May 26, 2024

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Tamarindo: The Complete Guide

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It seems that Tamarindo, a resort town in the province of Guanacaste, has been designed with the soul in mind. But the thing is, you only get to realize it as you wander along its streets, touch the golden sands that line the Pacific Ocean, or by embarking on a saltwater angling adventure. In a way, fishing in Tamarindo cures the soul.

Fishing tourism in Tamarindo has been popular at least since the 1980s, although it’s still not the most famous angling destination in Costa Rica. But we think its intimate marina sets the town apart from other bustling ports along the Pacific Coast. It’s charming, somehow familiar, and offers personalized attention and easy access to some seriously bountiful waters.

If you’re thinking about exploring Costa Rica’s Pacific coast and want to avoid the crowds, this guide is for you. You’ll learn about which species lurk in the local waters, as well as how, when, and where to catch them. Let’s dive right in.

What can I catch while fishing in Tamarindo?

The Pacific Ocean offers endless possibilities when fishing in Tamarindo. To name each potential target you could come across here, we’d need a separate article – maybe even two!

Just a few miles from shore, you can find Billfish, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo, and other big game species. In the inshore bays, you can get your hands on anything from Roosterfish to Jacks, while the local reefs are home to Groupers and Snapper. And that’s to name just a few.


A smiling bald angler wearing sunglasses and holding a large Roosterfish aboard a fishing charter on the Pacific Ocean with the waters behind him on a sunny day
Photo taken by Longline Flamingo C.R.

If you’re working the shallow inshore waters near the cliffs and manage to hook into Roosterfish, your trip will have been a success. These gorgeous creatures are known for their spirited attitude and stunning looks, making them the perfect target for catch-and-release anglers.

Roosterfish is a popular target in Tamarindo throughout the year, but they bite best from April until September. To get their attention, gear up and head to Playa Grande or Playa Langosta, as well as the estuaries near Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge and the rocky shoreline around Isla Capitán.


Two anglers holding a Sailfish, while sitting on the side of a fishing charter out of Tamarindo on a cloudy day
Photo taken by Sport Fishing El Gato III

Costa Rica is well-known for its Billfish population, and Tamarindo is no exception. The offshore waters boast three Marlin species: Blue, Black, and Striped. The first two can reach over 1,000 pounds, with average catches ranging between 400 and 500 pounds. As for Striped Marlin, these are the smallest of the trio but will still put up a fight to remember.

The Catalina and Bat Islands, along with the waters around Roca Bruja are prime spots to look for Marlin and their cousins, Sailfish. These fearless predators are another Billfish species you can encounter in Tamarindo, especially from December to April. Marlin, on the other hand, are most abundant between September and March.

Yellowfin Tuna

A female angler in a blue baseball cap, standing on a fishing charter out of Tamarindo, while holding a large Yellowfin Tuna on a sunny day with the water behind her
Photo taken by Nosara Sea Saw Tours – Joy Toy

Reeling in mighty Yellowfin Tuna is a truly unforgettable challenge. They’re worthy opponents that bite best from May to October, with occasional catches year-round. You can come across Tuna within a few miles from the Tamarindo shoreline, as long as you’re fishing with a knowledgeable – and well-equipped – guide.

Some other good offshore spots for high-speed trolling for Yellowfin are the waters around Cabo Velas, the Tamarindo drop-off, and offshore banks. Consider heading to the Mount Mal Pais and Furuno to get your hands on a trophy catch.

Mahi Mahi

A first mate on a fishing charter in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, holds a brightly-colored Mahi Mahi aloft above his head on a sunny day with the water behind him
Photo taken by Rhino Charger Sport Fishing

A lot of locals say that Mahi Mahi is a crowd favorite. These mesmerizing creatures are pretty hard to ignore. Their fighting abilities and delicious meat make them a prized catch, too. They’re picture-perfect fish that bite best between November and April, although you can still find them throughout the year.

Focus your angling efforts on offshore structure and get ready for some trolling. “The Bat” and Catalina Islands are good spots for some Mahi Mahi action, along with other offshore reefs and underwater mounts.


