Fishing in Costa Rica is a dream come true for anyone who loves to fish. With two coasts — the Pacific Coast and Caribbean Coast — and plenty of lakes, rivers, and streams throughout the country, it is no wonder Costa Rica is one of the best fishing destinations in Central America!
Costa Rica offers all types of fishing — sport fishing, inshore fishing, freshwater fishing, deep sea fishing, fly fishing, and more. Keep reading to discover the best places to embark on a fishing adventure in Costa Rica, what types of fish you can catch, and each type of fishing to determine which is best for you.
- Costa Rica Fishing Locations
- Costa Rica Fishing Calendar
- Different Types of Fishing in Costa Rica
- Find the Perfect Launching Point for Your Costa Rica Fishing Trip
Costa Rica Fishing Locations
Regardless of where you are staying in Costa Rica, you are bound to have an excellent fishing destination nearby. These are some of the top locations for fishing in Costa Rica.
Northern Pacific Coast
The Northern Pacific Coast is filled with beach towns and fishing villages, like Playa Flamingo and Playa Potrero, that are excellent for inshore, offshore, and shore fishing. You can find dozens of fishing charters at the Marina Flamingo, a brand-new marina with a shopping center, condos, and planned spaces for 180 fishing boats.
The Gulf of Papagayo is another popular spot on the Northern Pacific Coast for catching mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, sailfish, and other fish species. The Marina Papagayo in Culebra Bay is a top fishing destination in Guanacaste and can fit up to 180 fishing boats!
Central Pacific Coast
There are several excellent fishing locations on Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast. Quepos, the main town near Manuel Antonio National Park, is home to Marina Pez Vela — a world-class marina that often hosts fishing tournaments and competitions that attract thousands of anglers and fishermen worldwide. You can catch sailfish, roosterfish, snapper, dorado, and marlin off the Central Pacific Coast in Quepos.
In addition to Marina Pez Vela, there is another popular marina along the Central Pacific Coast in Jaco — Los Suenos Marina is Playa Herradura. Los Suenos Marina is the only government-sanctioned marina in Costa Rica and is a popular spot for catching marlin and roosterfish.
Southern Pacific Coast
There are several excellent fishing destinations on the remote Osa Peninsula, including Drake Bay and the Golfo Dulce.
However, Crocodile Bay Resort in Puerto Jimenez is the place to stay for inshore, offshore, kayak, and shore fishing on the Osa Peninsula. Crocodile Bay Resort has a private fleet of 40 fishing boats, and fishermen have been known to catch marlin, sailfish, grouper, snapper, roosterfish, and other fish species from this popular location.
Northern Caribbean Coast
There are not as many places to go fishing on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast as in the Pacific Ocean. However, the river mouths of the Rio San Juan and Rio Colorado both empty out into the ocean along the Northern Caribbean Coast and are excellent locations to catch tarpon, snook, dorado, and other species that are favorites among fly fishermen.
You can also book an offshore fishing excursion from towns on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, like Puerto Viejo, to catch wahoo, tripletail, mahi-mahi, and sailfish. Cahuita National Park is an excellent location for reef fishing — you can catch snook, tarpon, tripletail, and mahi-mahi.
Lake & River Fishing
You don’t have to be staying near the ocean to find great fishing in Costa Rica. Aside from the jungle rivers, Lake Arenal is one of the top destinations for fishing in Costa Rica and is an exceptional place to catch rainbow bass — the prize game fish caught in the freshwater lakes and rivers in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Fishing Calendar
There is good fishing in Costa Rica regardless of the time of year you visit. However, if you want to plan your fishing trip with the intention of catching a specific type of fish, you can use the guide below to determine the best time to go fishing in Costa Rica.
- Striped, Black & Blue Marlin — The best time to catch blue marlin, striped marlin, or black marlin in Costa Rica is October – December.
- Sailfish — The best time to catch sailfish in Costa Rica is October – March.
- Yellowfin Tuna — You can catch yellowfin tuna year-round.
- Mahi-Mahi — The best time to catch mahi-mahi in Costa Rica is October – March.
- Roosterfish — The best time to catch roosterfish in Costa Rica is July – September.
- Wahoo — The best time to catch wahoo in Costa Rica is January – September.
- Snapper — The best time to catch snapper in Costa Rica is July – December.
