rica for the sole purpose of spearfishing, this is the one. This is the hotspot of all hotspots. It’s open all year round and it doesn’t, it seems, run out of fish. That said, you can expect to find lots of tourists and fellow spearos flocking to this area.

Crowdedness aside, Tamarindo is worth all the trouble you go to to visit and enjoy the local experience. Some seasonal fish come to these waters but snappers make it their home all year round. Don’t forget to seek a local expert to learn a few valuable tricks and tips.

Jaco/Los Sueños Marina

Here’s a pro tip about this specific hotspot. If you really want to find the biggest schools of fish and enjoy a wonderful spearfishing experience, then time your visit between the months of December and March.

Large fish call Los Sueños Marina their home thanks mainly to the lack of currents or swells in this area. The water is calm which is good news for all spearos who find diving challenging or still haven’t developed enough courage to spearfish in the big ocean.

Information About License, Rules, And Regulations

As you might have noticed, the fish wealth is dwindling worldwide. Commercial fishing has depleted the fish in the oceans. That’s the main reason many countries have put in place rules and regulations regarding fishing of all kinds. It’s not to limit your options or make your spearfishing experience less fun. It’s just to protect the fish.

Costa Rica is no exception here. The country has rules about who goes fishing, where, when, and what types of fish are allowed. So the first thing you need to do when you get to Costa Rica is apply for a fishing license.

As for other rules regarding the size of the fish allowed and bag limit, we’ll cover those in more detail when we talk about the fish species to go after in Costa Rica. These rules are type-specific and vary from one season to the next. So make sure to check the local regulations in your area before you head out to sea.

What to Catch In Costa Rica (Types Of Fish)?

Now comes the million dollar question. After going through all this trouble of flying to Costa Rica, booking a hotel, getting into a cab and heading to the hotspot of your choice. After all of this, are you going to find some great fish or is it just the regular types that you find at home?

To answer this question we need to list some of the most prominent fish species that inhabit the Costa Rican water either permanently or come to visit at times. We listed the Latin name next to each fish to make it easier for you to find out more information about it if you like.

Sailfish (Istiophorus)

This is by far one of the biggest fish attractions in the whole of Costa Rica. It’s one of the largest fish you’ll find in these waters as well. The adult sailfish can reach 120 pounds although it’s unlikely you’ll come across such big monsters swimming near the surface.

Sailfish are around all year round. Although the first half of the year between January and July is usually where you’ll see a lot of them. As leapers, it’s a delight just to watch their shimmering bodies under the sun when they breach the surface. But as a spearo, a good sailfish is one at the end of my spear.

Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans)

Another giant that loves the warm waters of Costa Rica. the blue marlin reaches 300 pounds on a good day. As such, you need to have a lot of experience with big fish to go after this monster. Also these fish are notoriously aggressive. This is not the kind of fish to run away when it sees you coming with a spear. Most likely it will attack.

While they make Costa Rica their home all year round the best hotspots for spearfishing blue marlins are Los Suenos, and Golfito. The best months to find blue marlins are the last three months of the year between October and December.

Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)

 Another giant of the sea that reaches 300 pounds on average. You can find lots of yellowfin tuna between the months of July and September around Quepos and Los Suenos. This is another fish that needs all the experience and skills as a spearo that you can muster.

Yellowfin tuna are not an easy target. They are fast and always on the move. Most spearos prefer to hunt yellowfin tuna on board a fast boat since you can’t keep up with this fast swimmer.

Snapper (Lutjanidae)

You’ll find many species of snapper in Costa Rica. Their size varies from 3 to 100 pounds. But just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re easy to catch.  They dwell in shallow as well as deep water and are the most common fish to go after here.

Costa Rica Spearfishing Cost

There are three types of fishing licenses based on duration and cost.

  • Annual license. Valid for the whole year from the day you apply for it. It costs about $50 and applies to all sorts of fishing including spearfishing.
  • Monthly license. Has the same rules as the annual license. Only it lasts for only 30 days from the day of issuance. A month-long license costs about $30. That’s steep so if you come to Costa Rica often for spearfishing, an annual license is a cost-saving option.
  • Weekly license. It’s only valid for about 8 days from the day of issuance and costs $15 making it the most expensive option.

As for other costs such as gear, boat, and local guides, these are not expensive nor will they break the bank.

Costa Rica Spearfishing Guide

Before we leave Costa Rica it’s worth talking about the different types of spearfishing you can do there. The first type is shore spearfishing. This one doesn’t require a boat or a guide. You just put on your diving gear and jump from the shore. Average depth is between 15 and 75 feet.

The second is boat spearfishing. As we mentioned this is the best method to go after fast swimmers like the yellowfin tuna. Be wary of big waves since they interfere with your aiming.

The last type is bluewater spearfishing. It’s an adventure of itself and you’ll need all your skills and patience to find and catch your target fish.

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