It’s no contest: Costa Rica and, specifically, Guanacaste sportfishing offer some of the most record-breaking, tall tale-spinning, world-renowned inshore and offshore fishing opportunities in the Americas.

How’s that for an intro? And yet, it’s all true: Costa Rica is not only an incredibly popular sport fishing destination, but our specific area – that is, central Guanacaste, in the waters off Tamarindo and north through Flamingo, Playas del Coco, and Papagayo – offer some of the country’s biggest record-breakers, personal bests, and monster fish of them all, including Costa Rica’s very photogenic billfish and sailfish. Case in point: the black marlin can reach an astounding 1,600+ pounds (725+ kilograms)!

What’s more, many of our fish species are non-migratory, meaning they troll our waters year-round, offering nearly boundless Guanacaste sportfishing opportunities. Truly, there’s a reason why so many anglers move to Costa Rica: the day-to-day prospects are staggering!

From a purely lifestyle perspective, your prospects aren’t bad, either: Here, you can swap the north’s icy fishing holes and freezing rain for year-round sunshine, clear waters, and endless blue skies (even on rainy season mornings!). Let’s suffice it to say that sportfishing in Costa Rica isn’t an endurance sport – until you hook a big one! Then, it’s time to buckle up (literally!).

Guanacaste Sportfishing: Guide to Inshore Species + Seasons

Guanacaste Sportfishing_ Guide to Inshore Species + Seasons

Photo credit: Fishing Tamarindo 506

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of all inshore Guanacaste sportfishing species, it does cover the five species you’ll most often encounter. In alphabetical order, they are mackerel, roosterfish, snapper, snook, and wahoo.

Note that tarpon, which are common in river mouths, estuaries, and other brackish water, are hard-fighting, incredible fish that inhabit the Atlantic/Caribbean coast. If you’re an avid angler, you’ll want to book a trip to Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean (Parismina area), as you almost can’t live in Costa Rica and call yourself an angler without catching a tarpon!


Mackerel fishing Costa Rica

If you love the meaty qualities of tuna (and the eye-catching beauty of a roosterfish), then you’ll probably love Pacific Sierra mackerel, an abundant species prevalent in inshore Guanacaste sportfishing.

This iridescent fish is spectacular when viewed in person, sporting silver-blue scales, a dark aqua stripe, and lateral golden spots. And, while they’re not particularly hard fighters, at 3.5 feet (1 meter) and about 12-18 lbs. (5.5-8 kgs), they’ll earn you a delicious meal, thanks to their sweet, medium-texture, and rosy flesh.

Mackerel Season: Mackerel can be found year-round off our coasts, often found in larger schools around rocks, reefs, and wrecks.


Roosterfish fishing Costa Rica

Known for their distinctive dorsal fin and spiky “rooster’s comb,” roosterfish are both abundant and common year-round, making them a target of many Guanacaste sportfishing dreams.

Known for their speed and might, roosterfish are hefty fighters, typically weighing in around 25-50 lbs. (9-23 kgs.) but with a few lucky anglers pulling in 5+ foot-long (1.5 meter-long), 100+ lb. (45+ kg.) specimens. Their size, rooster comb, and shiny silver-and-striped bodies make for a photogenic photo op, while the fish themselves promise a fight big enough to win a place in your personal sportfishing lore.

Roosterfish Season: Prevalent year-round, with a slight peak from December to April.


Snapper fishing Costa Rica

As much as Costa Rica loves snapper, snapper may love Costa Rican waters even more, as evidenced by their large size: cubera snapper can measure up to 5 feet long and 125+ lbs. (57+ kgs.)! (Tall tales aside, note that cubera snapper most often hit the 50-80 pound range.)

Teasing year-round promise, several of the country’s snapper species can be found off Guanacaste’s coast, including pargo (red snapper) and cubera (Pacific dog snapper) – the latter, the largest, meatiest, and perhaps most sought-after of the family.

Snapper Season: While you can catch them year-round, if your heart is set on snapper, then you might have a bit of extra luck during peak rainy season months, from June through October.


