Spearfishing in Costa Rica: All You Need to Know

Spearfishing in Costa Rica

Standard angling is great, but getting below the surface, entering the fish world, and getting up close and personal with marine life is something else.

For those with fearless spirit (and good health), spearfishing experience is the ultimate adventure, especially when done in exotic locations.

If you are thinking about your next travel, think about spearfishing in Costa Rica. It is a paradise where water is full of life, fish species from small to record breaking size are waiting to be caught. Anyone from beginners to pros can enjoy there, whether you are going with your friends or becoming a part of a local guided tour.

Of course, safety is the number one priority, so don’t do it alone and do thorough research about local species, weather patterns, currents, and possible dangers.

Before you put on your suit and fins and get a spear, familiarize yourself with local fishing rules and regulations to avoid problems with the law.

To know everything that makes a great fishing trip, read the following chapters!



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Is Spearfishing Legal in Costa Rica?

Before we get deeper into specifics in Costa Rica, let`s define what is spearfishing. It is a fishing method where you are using sharp and pointed objects such as spears to impale the fish under water. It can be done with or without scuba gear, but keep in mind that spearfishing with scuba is illegal in most of the world. Spears are basically slingshots with different mechanisms, depending on a type.

This form of fishing is very popular; however, it is strictly regulated and you must obey all rules and regulations that determine what is allowed/forbidden. Is spearfishing legal depends not only on a specific country, but area too. Some parts of the sea are protected, and any fishing activity is forbidden.

The same applies to Costa Rica. Spearfishing there is legal if you have a valid license. There are protected marine areas as well as protected species that must be avoided. Due to the fact that it is such a popular location, all info for tourists is available online o various websites.

Spearfishing in Costa Rica - Legal

Do you Need a License for Spearfishing in Costa Rica?

Do you need a license for spearfishing is a frequent question, and the answer is YES, not just in Costa Rica, but basically anywhere.

In some places, you can spearfish with the same license regular anglers use, while in other places you will need a special one.

Bag limit, size limit, closed season and closed areas, as well as forbidden species apply to this license type too.

When it comes to gear, it is also regulated. There are different types of spearfishing and sometimes the spear type is also regulated by law.

In Costa Rica, spearos can choose between three types of licenses:

• Annual license
• Monthly license
• Weekly license

The first one is valid for 365 days from the day of purchase. As a tourist, you probably won’t need this one, but if you are fortunate enough to spend a year in Costa Rica, this is the best option. I will mention the prices later.

Monthly option is a good one for long vacations, and the same rules apply. It is valid for 30 days from the day of purchase.

Weekly option is the most commonly used among tourists and that one is valid, as the name suggests, for one week.

I have to warn you, there are authorities present in Costa Rican waters, and they can ask you to show your license.

How Much is a License for Spearfishing in Costa Rica?

Spearfishing in Costa Rica is quite affordable. Not just the license, but boat rental, guided tours, and everything that goes with it. Local guides are experienced and very friendly. They know the good spots and will tell you local fishing secrets. Just make sure to book a reputable one.

When it comes to licenses, there are the prices:

• Annual - $50
• Monthly -$30
• Weekly - $15

License can be bought online, which is the easiest and the most convenient way. One person can make a purchase for several license so that you cover all the participants.

Another way to buy is directly from local fishing authorities but keep in mind, this is Costa Rica. A very relaxed place where working hours are more of a suggestion, rather than a fact. If you don’t want to buy online, have cash with you, and good luck getting it there!

Some people will tell you that you can get away without a license, especially for a day trip. But will you really risk your vacation that costed hundreds, if not even thousands of dollars for 15 dollars? Don’t play with the law, especially in foreign countries.

What Fish Can You Spear Fish in Costa Rica?

Better question here would be: “What fish can`t you catch?”!

Costa Rica waters are full of pelagic fish and hungry predators that follow them, and you are almost guaranteed to get a catch of a lifetime. From smaller fish species to big ones further from the shore, there is everything!

These are the ones that spearos dream of, but keep in mind that these are either a task for a very experienced spearo or a beginner under supervision of a guide.

Yellowfin tuna - These big predators can be caught year-round, but the best time is summer, from June until September.