A shitless man and a woman wearing sunglasses hold a dark-colored Wahoo aboard a fishing charter in Tamarindo, with the water behind them
Photo taken by Tamarindo 27′ Mako – Center Console

If you’re after a fish species that combines speed, strength, and flavor, Wahoo fishing in Tamarindo is a good idea. Some may call them simply by-catch, but a lot of anglers agree that these fish are underappreciated. Plus, they can grow to impressive sizes, ready to test your strength and determination.

The prime Wahoo season in Tamarindo spans from May to September, but you can certainly come across one or two any time of the year. The Bat and Catalina Islands, as well as the offshore banks and drop-offs are good spots to look for Wahoo – much like Mahi Mahi.

Where can I go fishing in Tamarindo?

Now that you’re at least a little bit familiar with the Tamarindo fishing menu, it’s time to talk about the fishing spots. We’ve mentioned some above, but here’s a list of the top destinations we think you should consider:

  • Playa Tamarindo. Snapper, Roosterfish, and Jacks all bite well in Playa Tamarindo. This beach offers a mix of sand and rocky outcroppings, perfect for beginner and expert surf fishermen alike.
  • Tamarindo Estuary. Inshore anglers will enjoy fishing the twisting channels of Tamarindo Estuary. Its mangroves are home to species such as Snook and Tarpon, although it’s also a great spot to truly connect with nature.
  • Isla Capitán: The famous Isla Capitán is a rocky island that draws in an array of game fish species. Its deep waters hold healthy populations of Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and Marlin among others.
  • Las Baulas National Marine Park: This is a protected marine sanctuary, where anglers can immerse themselves in nature and get their hands on prized catches, such as Snapper or Grouper.
  • Río Matapalo: This river is located just south of Tamarindo, snaking through rainforests and mangroves. Locals come here to fish for Snook, Tarpon, and other species. Even the elusive freshwater Machaca patrol the local waters here.
  • Witch’s Rock: While this spot is mostly known for its surf breaks, it’s also a hotspot for sportfishing. The area’s underwater seamounts draw various pelagics, such as Sailfish, Marlin, and Tuna.
  • Catalina Islands: Hop on board and enjoy a short boat ride from Tamarindo to these volcanic islands where you can target big game fish. Snapper, Trevally, and Amberjack are all in the cards.

When can I go fishing in Tamarindo?

We covered some of the top seasons for fishing in Tamarindo when talking about the fish themselves. So you should already know that the short answer to the question “When can I go fishing in Tamarindo?” is “Whenever you want!” There’s always something biting in this angling paradise. The only question is what species you’d like to find at the end of your fishing line.

A view across a beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, at sunset, with palm trees on the right-hand side of the image and the Pacific Ocean on the right, with the sun setting in the distance

You can kick off the year by chasing mighty Marlin and Sailfish from January all the way until March. Roosterfish and Mahi Mahi also bite well during this period. Consider exploring the calm waters around Tamarindo Bay and the Bat Islands.

As spring comes, Yellowfin Tuna make their grand entrance. From April until June, the offshore waters, especially the Catalina Islands, are the place to be if you’re after these powerful fighters. And those who wish to stay closer to shore can target Snappers and Groupers.

The Tamarindo fishing season reaches its peak from July through September. Wahoo enters the scene, with offshore fishing as hot as ever. Sailfish, Marlin, and Tuna actively biting, and a lot of anglers concentrate their efforts on the Rincón de la Vieja area.

As the year winds down, Mahi Mahi becomes the main priority for locals and visitors alike. October through December is a great time to explore the beaches around Playa Grande and Playa Langosta to land Roosterfish and Snapper, too.

How to Go Fishing in Tamarindo

While picking your target and spot may be tricky, at least you know that something is biting whenever you visit. But what about how you can get your hands on exactly what you want? It’s time to talk about the favored fishing methods in Tamarindo.

