A Full Guide To Fishing in Playas-del-Coco

Playas del Coco is the oldest fishing village in Guanacaste province, and fishing there is still worth it. It is world-renowned for being the best angling destination in Costa Rica. You can fish daily by targeting areas near the beach or booking charters for deep-sea fishing. 

When Tim and I first visited Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, we were excited to explore its fishing opportunities. Nestled on the Pacific coast, this charming beach town offers both the thrill and challenges of fishing. Offshore fishing here is exhilarating, with chances to catch big game like mahi-mahi and marlin, but it can be exhausting due to the long trips and rough seas during the rainy season​

Inshore fishing, on the other hand, is more relaxed and perfect for beginners, though the catch might not be as impressive. The dry season offers calmer waters for offshore fishing but less productive inshore conditions​.

Keep reading about our full guide and review of fishing in the Gulf of Papayago.

Key Takeaways From This Article

Playas del Coco is in the Gulf of Papagayo, the best fishing destination in Costa Rica. There are many boats and plenty of fish. I highlight a few key takeaways about fishing in Playas del Coco. 

  • There are a lot of boats in Playas del Coco since it’s a traditional fishing area. 
  • For big-game fishing, you must venture to deeper waters, such as the Gulf of Papagayo. 
  • While you can catch fish throughout the year in Costa Rica, certain species are only available during specific months. 
  • I will explain several government fishing regulations, such as catch and release. 
  • Anyone aboard a fishing vessel must have a license to avoid the Coast Guard turning them back.

Gear You Need To Fish In Playas del Coco

When Tim and I planned our fishing trip to Playas del Coco, we made sure to bring all the necessary gear to make the most of our experience. Here’s a handy table listing what we found essential for a successful fishing adventure:

GearDescriptionTips from Experience
Fishing Rods and ReelsSturdy rods and reels are suitable for both inshore and offshore fishing.Bring both heavy-duty gear for big game fish and lighter gear for inshore fishing.
Bait and LuresLive bait like sardines and artificial lures for different types of fish.Local shops like El Jobo have everything you need, and our guides provided excellent bait.
Tackle BoxFilled with hooks, lines, sinkers, and other essentials.Make sure to have a variety of sizes and types to match different fish species.
Fishing LicenseRequired for all anglers in Costa Rica.We easily obtained it online. Don’t forget to get one!
Sun ProtectionSunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect against the strong sun.Trust me, the sun can be intense, so reapply sunscreen often.
Anti-Nausea MedicationFor those prone to seasickness, especially on long offshore trips.These saved me on rough days at sea; don’t skip them if you’re prone to motion sickness.
Cooler with Snacks and DrinksTo stay hydrated and energized throughout the day.Most charters provide some refreshments, but bringing your own ensures you have your favorites.
Comfortable ClothingLightweight, quick-dry clothing and a windbreaker for cooler mornings.Layers work best; mornings can be chilly, but it warms up quickly.
CameraTo capture the unforgettable moments and stunning scenery.We took some incredible photos of our catches and the beautiful coastline.

Fishing in Playas del Coco was an incredible adventure, but preparation was key. Whether you’re aiming for the thrill of offshore fishing or the relaxed vibe of inshore angling, having the right gear makes all the difference. We found that local guides were invaluable for their expertise and for providing equipment and insights that enhanced our experience

Best Fishing Spots In Playas del Coco

While Playa del Coco might not provide the world’s best facilities, it still has a lot of fun activities. One of the largest villages in Guanacaste, Coco, offers some of the best spots to go fishing. You can use traditional commercial or sport fishing boats to catch some fish. Get some fishing supplies from El Jobo, a store on the way to Playa Ocotal.  

Coco Bay 

There are plenty of Jacks and roosters around Coco Bay for you to return empty-handed. The good thing is that you can start your fishing adventure without venturing far. Did I mention that it is affordable because you only need the boat for at least two hours? 

You will find mackerel, tuna, jacks, snapper, and other fish species. 

