The US has some of the world’s best fishing. Marlin, Tarpon, Bass – America’s got it all. With all these amazing species on your doorstep, you have to wonder why anyone fishes abroad. However, some places are well worth traveling to. We took a look through our data to find the most popular foreign fishing spots in the world.
The top fishing vacations all have a lot in common: sun, sea, sand, and super-sized sport fish. Many of the towns on our list are household names, but there are a few spots that might surprise you. One thing’s for sure: Go to any one of these places and you’re in for a fishing trip that you’ll never forget!
If you’re looking for white sands, warm seas, and chilled, island vibes, Barbados is about as close as it comes to paradise. The country is well known for its warm welcome and delicious food and drinks. It’s also one of the safest countries in the Caribbean, letting you really relax and drink it all in – and we’re not just talking about the cocktails.
Don’t get too relaxed, because you’ve got the fight of your life ahead of you. Head offshore and you’ll find Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, and maybe even Spearfish. Barbados’ signature species is Wahoo, which you can reliably catch even on a half day trip. They’re a staple part of Bayan food and are known locally as “Kingfish,” in case you’re wondering why King Mackerel is so tasty all of a sudden.
Rather spend the day in the water than on it? Who can blame you! Spearfishing is very popular here (just look at the flag) and there are several specialists based out of Bridgetown. Just be sure to take off your camo once you get back to shore because it’s actually illegal to wear it on the street in Barbados.
You might be thinking, “Does Puerto Rico count as abroad?” We’ll leave that debate for the comments. You need a plane and a passport to get there, so it makes it onto the list – especially considering the huge number of fishing trips Americans took there last year. And who can blame them? San Juan is awesome!
San Juan is best known for its colorful buildings and impressive colonial architecture. Or is it the stunning beaches and gin clear seas? No, wait, it’s the great nightlife and world-famous music scene. In fact, the city has all this and more. But for us, the biggest reason to visit is hiding in the shallow waters that surround the city: Tarpon.
Both the San Jose Lagoon and the San Juan Bay are home to Silver Kings worthy of the throne. You can catch Tarpon well over 100 pounds just a stone’s throw from the busy streets of downtown San Juan. The deep sea bite is just as good, with Blue and White Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, and much, much more. Did we mention you can also catch three species of Bass in the local lakes? Seriously, time is the only limit to what San Juan has to offer.
Aruba’s capital city has plenty of surprises up her sleeve. Even after you get over the gaudy Dutch architecture, you’ll be surprised to find pilsner beer and fried cheese alongside Caribbean staples like fried plantains and rum. Oranjestad is a town with some real heart and plenty of character, though – enough to tempt tourists back year after year.
In local Papiamento, Oranjestad is known simply as “Playa.” Take a stroll down to the sea and you won’t need three guesses to known why. The local beaches are classic postcard material, with turquoise water and clean sand. You could spend days lounging, swimming, and snorkeling without ever getting bored.
And if you ever do, there’s plenty of action to keep you busy. The shallows are home to Bonefish, Snook, and baby Tarpon. Head a little farther, and you’ll find Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and Yellowfin Tuna, quickly followed by Blue and White Marlin. The hardest part will be choosing what to fish for.
George Town is all about big fun in shallow water. From cuddling stingrays to riding on swimming horses, the local wildlife offers some truly unique experiences. You’ve also got sea turtles, dolphins, and an endless array of colorful reef fish to swim with. You can see why Grand Cayman is one of the most popular diving spots on the planet.
Snorkeling and scuba diving aren’t the only ways to get up-close-and-personal with the Caymans Islands’ sea life, though. Climb aboard a charter boat, and you can be fishing Marlin-deep waters in minutes. Otherwise, stay in the shallows for a genuine chance of an Inshore Grand Slam. Tarpon, Bonefish, Permit, and Snook all thrive in these crystal clear waters.
George Town isn’t the biggest city in the Caribbean, but it has plenty going on to give you a break from the beach. The town is famous for its tax-free shopping, so splash out on something special to remember your trip by. Otherwise, enjoy an unforgettable beachside meal or a delicious cocktail. The signature drink is a “mudslide,” which is much tastier than it sounds.
You may have noticed a theme in America’s most popular foreign fishing spots. The seas have to be impossibly blue and surreally clear. The beaches need to be pure white sand with plenty of palm trees. And if you can’t get a good dose of rum in a colorful cocktail, you’d better forget it. The Bahamas tick these boxes so hard they break the pen in the process.
Nassau is more than just a beach with a town attached, though. The nation’s capital is a lively city of a quarter of a million people, with a rich history and a real love of upbeat music. Sure, you can lounge on beaches or swim with pigs until the cows come home, but save some time for the sights and sounds of the town itself.
Just don’t get too distracted – the surrounding waters are full of sea monsters just waiting for a hook to drift their way. The shallow flats are a mecca for fly fishers, with Permit, Tarpon, Bonefish, more Bonefish, and yes, even more Bonefish. The bluewater bite is just as hot, with Sailfish, Blue Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and even Swordfish.