Snapper – There are various kinds of snapper that live in local waters, from small ones to really huge specimens, that can be caught year-round. Smaller ones live in shallower waters and are very good option for beginners.

Blue and Black Marlin – Blue marlin is the one that is targeted by every spearo in Costa Rica! Fall is the best time to catch one. Black marlin is the best choice for summer, and it is slightly smaller, although it also requires experience due to size, aggressiveness, and speed.

Sailfish – This adventurous catch can be found year-round; however the best spearfishing time is spring. They are quite easy to locate but very hard to catch!

Roosterfish – this extraordinary species is a real prize for all spearos in Costa Rica! Wintertime is the prime time for fishing, although you can find it throughout the year.

These species are only a small percentage of available ones, and according to your wishes and skill level, you have plenty to choose from! You can either spearfish close to shore in shallow water or further away in deep water, but for that you need some previous experience and you have to know diving technique.

Spearfishing in Costa Rica - Roosterfish

Where to Go Spearfishing in Costa Rica? [Best Locations]

There are dozens of extraordinary locations however which one you will choose depends on fish species you are trying to catch. In the previous chapter I mentioned species and seasons, and here are the top locations:

Tamarindo – This is a paradise for organized tours, active year – round! Snapper is available whenever you arrive, while other species are seasonal. That includes marlins, tunas, and sailfish.

Northern Carribien Coast – alongside the coast you can find many beautiful locations and fish species available from the beach! The reason why I am mentioning such a large area here is that any place there is great, and it is also ideal for a family or romantic vacation, as there are many other attractions nearby. From waterfalls to fishing villages, to rafting and freshwater fishing!

Manuel Antonio – From sailfish to Marlin, and all kinds of fish on the smaller side, Manuel Antonio area has it all! Warm water and nice weather will make it hard to even get out of the water!

Osa Peninsula – If you like wild and remote places, this is the one for you! And if you are targeting snapper, even better, as this is the prime location for it! Your chance of landing fish here is almost a 100%.

Los Suenos Marina – This place is excellent for both coastline spearfishing and bluewater spearfishing adventures. You can book a spearfishing guide and have the best experience ever! Best time to go is after New Year all the way to mid-March.

Spearfishing in Costa Rica - Northern Carribien Coast

What is the Best Time for Spearfishing in Costa Rica?

The best time to go depends on which species you want to catch. Some species, like snapper, are available year-round while others are seasonal.

Basically, you can go at any time, and Costa Rica is excellent for last minute travel because you will never go out of the water empty handed.

There is one thing to keep in mind before booking flight tickets and that is dry and rainy season. Rain can make fishing better, but severe rain can also block you on land and ruin the trip. These seasons are also important if you are planning to do some sightseeing, hiking, surfing, or drinking cocktail at the beach. Majority of the rain falls between May and November.

No matter when you decide to go, I would advise you to invest in good gear, and get the best spearfishing mask because it would be a shame that your experience gets ruined by cheap and bad gear.

Freshwater Spearfishing in Costa Rica - Is it Allowed?

Spearfishing is most commonly associated with saltwater, however freshwater spearfishing can be a great adventure, especially because not so many anglers practice it.

Before you decide to dive in a local lake, make sure to check the laws. In many places around the world spearfishing is allowed in saltwater but forbidden in freshwater.

Costa Rica is one of those locations where spears are not allowed in freshwater. To be more precise, it is unregulated, and can be assumed forbidden. You most definitely want to avoid any conflict with law, so better not to test your luck.

If you are freshwater fishing enthusiast, there are plenty of other fishing options for you in Costa Rica, on wild lakes and river in pristine nature. From spinning to fly fishing, you can try it all and land some beautiful fish!


If you have an opportunity to try spearfishing in Costa Rica, I will definitely advise you to do it! It is an amazing place with incredible beaches, pristine wilderness, and with sea full of tropical fish and big predators that are waiting to be caught!

Depending on a season, you can catch anything from snapper to blue marlin and yellow fin tuna. No matter where in Costa Rica you go, there is an excellent spearfishing location nearby.

And among the last tips for spearfishing, I must tell you to consider your safety, and everyone’s safety first and never underestimate nature and unknown locations! If you have no experience in spearfishing, hire a guide.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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