Gulf of Papagayo

A view from Gulf of Papagayo
A view from Gulf of Papagayo

 

You’ll have to go offshore to reach where the big game is. However, since you will spend a few hours in the deep fishing spots, it is not ideal if you get seasick. Big-game fishing requires you to start at the crack of dawn and stay until late in the evening. 

Live bait is the best way to catch big gallo in the Gulf of Papagayo. The area is also big enough to accommodate several boat charters. Marlin, roosterfish, and sailfish are the most common fish around. You might also catch the following fish:. 

  • Red snappers, cube snappers
  • Bonita 
  • Amberjack
  • Bigeye jackfish
  • Grouper
  • Marlin.  

Different fish species can thrive in the Gulf of Papagayo, which has a lot of plankton (fish food) brought in by the marine currents blowing from north to south. 

Playa Tinoco

It is one of the most secluded beaches south of Playas del Coco. Playa Tinoco has clear turquoise waters with cliffs surrounding the beach. It is only half a kilometre away from Playa del Coco. 

You can try your luck at fly fishing after finding a good spot. 

Coco Beach

If you are staying at  Playas del Coco, you can fish without getting on any boat. Playas del Coco is also known as Coco Beach. You can find a quiet spot along the 3.2 km ( 2 miles) coastline. All you need is a fishing line, hook, and bait. It was challenging for me the first time, but after a few tries, I caught a few small fish. 

My husband caught a snapper that we ate for dinner that day. 

Which Are The Most Common Fish In Playas del Coco? 

There are hundreds of fish species in the waters of Playas del Coco. You can cook most of the ones you catch apart from marlin, sailfish, and roosterfish, which are catch-and-release species. That means you only have seconds to take great pictures before releasing them into the sea. 

Types of FishDescription
RoosterfishIt’s one of the most famous fish among the Costa Rican locals.
You will find them around cliffs and inshore waters.
They jump high when you hook them.
Roosterfish will follow your bait for some time before biting.
Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish)It is better known as Dorado in Costa Rica.
They will bite almost anything, but they will be challenging to haul in due to their large size.
They are easily caught year-round, with their peak season being November to January.
Have vibrant colors ranging from deep blue to vibrant green.
SnappersThere are various snapper species, the most common being cubera, red snapper, spotted rosy snapper, and mullet.
Snappers prefer reefs and rocky structures, which provide shelter from predators.
Entice them by jiggling (live baits) or poppers.
You can catch them all year round.
JacksJack Crevalle, amberjack, African pompano, horse-eye jack, trevally jack, and Almaco jack are the most common jack species in Costa Rica.
You can use jigging, dead bait, or live bait to catch jackfish.
Mostly live inshore.
MarlinBlue marlin is the most prevalent, followed by black and striped marlin.
You can catch marlin all year-round in Costa Rica.
Mainly weigh between 400 and 500 lbs. Stripped marlin weighs 200 lbs.
The best place to find them is at offshore structures where they have protective shelters.
SailfishTrolling and live baiting are the most common ways to catch sailfish.
They are fast, powerful, and daring, and they will eat your bait.
You’ll see them traveling in packs or schools.
Yellowfin tunaA harness works better as they is pretty vigorous.
Use giant squids to attract yellowfin easily.

Fishing Ways In Playas del Coco

There are different ways to go fishing in Playas del Coco. Consider the fish you want to catch when deciding on your fishing method. Big-game fishing will require deeper waters; you might have to join a fishing charter or hire a private boat.

Panga Fishing

It is the most common way of fishing in Costa Rica since it is the traditional approach. The traditional panga boat was narrow, open, and wooden. You use a panga boat to fish only around the grounds near the Coast. 

Panga boats only accommodate a few people and are only suitable for calmer waters. You can rent the panga boats by asking around the beach. 

Shore Fishing

You only need your fishing hook, bait, and some drinks to quench your thirst. Next, find a quiet spot on the shoreline and throw in your hook. When I accompanied my husband for some shore fishing, the first fish to bite the hook was the roosterfish. 

The best time to go shore fishing is the quiet months, which are between May and November. From December to April, Playas del Coco has a lot of beachgoers, and you might not get an ideal spot to fish on the shore. Alternatively, wake up early and fish before the crowds arrive at the beach. 