Punta Cana has long been a byword for big Billfish. Whether you’re after the mammoth Blue Marlin of summer or the incredible numbers of winter White Marlin, you’re never far from apex predators in the Dominican Republic’s capital city. As well as Marlin, you also have Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Yellowfin Tuna – all your big game favorites.
It’s not all offshore action, mind you. Punta Cana’s bluewater bite is certainly the most famous, but the shallows are also full of fish. Snook and Tarpon both spend much of the year here, as do Barracuda and a variety of tasty reef fish.
When you’ve finally got your fill of fishing, enjoy everything else the town has to offer. As well as the desert island essentials, you’ll find stunning scenery in places like Hoyo Azul and Scape Park. Stop off at the ChocoMuseo for a free and fascinating look into everyone’s favorite treat, then relax with a Mamajuana at a beachside bar.
You may have been wondering where Mexico was on our list of the most popular foreign fishing spots. We haven’t forgotten about it. If anything, we’re saving the best for last. Puerto Vallarta has something for everyone, from remote beaches accessible only by boat to pumping clubs and beaches packed with all-night parties. The best part? It offers just as much variety when you get out on the water.
Puerto Vallarta has a full menu of sportfishing options, neatly packaged into different fishing spots. Spend the day in the local waters for Cubera Snapper, Jacks, and Roosterfish. Head south around the bay to catch them while also exploring the dramatic rock formations of Los Arcos. Otherwise, you can go offshore.
The main spots are Islas Marietas, El Morro, La Corbeteña, and El Banco. The farther you go, the bigger the fish will be. They range from Mahi Mahi and Sailfish to Yellowfin Tuna, Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin, and huge Hammerhead Sharks. Every spot has its signature species, so you can pretty much pick your fish based on where you go.
Costa Rica is a true nirvana for deep sea anglers. You can catch Billfish here more reliably than you could ever imagine. And the country’s strong emphasis on fish tagging and safe release means that people will be able to enjoy the action for years to come.
Costa Rica is awesome, sure, but why Jaco specifically? Well, it has the biggest and most well-maintained sportfishing fleet in the country, for one. Marina Los Sueños sits just around the head of the bay with hundreds of boats just waiting to take you offshore. Los Sueños has all the makings of a luxury vacation: spas, golf courses, fine dining – the works.
After a more down-to-earth Costa Rican experience? Jaco itself is a quiet town where beautiful beach meets dense jungle. Trips often launch right off the beach, with small dinghies ferrying groups out to charter boats moored in the bay. It’s a world away from the 5-star glamor of Los Sueños, but it has a friendly vibe with that classic “pura vida” feeling that makes Costa Rica special.
Cancun needs no introduction as an American vacation spot. It’s one of the most popular resort towns and probably the busiest Spring Break destination on earth. Resort after resort line the beach in Cancun’s “Zona Hotelera” and the city’s nightlife is nothing short of legendary. As if that wasn’t enough, the town is also surrounded by an all-star cast of game fish.
Marlin, Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Tuna – they’re all here and they’re ready for a fight. You may have to go 20 miles out to find them, but it’s well worth it when the reels start screaming. And if you don’t fancy the long boat ride offshore, you can find just as much action inshore.
Cancun’s shallow seas are mainly known for their surfers and jet-skiers, but there’s a lot more going on under the surface. Hit the right spot, and you’ll find Permit, Snook, Bonefish, Tarpon, Jack Crevalle, Barracuda, and more. Finding them isn’t hard, either, with plenty of eager charter captains waiting to take you out.
No surprises which town came out on top. Cabo San Lucas is about as good as it gets for deep sea sportfishing. The town is surrounded by a royal flush of big game species, from Blue, Black, and Striped Marlin to Sailfish, Swordfish, and Yellowfin Tuna. Turn your attention inshore, and you’ll find Roosterfish, Jack Crevalle, Snook, Sierra Mackerel – in fact, it would be easier just to list the fish you can’t catch here!
With so many awesome hookups, it should come as no surprise that Cabo is also home to incredible fishing tournaments. The most famous of them, dubbed “the World’s Most Expensive Fishing Tournament,” is the Bisbee’s Black and Blue. If you like the idea of a hundred boats racing offshore in search of monster Marlin, opening morning is a sight you can’t miss.
Fishing isn’t the only thing that puts Cabo at the top of America’s travel itinerary. People have been coming here for decades, and dozens of resorts have sprung up to cater to the crowds. You also have mile after mile of beaches with great surf and soft sands. Then there are the golf courses, bustling bars, and awe-inspiring Baja scenery if you take a trip out of town. Cabo San Lucas more than earns its place at the top of the list.
These are the most popular foreign fishing spots, but are they the best? What’s your favorite angling destination? Which of these have you been to in the past? Let us know in the comments below, we love to hear your stories.