Whatever fishing method and technique you’d like to try out, it’s always a good idea to book a trip with a local charter. Most Tamarindo captains have been mastering these waters for years, sometimes even decades. A trip with a knowledgeable captain is always a rewarding experience, no matter if you’re a seasoned veteran or a complete novice.

Deep Sea Fishing

An angler sitting in a fighting chair on the deck of a sportfishing boat, struggling to reel in a fish off the side of the boat in Costa Rica
Photo taken by Sea Breeze Fishing & Adventures

Of course, for a deep sea fishing adventure in Tamarindo you’ll need a charter operator with a boat, along with gear, and a helpful crew. And once you’ve reached the spot where the fish are, you’ll be able to try your hand at a few different tactics.

You can go bottom fishing for Snappers, Amberjack, and Groupers. In some cases, you can even try deep dropping for some Groupers and Swordfish, which is essentially bottom fishing but in bigger depths using electric rods and reels.

For other species, your main technique will be trolling. Depending on which fish you’re after, you can try slow or fast trolling using multiple lines at the same time to increase your chances. There’s also deep sea fly fishing, which is typically reserved for more experienced anglers. This can help you get Sailfish and Tuna on board, as these creatures feed closer to the surface.

Panga Fishing

A modern, blue panga fishing boat docked in the shallow waters of Tamarindo, with a snorkeler relaxing in the water in the foreground and some green foliage in the distance
Photo taken by Guanacaste Adventure Tours

Fishing from a panga boat is a traditional approach to the art of angling in Costa Rica, and Tamarindo is no exception. Pangas are usually wooden, narrow, open boats. However, you can also come across more modern-looking pangas. These are typically made from fiberglass and powered by outboard motors while retaining the core features of the original design.

Whichever you end up fishing from, keep in mind that you’ll be staying closer to the coast. That means inshore fishing and maybe hitting the reefs. If you’re after the deep blue realm, you’ll need a much bigger and more stable vessel to withstand choppy seas.

Shore Fishing

A view along a beach in Tamarindo at sunset, with a lone angler casting a fishing line into the Pacific Ocean

If you don’t feel like fishing from a boat, you can always grab your rod and head to one of the pristine local beaches to cast your line. Tamarindo is home to a prolific inshore fishery and a beautiful coastline, so finding a cozy spot won’t be a problem.

Shore fishing and surf casting might not be as blood-tingling as a big blue chase, but it can still be rewarding. Roosterfish is a particularly popular shore fishing catch, but the list of species you can come across depends on the season.

And there’s more, you can also practice fly fishing right from shore! A lot of locals actually prefer this method, especially from February to March. Just make sure to get up and start fishing before the beaches get crowded!

Tamarindo Fishing Rules and Regulations

You’re almost good to go, but there are just a few more things we need to mention. First of all, every adult angler will need a Costa Rica fishing license. This applies whether fishing on your own or with a charter. You can get your permits online from the INCOPESCA website ahead of time, or ask your captain to sort it out for you.

Finally, you’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the local rules and regulations regarding bag and size limits. All Billfish, for example, are catch-and-release, as are Roosterfish, as we said. Check ahead of time or head out with an experienced captain who’ll make sure you’re fishing within the law.

Fishing in Tamarindo: Where the Big Fish Bite

An aerial view of Tamarindo, Costa Rica, on a clear day, with green trees and red-roofed houses giving way to the Pacific Ocean in the distance

Tamarindo is all about amazing fishing escapades. It’s just so simple to be captivated by everything the area has to offer. From the serene beauty of the inshore waters to adrenaline-fueled battles with Sailfish and Marlin, everything is possible. But don’t just take our word for it. Pack your bags, grab your fishing gear, and set out on an adventure that will forever hold a special place in your heart. Tight lines!

Have you ever been fishing in Tamarindo? What was your most prized catch? Share your Tamarindo fishing stories with us in the comments below!

The post Tamarindo Fishing: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.

By: Lisa
Title: Tamarindo Fishing: The Complete Guide
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Published Date: Tue, 18 Jul 2023 14:36:10 +0000

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