Some would say that Aruba is a well-kept fishing secret. It doesn’t receive the same hype that the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands do, but we’re here to change that. Not only will an Aruba fishing trip have you going after massive Billfish surprisingly close to shore, but the inshore action will pique the interest of any fly angler too.
What’s more, Aruba is the definition of “island paradise.” You’ll have the opportunity to hook into some of the world’s most sought-after fish in a picture-perfect setting. Blink and you’ll miss it. This tiny paradise, nestled in the southern Caribbean Sea, is just 20 miles long and 5 miles wide. But boy does it leave an impression.
White sandy beaches, colorful homes, luxurious hotels, and turquoise blue waters meet the eye everywhere you look. And while it may be all peace and quiet on shore, the action on the water is startling. Whether you’re looking for a fierce battle with a large pelagic fish, or a display of skill in the shallow flats – Aruba’s got it.
What fish can I catch in Aruba?
The rich waters surrounding Aruba make fishing here an unforgettable experience. You can expect to hook into trophies both inshore and offshore. The list below only scratches the surface of what you can catch here, but we had to play favorites. So without further ado…
Marlin and Sailfish
As the biggest draw for visiting anglers, Billfish are likely to be your main targets on deep sea trips. First off, strong currents and rocky bottoms create perfect habitats for Blue Marlin. The search for your very own “grander” will surely be an adventure, especially if you take into account that the largest Blue Marlin caught on record weighed a whopping 1000 pounds.
Although a year-round target, your best chance to hook these fish and their White cousins is in the fall. Your pursuit of Blue and White Marlin will typically take place on the northeastern side of the island. The depth of the water here plummets to 1,000 feet just 3 feet from shore. You won’t have to travel far before the action starts heating up!
If you’re after a “Caribbean Grand Slam,” you’ll certainly want to add Sailfish to your target list. You’ll fish for these majestic creatures on the south side of the island. The waters here are shallower, and the productive grounds are around 5–15 miles from shore. This is where Aruba’s small size is an advantage. You can explore both Marlin and Sailfish habitats in a day’s work!
Wahoo and Mahi Mahi
If you ask the locals about their favorite fish, these two will top the list. Let’s start with Wahoo. This creature prefers tropical waters, making Aruba the perfect place to cast a line. You won’t have to go too far from shore before you set your sights on one, either. Wahoo tend to congregate on the reefs, though you will find some further out in bluewater as well.
If you’re after even more delicious table fare, set your sights on Mahi Mahi. This colorful fish can be caught year-round, primarily on the west side of the island. It rarely strays from its food sources, so pay attention to any floating object and weeds – there’s a strong chance they’re teeming with baitfish. Best of all? Local restaurants will happily prepare your catch for you once you’re back on shore.
Moving inshore, we’ll kick it off with the fish that eludes anglers across the Caribbean. Bonefish is hard to spot and even harder to catch – making it a favorite among fly anglers. It’s also lightning fast, hitting speeds of 40 miles per hour as it races across the flats. Bonefishing, and fly fishing in general, is best done between March–October.
Why? Mainly because it’s less windy. The wind can make casting difficult, but with enough line and experience your day can be very fulfilling. Unless you plan on fishing with a guide, be sure to bring all of your fly fishing gear with you. There are no tackle shops that cater to this fishing technique on the island so you’ll need to come prepared.
On those days you just can’t get a Bonefish to bite, you might have more luck with Barracuda. Juveniles, which are the better eating fish, are found in inshore waters around the island. As you move further offshore, you’ll come across larger specimens – measuring over 3 feet in length.
Barracuda will seriously test your strength and put on a great show while they’re at it. Expect these fish to leap out of the water and reach heights two or three times their length. Using wire and medium weight rod is recommended – these fish have seriously sharp teeth that can bite through almost anything. Best months to fish? December through March.
The fish highlighted above are just some of the species you can get your hands on during an Aruba fishing trip. But there’s so much more! In your pursuit of Bonefish and Barracuda in the flats, expect to come across Tarpon, Jack Crevalle, and Snook.
While you’re deep sea fishing for Marlin, you could also hook into Blackfin and Yellowfin Tuna, as well as Albacore. And in the spaces in between – namely the lively reefs – you can bottom fish for a variety of Grouper, Snapper, and Triggerfish. Keep an eye out for Bigeye Scad. These fish are a local favorite and very delicious!
How to Fish in Aruba
Next on the agenda is deciding how to go about your Aruba fishing adventure. In most cases, you’ll want to hop aboard a vessel and head out into open waters. But that’s not the only way to fish here. Below, we highlight a few more ways to cast a line in Aruba.
