Mexico is known for a lot of things. Rich history, colorful culture, spicy cuisine, and some of the best beaches this side of the Atlantic. But what is less known is that spearfishing is gaining traction in the Mexican waters.
As we continue to explore the best spearfishing locations around the globe, Mexico stands out with its pristine waters, warm temperature, and variety of fish that make it a great destination for any spearo worth their salt. In Mexico, you’re spoilt for options as to where to go. From Cancun and Cozumel to Isla Mujeres each hotspot is more tempting than the next.
It’s not easy to sum up the whole Mexican spearfishing experience in one article. But I’ll do my best to give you the highlights of that wondrous country and what you need to know before you pack your bags and head to the airport.
Spearfishing Places in Mexico
Mexico is a big country occupying a large chunk of North America. And you can expect to find plenty of places to go diving and spearfishing either on the Atlantic coast or along the west front overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Here’s a rundown of some of the best hotspots to mark on the map.
As one of the most coveted places in the world for divers and spearfishers, Cozumel lives up to its international reputation. Most of the spearfishing done here is of the deepwater variety. No beach spearfishing in Cozumel because the beaches are expansive and usually packed with vacationers and fishermen.
Your main goal in Cozumel is the great reef situated between the island and the mainland. Reefs for a spearo are just as important as they are for marine life. A reef offers an opportunity to find a congregation of different species of fish in one place and enjoy spectacular views as a backdrop for your underwater adventure.
The deepwater also is littered with caves and shipwrecks attracting more fish and opportunities for the experienced spearo. What makes the experience even exceptional in Cozumel is the great visibility thanks to the bright sunlight and clear waters even at great depths. Depth varies from 6 feet to 30 feet so it’s a great spot for spearos of all skill levels.
You’ll find different kinds of fish to catch here. These include African pompano, Triggerfish, rainbow runner, amberjack, barracuda, snapper, lionfish, grouper, wahoo, and mahi-mahi among many others.
Translates literally to Women Island, Isla Mujeres is a window into the joyous and colorful world that is the Caribbean Sea. The water is calm and warm, the fish are plentiful, and visibility is great all day long. To make it even more tempting, the island is open all year round for spearfishing.
So what’s there not to like about Isla Mujeres? While the origin of the name is shrouded in mystery, there’s nothing mysterious about what gives this island such a great reputation among divers, fishermen, and spearos alike. Many underwater adventurers swear by it and we tend to take their word for it.
Like many islands in the Caribbean, Isla Mujeres has its fair share of shipwrecks. This, after all, was the favorite playground for pirates and mercenaries of all types in the 18th and 19th centuries. Every time you dive in these waters you’ll be exploring a slice of history that we only get to see in movies. And on that note, I’d like to send a shout out to Johnny Depp. He’s the man!
Visibility in Isla Mujeres is great as you can expect and the species to go after include mackerel, amberjack, yellow jack, barracuda, grouper, snapper, lionfish, hogfish, and mahi-mahi.
You may have heard of Cancun before. Its reputation as a great summer resort reaches almost every corner of the world. But recently spearos decided to explore its hidden fish wealth and they were not disappointed. Cancun is the whole deal as far as spearfishing is concerned.
To start off, the underwater topography varies so wildly you’d find it hard to hide your excitement. The drop offs are steep and sudden. The shipwrecks dot the landscape and give it an otherworldly feel. And let’s not forget about the ledges and coral heads that attract fish like moths to a lit candle.
Cancun caters to all spearos regardless of their level of experience. The novices will find plenty of shallow spots to hone their skills while the more experienced ones will enjoy the deep areas where larger fish live. The water temperature is steady and moderate all year round and you can find wahoo, lionfish, amberjack, yellow jack, barracuda, grouper, snapper, hogfish, mahi-mahi, and mackerel.
What sets Tulum apart from the other great spearfishing hotspots in Mexico has to be the Mayan ruins that give the city its character. Even when you’re leaving the land behind and heading down into the vast and open Caribbean Sea, these ancient ruins would still color your vision and add depth to your adventure.
