9 Most Colorful Fishing Towns in the World
May 10, 2019 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Everything’s better with a little more color. Whether it’s a romantic retreat or an outdoor adventure, nothing makes a vacation special like a vibrant color palette and some beautiful photos to show for it. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the most colorful fishing towns in the world.

Our list covers nine spots on four continents. Every town is a little different but they all have two things in common: easy access to amazing fishing and a mix of colors which is simply out of this world. If your Instagram is looking a little thin, these are the places for you.

Willemstad, Curaçao

An aerial view of the waterfront in Willemstad, Curaçao, with colorful buildings, blue sea, and a sailboat moored at the dock.

Curaçao is famous for its aggressively-blue liqueur, but Willemstad’s buildings make the drink look boring. The capital of Curaçao is full of colorful Dutch architecture, with jolly houses fronting right onto the water. As if that wasn’t enough, you can see flamingos wading in the shallows of the white sandy beaches. It’s like a Caribbean paradise got caught in a cotton candy machine.

Things get even more extreme during the month-long Curaçao Carnival. Throughout February and the beginning of March, the town comes alive with parades, floats, music, and dance. The crowds are incredibly welcoming and the costumes are unbelievably bright. Jump in and take part or sit back with a Blue Lagoon and watch the parade. You’re in for a treat either way.

Curaçao offers even more than paint, pitchers, and pink flamingos, mind you. The seas here are a sportfisher’s dream, full of Blue Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, Dorado, and more. Snorkel around the reefs, and you’ll find Rainbow Parrotfish, Powderblue Surgeonfish, and a thousand other flashy fish. It’s worth buying an underwater camera before you visit.

Santorini, Greece

The town of Oia on Santorini, one of the most colorful fishing towns in the world, with whitewash buildings and blue domes overlooking the sea.

The Ancient Greeks had no specific word for “blue.” That seems impossible to believe when you visit Santorini. Cloudless skies, indigo seas, cobalt domes topping whitewashed walls – the whole island’s a shrine to the color! Spend a few days wandering the streets of towns like Oia or Thera, and you can’t help but fall in love with Santorini’s trademark tone.

And if blue isn’t your thing, you’ll find every color under the sun if you visit in September. The Ifestia Festival commemorates the Minoan Eruption of 1600 BC, which exploded the island into three pieces. It does so in the only way appropriate: by setting off a ton of fireworks from the center of the volcano and painting the sky with fiery red and magma gold.

The traditional blues and whites aren’t limited to the land. They also decorate the hulls of traditional fishing boats. Head to the harbor and climb aboard to haul in local specialties like Squid and Octopus. You may also catch delicious Dusky Grouper or even apex predators like Bluefin Tuna. All this with a view to die for.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

A shaded street in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tropical trees line a street of green and blue houses, with cars parked along the right of the photo.

It’s impossible to get bored in the ancient streets of San Juan. That is, as long as you don’t run out of film. The city radiates with colors every bit as intense as the tropical heat: lush greens from the trees, smoky reds and dusty yellows from the buildings. And if it all gets too much, you can escape the city and drink in the cool blues of the open ocean.

Throughout the year, festivals inject an extra dash of color into the already-vibrant San Juan. The Salsa Congress brings a whirl of red dresses. The Saint Sebastian Festival fills the streets with costumed parades. And of course, the San Juan International Billfish Tournament dots the sea with white as boats speed offshore in search of record-breaking fish.

The two main colors in San Juan’s fishing scene are Silver and Blue. The shallows of San Juan Bay are home to some of the biggest Tarpon on the planet. Just beyond that, you hit deep ocean full of monster Blue Marlin. And just for some extra flair, the city’s fresh waters hold trophy Peacock Bass which more than earn their name.

Cape Town, South Africa

Brightly-colored buildings in the Bo-Kaap District of Cape Town, South Africa. Cars are parked in the shade on the right, and a church tower is visible in the distance.

There’s nowhere on earth quite like Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap district. Buildings are painted every color imaginable. Each house competes to be the most visible in town. The Bo-Kaap’s bright colors symbolize, or at least grew from, the end of apartheid. Residents were finally free to express themselves and they did so by placing all the colors in the world right alongside each other.

Cape Town’s vibrant colors aren’t limited to one neighborhood, though. From the jolly bathing huts of Muizenberg Beach to the incredible street art all around the city, there’s always something to bring a smile to your face. And once you’re done exploring all that, just sit back, relax, and watch the sun set into the sea.

With so much going on in town, it’s only fitting that Cape Town’s game fish are just as outlandish. The city’s famous for its monster Yellowfin Tuna, which are just as impressive as the name implies. You can also fill the boat with delicious Yellowtail Amberjack and Red Roman. All that, with the meeting of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans as a dramatic backdrop.

Charleston, South Carolina

A row of pastel-colored houses in Charleston, SC, with trees on the right and a man in an orange shirt walking his dog in the distance.

Charleston’s historic old town is one of the most relaxing places in the world to explore. The city is full of little old buildings painted a variety of pastel shades. The roads are lined with mossy oaks and tall palms that bathe the sidewalks in dappled shade. Charleston may not have the most extreme color palette, but the lighting is unbeatable.

If the soft pastels and dusky sunlight don’t cut it, you’ll find a thousand different pinks and purples in the beautiful Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Visit in the fall, and you can also enjoy a range of colors in the MOJA Arts Festival. The event celebrates Charleston’s African-American and Caribbean arts scene with parades, performances, exhibitions, and more.