Snook fishing Costa Rica

Snook, which you’ll find on local menus labeled robalo, is not only one of the most enjoyable inshore (read: brackish water near river mouths and estuaries) species to catch, but also some of the best tasting. And that makes it a major prize both for Guanacaste sportfishing cred and for catching your next meal. (Note: Snook are more common on the Caribbean coast, but you can find them to the south of our province, around Samara and Carrillo.)

There are several snook species in the world, but the one you’ll find here is common snook. These hard-fighting fish aren’t very large – Costa Rica actually holds the world record, at nearly 54 lbs. (24.5 kgs.)! – but they jump and thrash as they try to throw the hook, making for a thrilling, hard-won battle.

Snook Season: Snook can be caught year-round off the shores of southern Guanacaste, although there are reported spikes in catches in December and January.


Wahoo fishing Costa Rica

A favorite for both inshore/nearshore and offshore fishing – in season, they’re a common catch when trolling for marlin, tuna, and other offshore species – wahoo is known locally for its size, speed, and sharp teeth. (Wire leaders, preferred!)

Many anglers specifically seek out wahoo for their incredible speed, which has been clocked at incredible 64 mph (103 kph) bursts – a genuine thrill, thanks to the species’ unique power and truly fun fight. Off Guanacaste, wahoo can reach 8+ feet (2.5+ meters) nearly 200 lbs. (90 kgs.), adding to your enjoyment.

Wahoo Season: You’ll have best luck from late May through September, with a dip October-December and mild peaks in August and September.

Guanacaste Sportfishing: Guide to Offshore Species + Seasons

Guanacaste shines when it comes to deep-sea and offshore fishing, for which our region is world-famous. Billfish and sailfish are particularly exciting, although any of the region’s catches have the potential to inspire tall tales and fishing yarns.

Note that most billfish and sailfish are catch-and-release only, so bring your camera for proof of your personal record-breaker!

Mahi Mahi (Dorado)

Mahi Mahi fishing Costa Rica

Known in Costa Rica as dorado, mahi mahi is a particular favorite for Guanacaste sportfishing, thanks to its strong fight and large size – up to about 85 lbs. (38.5 kgs) off our coasts!

This species of true fish – note: though sometimes called dolphinfish, mahi mahi is not remotely related to mammalian dolphins – is best known for its brilliant coloration and small dorsal sails, which make them both speedy swimmers and showy fish. But, as we said, dorado is best known and loved for the fight that gave it its name: mahi mahi means “very strong” in Hawai’ian!

Mahi Mahi Season: While you can fish dorado year-round, the species peaks from late May through early October, when the rivers flood and create nearshore conditions that invite even smaller mahi mahi (up to 15 lbs.) to hover close to the coast.

Marlin (Blue, Black, and Striped)

Marlin fishing Costa Rica

The pinnacle of Costa Rica’s offshore fishing and the Big Daddy of Guanacaste, marlin is the dream of every angler willing and wanting to fight the good fight. And by that, we do mean a good fight; you could be hours in the chair!

In Costa Rica and Guanacaste, our marlin are the inspiration for wonder and dreams, reaching a colossal ≤500 lbs. (striped marlin), ≤1,400 pounds (blue marlin), and ≤1,600 lbs. (black marlin). These catch-and-release species can also measure up to a striking 15 feet (4.5 meters), making for quite an impressive photo opportunity!

Marlin Season: Marlin season is caught year-round off the Guanacaste coast, though catches typically peak from around mid-November through February, declining in mid-March through mid-June, and rising again for a second peak in August and September. If you’re being species-specific – and again, if you’re after marlin, you can likely find it every month of the year, then plan on year-round (striped marlin), December-April (big blue marlin), and December-April (black marlin).


Sailfish fishing Costa Rica

Incredibly showy, sailfish are a large, hard-fighting, and often acrobatic species that make for thrilling catches and exciting yarns you’ll tell for decades.