Between the great beaches and the fish daring you to chase them underwater, Tulum is the perfect destination both for the casual as well as the professional spearo. The water is calm and the current is mild so you won’t expect any danger in your underwater dive. And just like in Cancun and Cozumel, the visibility is great all day.
The water depth varies between 18 and 75 feet. Tulum has some of the deepest spots in the whole of Mexico and that sends spearos tingling all over. Many of the fish you’ll find here are the common species that populate these waters. But because of the deep waters, you can go after large fish species as well. Tulum is famous for grouper, hogfish, mackerel, barracuda, snapper, and lionfish among other species.
Playa del Carmen
While both Playa del Carmen and Cozumel share the same reef, they each face a different side of that reef. Cozumel gets the nicer side with great visibility and more fish variety. But Playa del Carmen gets more water depth and offers a thrilling adventure for the experienced spearo.
With depth comes risk. You don’t know what you’ll find down there. And for some spearos, that’s exactly what makes spearfishing worth all the trouble. If you’re that kind of person, then Playa del Carmen is definitely the place to dive and explore.
The water here is less crowded with marine life as other spots, and you’ll find fewer shipwrecks and coral heads. But a 90-foot depth is not something to overlook. You can find snapper, wahoo, permit, African pompano, barracuda, lionfish, grouper, and mackerel in these waters.
Information about License, Rules, and Regulations
Unlike Hawaii or Malta, spearfishing is not considered a basic right of every individual of age in Mexico. In fact, you’ll need to fill up plenty of paperwork to get a license. It’s one of the few drawbacks of spearfishing in Mexico.
But the good news is, there are ways to make this arduous process seem less painful. If you’re checking in a resort, for example, the staff will take care of the paperwork for you and get you the license for a small fee. In fact, that’s the easiest way to get your permit and avoid wasting lots of precious time waiting for it.
As for regulations, they are abundant. At times they can be too stifling, but as a law-abiding spearo, you know better than to break the law in a foreign country. The regulations vary from one place to the next and they are related to fish size, species, and the usual spearfishing etiquette. Make sure to read the local rules before you head out to the sea.
What to Catch in Mexico (Types of Fish)
We already mentioned the fish species to find in every hotspot when we covered the top places to go spearfishing in Mexico. However, some of those fish might be unfamiliar to you so we’ll discuss them here.
One of the most curious fish species to find in the Caribbean Sea. The fish has an unusual look with an angular body that makes it look menacing. Despite its small size, the fish is quite aggressive and not easy to catch. The fish is found in great numbers in tropical waters and has no limits on fishing it.
You probably have seen the regular mackerel in your local supermarket before, all frozen and ready to be cooked. But the live mackerel is a whole different ball game. These chunky fish swim in schools and are good at detecting danger and playing the vanishing game. The adult mackerel reaches 4 pounds and nothing tastes quite like a fresh mackerel dinner. Especially one that you caught yourself.
The permit is a curious fish that live mainly in this corner of the Atlantic. It’s a medium size fish with a huge body and a relatively small mouth. But that mouth is ravenous when it comes to crabs, small fish, and shrimp. The permit is easy to catch mainly because its flat shape gives you a large target for your spear.
Mexico Spearfishing Cost
It’s not very expensive to get a private charter in Mexico. Just remember that this is a tourist country which means prices will be on the high end. As we saw, most of the spearfishing in Mexico is deepwater so you’ll need a boat.
You can hire a charter for $350 per trip. You could find cheaper options if you know your way around and don’t need the services of a guide. Gear is also available for rent at reasonable prices.
Mexico Spearfishing Guide
Before you indulge in your favorite sport in Mexico it’s always good practice to follow the guidelines and familiarize yourself with the local rules and regulations. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Only choose a reputable and licensed operator.
- Take care of the permit before you go spearfishing.
- Follow the safety rules faithfully.
- Charters vary depending on your experience, so pick the right one for you.
- Scuba tanks are not allowed when you go spearfishing.
- Legally, you have to eat what you catch. You’re not allowed to sell it.
Spearfishing in Mexico is a whole new experience thanks to the layered tapestry of the Mexican culture, waters, and landscape. Enjoy your adventure.