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The best fishing in the Caribbean turns the region into a dream destination for anyone who enjoys the thrill of landing a big fish or the adventure of the even bigger one that got away.

Winter, from December to February, is the best time for deep-sea fishing. In spring, reef fishing comes into its own.

Wherever you go, though, you should be aware of local fishing regulations. Hiring a boat and/or a guide is the best way to understand these sometimes complex rules—and in any case, locals know where to find the best fish. Note, too, that conservation is foremost, and most islands operate a catch-and-release policy.

With this in mind, here are some of the best places to embrace your inner Hemingway and seek out the best fishing in the Caribbean.

Puerto Rico

Beach of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico

Isla Verde, Puerto Rico

With the deepest place in the Atlantic Ocean only 75 miles north of Puerto Rico, the island is famous for its deep-sea fishing. San Juan and Fajardo are popular ports to find a charter boat with all you need for an exciting day on the water.

Puerto Rico joins the Dominican Republic and St. Lucia as good destinations for those seeking a sport fishing “Grand Slam”. This typically involves catching three specific species (such as marlin, sailfish, and tuna) in one day.

Puerto Rico, one of the best fishing in the Caribbean

Fishing in Puerto Rico

The two best fighting fish in these deeper waters are wahoo and mahi-mahi. If you prefer to stay in the calmer waters inshore, you’ll still have a good time hooking species such as bonefish and tarpon.

Puerto Rico’s many small islands and countless coves are a rich ground for fishing. Add in habitats that include mangrove forests, and rich Caribbean coral reefs, and you have a paradise for a vast number of fish.

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic, one of the best fishing in the Caribbean

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic’s 800-mile-long coastline is studded with fishing ports such as Puerto Plata. From them, deep-sea charter boats head out in search of record-breaking blue or white marlin, barracuda, and dorado (mahi-mahi), among many others.

Nearer to the coast, you can explore mangroves or estuaries for species that include snapper, grouper, snook, and barracuda. Those who enjoy surf fishing will hook smaller reef fish, as well as snook and tarpon.

These shallow waters are also ideal for “flats” fishing, especially in the winter months. Taking a bonefish, tarpon, or even a barracuda on a fly is every angler’s dream. You wouldn’t want to eat a bonefish, though; it’s all in the name, and the number of tiny bones means this species is far from ideal as a meal.


Belize, one of the best fishing in the Caribbean

Caye Caulker, Belize

Flats fishing is also popular in Belize, with fly fishers targeting bonefish, tarpon, and (on a  very good day) barracuda. Mangrove-lined coastal lagoons offer an ideal home for these species, among many others.

Out at sea, the big targets are marlin, sailfish, and tuna. Most charter boats are now catch-and-release, to preserve fish stocks, but the thrill of the catch remains forever.

The Belize Barrier Reef, the world’s second-largest barrier reef, is also a key area for fishing grouper, snapper, and jacks. From Caye Caulker, one of the Caribbean’s hidden gems, you can be fishing in a choice of tidal flats or deep blue water within 15 minutes.


Barbados, one of the best fishing in the Caribbean


Well known for its white sand beaches and pretty, British-style ambiance, Barbados is also one of the best Caribbean islands for fishing. The most eastern of the Caribbean islands, it’s exposed to the Atlantic, but its calmer west coast is sheltered by a coral reef.

This mix of rough Atlantic and milder Caribbean waters gives its waters up to 500 species of fish. The most popular for sport fishing are barracuda (available year-round), marlin (blue, and white), mahi-mahi, sailfish, and wahoo.

Fish at a market in Barbados

Market in Barbados

If the Atlantic is too rough to tempt you into a big game boat, try fishing from one of Barbados’ beaches. While the wilder parts of the Atlantic coast don’t make this an option, the rest of the coastline more than compensates.

Barbados does lack the shallow waters needed for flats fishing, but surf-casting is an exciting contrast. Steep inshore drop-offs—up to 70 feet in places—tempt anglers who enjoy lure casting or trolling.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia, one of the best fishing in the Caribbean

St. Lucia

A number of charter companies run boats out of St. Lucia, most notably from Vigie port in Castries on the north of the island. If the fish are running for you, you might haul in mahi-mahi, barracuda, tuna, marlin, sailfish, or king mackerel (kingfish).