The Lowcountry’s waterways are much more restrained in a mix of browns and greens. Head out at sunrise, though, and the water comes alive in a blaze of gold. Fish in the shallows for Redfish and Tarpon or head offshore in search of Yellowfin Tuna and Blue Marlin. Either way, the fishing around Charleston is definitely photo-worthy.

Cinque Terre, Italy

The old town of Manarola, part of Italy's Cinque Terre and one of the most colorful fishing towns in the world. Brightly-painted buildings cling to the cliffs next to the sea, with bright green vineyards in the top left.

You can’t talk about colorful fishing towns without tipping your hat to Liguria’s Cinque Terre. This string of coastal villages regularly ranks among the most beautiful and romantic parts of the country. Big words for a place like Italy. Take one look at towns like Manarola and Riomaggiore, though, and you quickly see why it makes the cut.

The Ligurian coastline is famous for its brightly-painted buildings and stunning views. The five towns that make up the Cinque Terre are the best and brightest of them all. Picture centuries-old houses and narrow streets. Cascading vineyards and beautiful beaches. Every wall painted a pleasant pink or warm yellow. It’s a real slice of la bella vita.

Of course, no fishing village is complete without a picturesque harbor. Cinque Terre certainly has its share. Head down to the water and you’ll find small wooden boats lined up and waiting to take locals fishing. Head out on a charter in the Ligurian Sea in search of Squid, Mahi Mahi, and even Bluefin Tuna. Land a delicious feast and capture some great photos of the Italian Riviera.

St. John’s, Newfoundland

A row of traditional clapboard houses in St. John's, Newfoundland, in a variety of jolly colors. Boats are visible in the sea behind the houses, with green hills in the distance.

If you’re looking for a more rugged beauty than your average “sun, sea, and sand” destination, St. John’s is the town for you. The capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is best-known for its colorful clapboard buildings dating back to the 19th century. The waterfront is just as jolly, with fishing boats and freight ships dotting the docks red and blue.

St. John’s City Council is careful to maintain an old-fashioned feel in the town. There are no giant office blocks dominating the center. No steel-and-glass towers blocking out the sunlight. Instead, downtown St. John’s is a collection of small houses in contrasting reds, yellows, greens, and blues. You could spend the whole day strolling these streets and snapping photos.

However, the best way to see St. John’s is from the water. The ban on tall buildings means you can get a great view of the town from St. John’s Harbour. Even outside of the center, wooden houses cling to the rocky cliffs and poke out of the tree line. The fish themselves aren’t the prettiest (Cod’s tasty, but it’s no beauty queen) but the view more than makes up for it.

Cartagena, Colombia

A street of colorful old Spanish colonial buildings in Cartagena, Colombia. Green plants hang off the balconies on the right, and a church is visible in the distance.

Stretching out into the Pacific and surrounded by clear, shallow water, Cartagena would be an impressive city whatever it looked like. As it is, it’s like something out of a fairytale. It’s not the location that makes Cartagena special, though. It’s the use of color.

Amazing street art, bright colonial buildings, and invitingly-vibrant cafes all come together to make Cartagena’s beauty as intoxicating as its rum. Bells ring out from church towers topped with pink domes. Women in block color dresses sell tropical fruits in shaded squares. Waiters serve delicious-looking cocktails on rooftop bars as the sun sinks into the Pacific. It’s spectacular.

Even the wildlife has had the color cranked to the max. Parrots and toucans perch in the parks as iguanas bask in the morning heat. Outlandish fish like Mahi Mahi and Cubera Snapper break up the perfect blue and white of a day at sea. Head inland, and you’ll find Peacock Bass, Apapa, and who knows what other tropical wonders on the end of your line.

Menton, France

A view from the beach of the colorful fishing town of Menton, France. Yellow and red houses sit on a low hill by the sea, with palm trees lining the waterfront and church spires poking out up into the sky. The buildings are reflected in the calm, shallow sea in the middle of the photo.

Menton sits across the Ligurian Sea from Cinque Terre. It has a lot of things in common with its Italian counterpart: warmly-painted houses; narrow, winding streets; sandy beaches flowing into shallow water that somehow manages to be crystal clear and bright blue at the same time. It’s one yacht short of a perfume commercial.

The town awakes from its serene beauty in the annual Menton Lemon Festival. Each February, fruit is arranged into everything from castles to dragons to celebrate the citrus harvest. Towering statues show up in squares and fruity floats parade through town. The celebration brings an explosion of yellow and orange that’s wonderfully ridiculous.

If all the citrus gets to be too much for you, you can escape into the calming blue of the sea to reel in some dinner. Spend the day fighting Tuna or Mahi Mahi. Grab yourself some Squid or Octopus. Soak up the sun and take in the views along the French Riviera, then head back to town with a boatload of fish. Don’t forget to grab a lemon to drizzle over it all!

And Many More!

We would carry on, but the eye can only take so much. There are colorful fishing towns all around the world, and they’re all worth visiting. Every spot on our list will leave you with unforgettable memories and unbelievable pictures. On top of that, you’ll find some huge fish and a perfect setting to catch them in.

What’s the most colorful fishing town you ever visited? Have you been to any of the places on our list? Which one do you most want to see? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you!

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