If you prefer inshore fishing, you only need 20 minutes to reach the Gulf of Papagayo to catch mackerel, amberjack, snapper, and roosterfish. 

Charter Fishing

If you want to ensure that you don’t miss catching some fish, I recommend you book a charter. The only way to catch giant fish is to go offshore with an experienced charter operator. You only have to carry your items and license, as the charter provides reels, rods, baits, and refreshments. 

The captains of the charters will take you to places where the fish are plentiful and show you how to catch fish if you’re inexperienced. Most offshore fishing expeditions will take 4–8 hours. Big-game fishing requires you to book an offshore charter. 

Kayak Fishing

Get your fishing equipment from a store next to Super Luperon or Jobo on your way to Playa Ocotal. You can rent a kayak on the beach. The most famous place for renting kayaks in Playa del Coco is “Cafe de Playa.” 

Head out to Pelonas Island, 20–30 minutes away. There is a spot with a wooden cross where you’ll likely catch a lot of fish. 

Playa del Coco Fishing Calendar

The weather conditions in Costa Rica allow you to fish throughout the year. However, you can choose the best season for you depending on the type of fish you want to catch. Below is what the fishing calendar in Playas del Coco looks like.  

Playa del Coco Fishing Season
JanuaryThere’s plenty of sunshine, and you’ll likely catch Jack Crevella, Grouper, and Roosterfish.
FebruaryIt is windy and the best time to catch Mahi Mahi, Marlin, and other inshore species.
MarchBest for inshore fishing.
AprilFocus on the reefs or inshore, as it’s the peak season for Jack Crevalle and Grouper.
MayThere are plenty of Mahi-mahi and Wahoo, and the peak season for Sailfish begins.
JuneThe peak season for catching Cubera Snapper begins, plus yellowfin tuna.
JulyBest for big game fishing.
AugustInshore fishing is excellent; you’ll likely catch marlin, wahoo, and sailfish.
SeptemberIt is peak month for all types of fish, whether looking for big game or inshore fishing.
OctoberYellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, but ends the season for big game fishing, remaining nearshore and inshore.
NovemberRoosterfish, yellow tuna fish, and cubera snapper.
DecemberGrouper, Jack Crevelle, and Snapper (more inshore fishing).

What Are the Fishing Regulations in Costa Rica?

The Costa Rican government has put fishing regulations in place to help conserve marine life. Sport fishing generates foreign exchange for the country and creates jobs directly and indirectly. If you want to go fishing in any part of Costa Rica, being familiar with the following regulations is essential:. 

  • License: You don’t need a permit for onshore fishing. However, you must obtain a valid license if you charter a private vessel to do big game fishing. You can order the fishing license online from INCOPESCA. Everyone in a fishing boat will require a license, whether fishing or not.
  • Fishing areas: The government prohibits fishing in biological reserves, national parks, or national monuments. 
  • Water contamination: Do not throw garbage in the water, and avoid dropping fishing lines, six-pack rings, and other debris into the ocean. The vessel you’re using should not leak oil or fuel. After cleaning your fish, don’t leave any discards on the beach or riverbanks. 
  • Catch and release: Using hooks on billfish or bringing them overboard for photographing is illegal. Do not take the fish out of the water, as it is harmful. Also, release the fish quickly and correctly. 
  • Consumption: As a sports fisherman, only catch and keep what you need for the day. Selling fish affects the local commercial fishermen. Return the female fish if possible, as they may have eggs to lay. 

Conclusion

Fishing is one of the most enjoyable activities at Playa del Coco. You’ll have to venture into the bottomless sea for big-game fishing. We had great fun doing inshore and offshore fishing, and you will still get a good catch. 

Where did you go fishing in Playas del Coco? Please share your experience. 

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About 

Born in California, Michelle traveled extensively through the USA and Europe before moving to South Florida during the pandemic. Her career in Marketing has taken her all across the world. Her favorite country is France but she'll never turn down a beach vacation!

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