With the seafloor dropping to more than 1,000 feet just a mile offshore, you don’t have to go far for good fishing. Marlin and tuna are regularly caught on even a short outing.

Fish at a market in St. Lucia

Market in St. Lucia

Most sport-fishing here is catch-and-release, but you will have memorable photos. However, some might be available for a fresh dinner back on shore.

This pretty Caribbean island also has great inshore and reef fishing, with plenty of enthusiastic locals to advise you. On your line, you can expect anything from catfish or snapper to tilapia and grouper.

St. Kitts

St. Kitts, one of the best fishing in the Caribbean

St. Kitts

Strong conservation efforts have given St. Kitts a healthy population of reef fish for inshore fishing. Tarpon in particular are a popular target in the many “salt pond” lagoons around the coast.

Out at sea, deeper waters are the hiding place of species such as tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, and kingfish. You’ll find such waters—up to 400 feet deep—just half a mile offshore.

There are only a dozen or so charter boats spread between St. Kitts and its sister island of Nevis. This makes for some of the most uncrowded fishing in the Caribbean.

View of Oualie Beach, St. Kitts

Oualie Beach, St. Kitts

On Nevis, the annual Sport Fishing Tournament out of Oualie Beach attracts anglers from around the world every October. The record-breaking catches include kingfish, tuna, and wahoo.

Read: Things to Do in St. Kitts & Nevis

St. Thomas, USVI

Aerial view of Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, USVI

St. Thomas, USVI

The Virgin Islands sit at the edge of the Puerto Rico Trench, which is six feet deep. This gives these beautiful islands not just some of the best fishing in the Caribbean, but also some of the world’s best game fishing.

Boats will go up to 20 miles off St. Thomas to hunt for tuna, mahi-mahi, wahoo, and billfish. The most popular fish or their fighting powers are blue and white marlin.

Many islanders enjoy inshore fishing for the likes of barracuda, bonefish, kingfish, or tarpon. Several species are catch-and-release only, and coral reefs can snag your lines so ask for local advice to protect both your gear and the coral.

Clear waters of Brewers Bay in St. Thomas, USVI

Brewers Bay in St. Thomas, USVI

Brewers Bay is known for its flats fishing, with the hard-fighting bonefish being a popular target. It’s only ten minutes from the heart of Charlotte Amalie, the capital.


White sands of Aruba


With the local record for blue marlin hitting 1,000 pounds, it’s no surprise fishing is Aruba’s most popular sport fish. Aruba has a giant reputation for both blue and white marlin as well as sailfish.

Wahoo also make for a challenge, especially nearer the reefs. For good eating, the best target is mahi-mahi (aka dolphinfish, or dorado).

Fishing equipment in Aruba


However, Aruba’s growing reputation for deep sea fishing shouldn’t overshadow the inshore fly fishing. Here, bonefish make for an exciting if elusive catch as they can hit speeds exceeding 40 mph across the flats.

Easier to snag are juvenile barracuda, and they taste better once on your plate. They also put up quite a battle, leaping out of the water to great heights.

Read: Best Things to Do in Aruba


Waterfront of Roatan, Honduras

Roatán, Honduras

The Honduran island of Roatán sits amid the reputed nesting grounds of blue marlin. Besides this famous fighting species, anglers go after tuna, barracuda, grouper, bill fish, wahoo, and mahi-mahi.

To preserve the local reefs, bottom fishing is rare here. Most captains practice rolling with live bait, then using lures at various depths to hook barracuda, sailfish, or tuna.

As on some other islands, the arrival of lion fish has created an opening for spearfishing. While they are an easy catch for good divers who avoid their sting, there is a great satisfaction in helping remove this invasive species. They taste good, too, making lionfish a great meal choice to maintain a clear conscience.


Brown sands of a beach in Jamaica


Jamaica’s reputation for fishing is reflected in the number of prestigious annual tournaments. The Port Antonio Marlin Tournament, whose roots go back over 60 years, has a blue marlin record of nearly 600 pounds.

Marlin has long been a popular food on the island, especially when smoked over wood. However, these tournaments have helped Jamaica’s conservation efforts by moving to a tag-and-release format.

