If the fish gods exist, they certainly have a soft spot for Belize. The country is host to a wide variety of marine environments, all pulling together to attract game fish of all shapes and sizes to its coastline. From catching Grand Slams in the infinite flats to trolling offshore for Billfish and Tuna, Belize fishing charters have something to offer even the pickiest of sportfishermen and women. And vacation spots don’t get much better than this, either.
Belize’s fishing grounds are a sight for sore eyes, as far as most anglers are concerned. The relatively undeveloped shoreline is perfect for inshore and flats fishing—Tarpon, Bonefish, and Permit abound around the river mouths, creeks, bays, and estuaries.
Just a few miles from shore, the Belize Barrier Reef is one of the finest and most diverse examples of living coral in the world—so much so that it’s made the UNESCO World Heritage list. This is home to a thriving ecosystem presided over by predators the likes of Barracuda, Black Grouper, Snappers, and Wahoo—all prime sportfishing targets.
Beyond the offshore edge of the reef, the seafloor drops off from depths of 600 ft to 2000 ft in a matter of miles, bringing Marlin, Mahi Mahi, and Tuna within reach of a day’s fishing trip.
Belize fishing hotspots
While the fishing is good across the country, there are a few prime locations that attract anglers and holiday makers alike. Here’s our rundown:
Light tackle and fly
anglers come to Ambergris Caye to test themselves against its prolific schools of Bonefish, and Tarpon, as well as Permit, Jack Crevalle, and Barracuda. Belize fishing guides pride themselves on the speed at which they get on with the job at hand, and those in San Pedro
and the rest of Ambergris Caye are no exception. 15 minutes from leaving the dock, and you can either be fishing the tidal flats or trolling the bluewater.
Get there: Ferries run from Belize City several times a day. The journey lasts between 75-90 minutes and tickets cost roughly $20 one-way. There are also regular flights to San Pedro Airport from the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport near Belize City. The flight lasts approximately 20 minutes.
Charter a fishing boat: Reef and flats fishing trips start at $250–350 for a half day trip, extending to $400–$500 for a full day. Offshore fishing ranges from $400–$600 for a half day and $550–$900 for a full day, depending on the quality of the boat and experience of the crew.
The starting point for most Belize vacations, Belize City
has its fair share of fishing opportunities, too. The highlight of fishing in Belize City is the huge Tarpon that cruise the flats in front of the Belize River, and there’s excellent Snook and Tarpon fishing upstream in the Belize and Sibun Rivers.
World-class offshore fishing is accessible from here, too. The Turneffe Islands, about 20 miles east of the city, are home to some of the country's best flats and offshore fishing. Travel another 12 miles from there, and you reach the legendary Lighthouse Reef, famous for Bonefish on the flats and its huge drop off to the south. Local anglers tell stories of behemoth Wahoo from these waters, as well as King Mackerel, Amberjack, Nassau Grouper, and even Billfish.
Get there: Most resorts and charter boats in the atolls offer a pickup service from Belize city, often coming in at an extra cost. Be sure to check this with your guide before the trip.
Charter a fishing boat: Most charter operators starting from Belize City offer multiple day trips, which can be in the range of roughly $1000 per day, all-inclusive.
Towards the south of Belize, Placenia
offer some of the best deep sea fishing
in the country. And while the ride to the offshore fishing grounds is slightly further than it is in the north, it's more than worth the additional travel time. Inshore, southern Belize is known for its healthy Permit population, with local Permit and Tarpon being among the largest caught in the country. Combine this with schools of Bonefish in the flats, and this could be one of the best places to catch a Grand Slam in Belize.
Fishing guides in Placenia and Hopkins are especially proud of how close they are to Glover’s Reef and the offshore pinnacles. Glover’s Reef is a partially submerged atoll that lies around 30 miles from Hopkins and is also accessible from Placenia on a full day trip. Having been a marine preserve for over 25 years, its rich ecosystem attracts Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and a variety of Sharks. Meanwhile, the dropoff at the outer barrier reef wall is a proven Blue Marlin hotspot. The inner reefs are just as eager to please, offering up a rich selection of Mutton, Cubera, and Yellowtail Snappers, Groupers, Mackerels, Bonito, and much more.
Get there: Placenia is a three hour drive from Belize City by car or bus. By plane, it’s 40 minutes from Belize City.
Charter a fishing boat: Inshore and reef fishing trips range from $250–$350 for half a day, and $450–$550 for a full 8 hours. Offshore trips are in the range of $600–$900 for a half day, which may take you up to 25 miles out to the reefs, while full day trips may travel up to 40 miles and cost $1000–$1500.
Know before you go
Many Belize fishing charters include fishing licenses as part of the package; if they don’t, you will need to purchase one from Belize’s Coastal Zone Management Authority (CZMA).
Fishing with scuba gear is prohibited, and catch and release is mandatory for Tarpon, Bonefish, and Permit.
Belize was the first country in the world to ban all bottom trawling, a destructive commercial fishing technique that involves dragging nets along the bottom of the seafloor. This allows the reef—and the sportfishing around it—to flourish.
The world-famous flats fishing in Belize draws anglers here from across the globe. Pay the country a visit, and see for yourself how it’s not just the flats, but also the reef and deep sea fishing, that make people want to stay.