Charter Boat Fishing
If you came to the island to deep sea fish, hop aboard a charter boat. Like we mentioned earlier, the waters get very deep very close to shore. This diminishes the need for powerful sportfishing vessels, but you will find those on the island too. The majority of charters include specialty gear, bait, and even snacks and refreshments to make your time on board enjoyable.
What’s more, you’ll have a knowledgeable local captain along for the ride. Aruba has a long tradition of fishing and for many, it’s a source of livelihood. These captains know all the secret honey holes and will ensure you maximize your time on the water.
If you’re fishing the flats, you’ll get all of these perks, just aboard a different kind of vessel. Seek out a flats boat or skiff in these cases to avoid spooking the fish.
Party Boat Fishing
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly alternative, give party boat fishing in Aruba a try. Most likely, you’ll head into nearshore waters to do a little bottom fishing. This could see you come back to shore with Snapper, Grouper, and Triggerfish. Island life is all about having fun and you’re more than likely to make a few new friends aboard a party boat.
Since your captain will split their time between you and everybody else on board, knowing the basics will help you make the most of your trip. Skills like baiting your own hook and proper casting will go a long way.
Fishing from Shore
Lastly, if you haven’t got your sea legs yet, fishing from the shore is just fine. Beach fishing in Aruba is particularly great. Not only can you take a dip in the warm waters between catches, but you’ll have the chance to hook into some great fish. Many of the beaches are partially reef beaches, meaning Snook, Bonefish, and Barracuda are all on offer.
If you’re a more experienced angler, do as the locals do. Balloon fishing from the beach requires more skill, but could have you going home with Snapper and Grouper. You’ll be responsible for your own gear when fishing from the beach so it’s best to bring yours with you from home. Aruba is small, so don’t count on a huge selection of tackle for sale or rent.
Where to Fish in Aruba
You’d think it would be easy to narrow down the best fishing spots on a tiny island. Not in Aruba! The next few locations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Aruban angling. The reality is, the waters are so productive here that most anywhere you decide to cast a line is likely to be fruitful. Nonetheless, here are our top picks.
- Malmok Beach: Located on the northern tip of the island, Malmok is partially a reef beach. Stay ashore and you can cast for the likes of Barracuda, Snook, and Bonefish. This is also a great spot for snorkeling enthusiasts.
- Renaissance Marina: Just a short drive or walk from the capital, Oranjestad, Renaissance Marina is located among some pretty luxurious hotels. It’s also home to plenty of fishing charters and a great spot to head out from for a deep sea fishing trip.
- Manchebo Beach: Thanks to its location on the southwestern side of the island, Manchebo Beach is sheltered from the strong winds that can make fishing in Aruba difficult. Head offshore and you’ll be hooking into Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Kingfish before you know it.
- Noord: Following Oranjestad, Noord is the second-largest town on the island. It’s windier than the southwestern coast, but it’s also an excellent spot to go after Blue and White Marlin, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna.
- Spanish Lagoon: The Spanish Lagoon borders the southernmost tip of Parke Nacional Arikok. Fly anglers won’t want to miss out on the chance to cast for Tarpon, Bonefish, and Barracuda here. Hop on a flats boat or kayak to make the most of it.
Anything else I need to know?
Before you start booking a flight and packing your tackle, there are a few more things to take into consideration. The first being fishing licenses. Luckily, these aren’t complicated in Aruba. In fact, you don’t even need one. If you’re a tourist in Aruba fishing aboard a vessel or from the shore purchasing a fishing license isn’t required.
There are a few other regulations to keep in mind, though. If you’re coming to the island in pursuit of Billfish, please know that all Billfish are catch and release only. Likewise, spearfishing is illegal across the island. Other than that, get ready to fish here year-round! The weather is always warm and there’s a fish for every season.
Aruba Fishing: Big Fishing on a Tiny Island
Few world-class fishing destinations are still a secret, but Aruba can be considered one of them. The Billfishing is spectacular and the inshore flats boast action to match – year-round. Thanks to Aruba’s southern location, it’s shielded from big storms that often hit the Caribbean and the ever-warm weather provides a welcome reprieve for visitors from colder climates.
Whether you’re arriving by plane or cruise ship, seek out a local captain and get in on the action. Or, cast a line from shore and see if you come out with a delicious dinner. Get ready to embrace the friendless of island life and experience incredible action on the water on your next Aruba fishing trip!
Have you visited the island of Aruba? Which fishing spots are a must-visit for you? Let us know in the comments below – we love to hear from you!