Swordfish caught in Jamaica


Besides marlin, other billfish to search for in Jamaica include sailfish and swordfish. Tuna is popular as well, particularly yellowfin and blackfin, whose differing seasons offer a good spread.

Overfishing has made inshore waters a relatively poor choice for anglers. You might be lucky enough to hook a bonefish or grouper, but a charter boat remains by far the best option.

Grand Cayman

Clear waters of a beach in Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman

Given its reputation for some of the best diving in the Caribbean, you might guess correctly that Grand Cayman has good fishing as well. In fact, with the Cayman Trench hitting 20,000 feet not far from shore, the island is among the very best places to go fishing in the Caribbean.

In these deeper waters, you’ll find good sports species such as wahoo, barracuda, tuna, and mahi-mahi. You might also hit blue marlin, although the local record runs to “only” 250 pounds.

Around the reef, you could catch species such as yellowtail, blue runner, bar jack, and possibly barracuda. Catch-and-release is the norm here, with strict enforcement, and you should also take care not to damage the reef system.


Grenada, one of the best fishing in the Caribbean


The “Spice Isle” of Grenada has excellent fishing, given its marine biodiversity. Marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, and mahi-mahi are common targets for sports fishing.

Only 80 miles from the South American mainland, Grenada has depths of 8,000 feet not far from its Atlantic-facing coast. This variety of depths and complex currents makes for dependable fishing all year round.

Fresh fish inside Grenada Fish Market

Market in Grenada

You have a good chance on any outing of hooking large yellowfin tuna, sailfish, and especially wahoo. Marlin (blue or white) or mahi-mahi are less dependable, but always good fun if about.

The calmer, reef-protected west is best for shore fishing, with the east coast having choppier waves and more seaweed. You’ll land species such as yellow jack, kingfish, snapper, and blue runner.

Read: Best Things to Do in Grenada


Beach in Tobago


Tobago does not have the same choice of charter boats as its sister island of Trinidad. However, with a record marlin of more than 1,000 pounds caught in its waters, it’s worth searching out a local operator.

Many of these boats specialize in snorkeling tours to the reef or remote beaches, with casual fishing for variety. However, several deep-sea boats target species such as marlin, sailfish, wahoo, mahi-mahi, and tuna.

Fresh fish at a market in Tobago

Market in Tobago

You’ll find these fish as close as five miles from shore, while even nearer in are bonito and king mackerel. As well as trolling, another option is bottom fishing, called “banking” locally.

Traditional fishing with seine nets is still practiced by groups of hard-working local fishermen and is fascinating to watch. It involves taking a net out on a small boat, then pulling it ashore.

Read: Things to Do in Tobago


Aerial view of Playa Mia in Cozumel


Charter boats out of the Mexican island of Cozumel will seek out blue or white marlin, mahi-mahi, sailfish, wahoo, and barracuda. If not trolling for these popular species, they will offer bottom fishing in search of red snapper and other reef fish.

Fishing is one of the best things to do in Cozumel. The island’s northern lagoons are perfect for flats fishing. Here, fly fishing for hard-fighting bonefish is the norm.

As with any other Caribbean island, it’s best to seek local advice before fishing. Besides the risk of “catching” a snorkeler or divers, you need to check any unfamiliar fish you might hook in case it is dangerous or protected.

St. Maarten

Waterfront of Grand Case in St. Maarten

St. Maarten

Split between The Netherlands, and France, the island of St. Maarten/Saint Martin has some impressive fishing. The record for a blue marlin caught while sport fishing is almost 900 pounds.

The most common species for charter boat catches are wahoo, mahi-mahi, and tuna. You might also hook barracuda, Spanish mackerel, or kingfish.

For a more unusual experience, look for a boat that offers deep-dropping at depths up to 1,000 feet or more. You’ll need electric reels to take the hard work out of catching elusive bottom feeders such as red or queen snapper and grouper.

Fine sands of Grand Case Beach in St. Maarten

St. Maarten

Are you tempted to try your hand at fishing in the Caribbean? Then why not browse our itineraries to find the perfect Caribbean cruise for you and your loved ones?

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