Those tales will be well earned, though, thanks to the sheer exhilaration of hooking a sailfish: One minute, you’re sailing through sun-dappled sea and the next, you’re strapped to a chair and harnessing all your strength and skill for the fight of your life! This is the stuff fishing dreams are made of. Note that sailfish are a catch-and-release species.

Sailfish Season: You can hook sailfish year-round off of Guanacaste, but you’ll have your best luck at catching a trophy from April to September, when 90-110 lbs. (40-50 kgs.) specimens are at their peak. Fewer catches are registered from about mid-October through November, picking up again in December with migration patterns.

Tuna (Yellowfin)

Tuna fishing Costa Rica

Ah, our old friend, the yellowfin tuna! This is the fish that, when no one else seems to want to bite, comes in clutch for Guanacaste sportfishing. Because, while bigeye and skipjack tuna also rank as common catches off our coasts, most anglers are really after yellowfin – and for good reason! They’re both impressive and delicious.

Known to congregate around schools of spinner dolphins, Costa Rica’s yellowfin typically tip the scales at 30-200 lbs. (13.5-91 kgs.). Catch a little bit of luck, though, and you could be looking at a trophy “cow” weighing up to an impressive 300+ lbs (136+ kgs.)!

Yellowfin Tuna Season: Caught year-round, with a somewhat noticeable peak from June through October. Additionally, if you’re nearshore fishing, yellowfin (and the occasional bigeye) are a solid opportunity, often congregating <30 minutes off the coast at the Catalina Islands.

Guanacaste Sportfishing: Marinas to House Your Boat

Guanacaste Sportfishing_ Marinas to House Your Boat

Pictured: the new Flamingo Marina

If you’re a resident rather than a visitor, and if you’re a hobbyist-to-serious angler rather than a day-tripper, then you’re probably looking more toward your own boat, rather than a fishing charter.

And if that’s the case, then you’ll be happy to know that Costa Rica’s Pacific coast houses 7 marinas offering a range of amenities and services, from wet and dry docks to filtered fuel and dockside concierges:

  • Marina Papagayo (Papagayo, Guanacaste): 180 Wet Slips (plans for 350 total), shops, rental suites & private residences, 12 restaurants
  • Flamingo Marina (Playa Flamingo, Guanacaste): 92 slips, onsite resort Beach Club, restaurants, rental suites and villas
  • Los Sueños Resort and Marina (Playa Herradura / Jacó, Central Pacific): 200 wet slips, 116 dry slips, fuel dock, Marriott hotel, 4 restaurants, golf course, fishing tournaments, and full-time staff
  • Marina Paz Vela (Quepos / Manuel Antonio, Central Pacific): 195 Wet Slips, Yacht Yard with 200 Ton Travelift, Dry Rack, 6 restaurants, rental villas, and fishing tournaments
  • Banana Bay Marina (Golfito, South Pacific): 20 wet slips, hotel, restaurant
  • Fish Hook Marina (Golfito, South Pacific): 22 slips, extra-wide docks, onsite dockmaster, lodge, restaurant
  • Marina Bahía Golfito (Golfito, South Pacific): 45 Wet Slips, hotel, 2 restaurants

Learn more about these seven Costa Rica marinas, including the new Flamingo Marina.

Want to Talk Guanacaste Sportfishing & Life in Costa Rica?

Want to Talk Guanacaste Sportfishing _ Life in Costa Rica

You may not know that our entire Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica team lives in Guanacaste – and some of us, in Playa Flamingo and Playa Potrero. Want a first-hand account of what it’s like to call Flamingo home? We’re happy to help, in any way we can!

Because at Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica, we’re committed to you. Not to selling you a property or spamming you with all the options, but to helping – genuinely and with good intent – to match you to the perfect property for your needs and wants. We thrive on relationships and promise the fastest communication and best services in the industry.

At Blue Water Properties of Costa Rica, we’re proud to offer some of the best Costa Rica real estate. We have both condos and homes, land and businesses for sale. Go ahead – try us. Give us a chance to show off our expertise – and wow you with the possibilities! We look forward to it.