- Mini Tarpon — The best time to catch tarpon in Costa Rica is January – May.
- Snook — The best time to catch snook is October – November, but you can also catch them in March and April.
- Atlantic Sailfish — You can catch Atlantic sailfish year-round.
- Wahoo — You can catch wahoo year-round.
- Tripletail — You can catch tripletail year-round.
Different Types of Fishing in Costa Rica
Offshore Fishing (Deep Sea Fishing)
Offshore fishing (deep sea fishing) is the most popular option for fishing in Costa Rica. You often catch marlin, sailfish, roosterfish, and other large fish while on a deep-sea fishing trip.
The most popular places to go deep sea fishing in Costa Rica are in the Pacific Ocean, at locations like the Gulf of Papagayo, Playa Flamingo, and Quepos. You will need to hire a sport fishing charter for your deep-sea fishing adventure — half-day to full-day fishing charters range from $600 – $2000. Your sport fishing charter will include fishing equipment, gear, crew, and the fishing license. Remember that most sport fishing in Costa Rica is on a catch-and-release basis.
Inshore fishing is another popular choice for ocean fishing in Costa Rica. Like offshore fishing, an inshore fishing trip also requires a fishing charter, but since you will be staying closer to shore, it is more common to catch smaller fish, like wahoo, snapper, and mahi-mahi.
Inshore fishing is popular in the Gulf of Papagayo, Quepos, Playa Tamarindo, and in the Caribbean Sea. Usually, fishing charters for inshore fishing are cheaper than offshore, so if you are looking for fishing packages that offer exceptional value — this is a great place to start. With inshore fishing, you can also keep the fish you catch, which is a huge benefit.
Shore fishing isn’t as common as inshore or sport fishing, but it is a popular option in some of the beach towns in Guanacaste, like Playa Flamingo or Playas del Coco. You will often see locals on the shore with just a line and a hook, and you can always give this method a try, too — you will be able to keep what you catch and cook it at home.
Shore fishing is not something you will have much success with year-round. Instead, wait until peak season, when the fish are closest to the shore, to give it a try.
In addition to sport fishing and inshore fishing that you can enjoy on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast and Pacific Coast, there are also plenty of lakes, rivers, and bodies of water where you can go freshwater fishing in Costa Rica.
Lake Arenal is perhaps the most popular spot for freshwater fishing in Costa Rica. If you go fishing here, you can catch rainbow bass, trout, bluegill, and other types of fish.
Fly fishing is another option for fishing in Costa Rica. Though not as popular as sport fishing or inshore fishing, some companies specialize in fly fishing trips in Costa Rica. The most common place to go fly fishing is in the rivers of Costa Rica that empty into the Caribbean Sea.
Many locals enjoy fishing from kayaks in Costa Rica — both inshore fishing off the coasts and freshwater fishing in the country’s lakes and rivers. If you want to give kayaking and fishing a try during your trip to Costa Rica, there are plenty of tour providers that equip you with all the gear and equipment you need for a successful day out on the water, including a kayak, paddle, fishing rod, bait, tackle, and more.
Costa Rica Fishing FAQs
Costa Rica has the perfect mix of beautiful reefs, shallow bays, deep offshore waters, and freshwater rivers and lakes. Because of its diversity, Costa Rica is one of the best destinations for fishing in Central America. You can catch marlin, sailfish, tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, rainbow trout, and other coveted species of fish in the waters of Costa Rica.
The best months for fishing in Costa Rica depend on what you want to catch. For example, marlin, mahi-mahi, and sailfish fishing is excellent from October – December on the Pacific Coast, but if you want to catch roosterfish, you are better off visiting from July – September.
The Pacific Coast is filled with tons of modern marinas and fantastic beach towns, making both inshore and offshore fishing along the Pacific Coast better than the Caribbean Coast.
You need a fishing license during your trip to Costa Rica if you will be fishing from a vessel in an ocean or lake. However, most fishing charters carry a fishing license, so unless you are fishing on your own boat, you should be covered during your Costa Rica fishing trip.
Find the Perfect Launching Point for Your Costa Rica Fishing Trip
Guanacaste is one of the best destinations in Costa Rica for offshore, inshore, and shore fishing. If you would like to stay near a world-class marina, consider booking one of our vacation rentals in Playa Flamingo for quick access to fishing excursions from Marina Flamingo.