Deep sea fishing and nearshore fishing in Costa Rica

Let’s start with some of the latest Costa Rica fishing news. Captain Skeet Warren, 42ft Bushwacker out of Flamingo on the North Pacific coast, released a Blue Marlin and two Sailfish, and caught three Yellowfin Tuna.

Deep sea Costa Rica fishing

The Chaser is perfect for deep sea charters

Out of Herradura Bay, Central Pacific, Captain Brent Moyer on the 58ft Chaser went 8-12 on Sailfish 21 miles out. Also out of Herradura, Captain Alex Holden, fishing on the 45ft Sportsman with Captain Mitch Pierson, released a Sailfish, and caught five Yellowfin Tuna.

In addition, the Brittany Blacksmith group that FishCostaRica booked with Captain Bobby McGuinness, 37ft Cazador, released five Sailfish, and caught six Grouper, a Snapper and a Roosterfish.

Finally, at Pez Vela Marina (Quepos), Captain Jesus Montero, 43ft Makaira, released four Sailfish, and caught five Yellowfin Tuna.

With the exception of Cazador charter, the anglers were fishing on purely offshore – or deep sea – Costa Rican sportfishing charters.

Costa Rica fishing terms like inshore, offshore, deep sea, nearshore, big game fishing and more can be confusing. So let’s compare inshore versus offshore – or deep sea – fishing. The terms ‘deep sea’ and ‘offshore’ can be used interchangeably.

The biggest difference between deep sea and inshore fishing is the depth of the water. Depending on where you fish, 200 meters and more of water is usually the border between the two. This might help you determine which best suits you when you decide to fish Costa Rica.

Costa Rica deep sea fishing for Marlin, Sailfish and Tuna

Sailfish a deep sea species

Catch Sailfish deep sea fishing in Costa Rica

Deep sea Costa Rica fishing trips take you to blue water. Or, to put it differently, to areas beyond the Continental Shelf. There is where you will find Marlin, Sailfish and Yellowfin Tuna. These are the deep sea, or offshore, gamefish that most anglers on Costa Rica sportfishing trips target. In addition, you can also find Dorado and Wahoo deep sea fishing in Costa Rica.

Anglers who come to fish Costa Rica usually associate big game species with deep sea fishing. For instance, Sailfish and Marlin are included in both the deep sea and big game fishing categories. Often, so are Yellowfin Tuna.

In Costa Rica, spend time fishing, not traveling

Costa Rica is extremely fortunate. The Continental shelf drops off comparatively near the coastline. So anglers enjoying a Costa Rica deep sea fishing charter don’t have to travel hours to reach blue water. In other words, you can spend your time big game fishing, not traveling.

Costa Rica Marlin

Marlin are a popular Costa Rican deep sea gamefish

And because you don’t have to travel that far, you don’t need a big boat to catch big game, deep sea species in Costa Rica.

A trip to blue water runs you 45-70 minutes from most Costa Rica fishing destinations. Elsewhere, deep sea fishing charters often require 12 to 72 hours’ travel time.  And you will have to travel from 40 to 130 miles off the coast. Nothing like that in Costa Rica! Not a bit.

Costa Rica deep sea fishing charters do not have to travel that far. In Costa Rica, you will seldom have to run more than 30 miles to catch Sailfish, Marlin and Tuna. For instance, out of Tamarindo on Costa Rica’s North Pacific coast, deep sea charters need only a 12-mile run to blue water.

Calm seas, few cancellations with Costa Rica deep sea charters

It is one of the reasons we recommend Tamarindo in summer to anglers asking about Costa Rican deep sea fishing charters. There, you can usually catch Sailfish, Marlin and Tuna between May and October. This is when the North Pacific fishing season peaks.

Another reason why Costa Rica deep sea fishing is so popular is that the oceans are mostly calm. With the exception of January-March in Guanacaste in the North Pacific, particularly the Flamingo and Papagayo areas, the Pacific Ocean is flat. Costa Rica sportfishing charters are rarely cancelled due to bad weather.

Costa Rica nearshore fishing yields prized species

Now for Costa Rica inshore, or nearshore fishing. Again, both ‘inshore’ and ‘nearshore’ can be used interchangeably. When you are fishing Costa Rica nearshore, you will usually be within a few miles of shore. The water will be from 30 to 200 meters deep.

And, more often than not, you will be working popular spots like beaches, rocky shorelines, jetties, humps, flats, mangroves and islands. In addition, you will probably be using light tackle.

nearshore snapper

Snapper are a prized Costa Rica nearshore fish

There are many prized gamefish that you will catch fishing Costa Rica nearshore. Among them are Roosterfish. This incredibly feisty gamefish lures anglers from around the world to fish Costa Rica.

Snapper and Grouper most popular

Snapper family species are also a big draw off the Pacific coast. There are Red Snapper, Cubera Snapper, Mullet Snapper, Rosy Snapper, Parrot Snapper and others. Anglers on Costa Rica sportfishing inshore charters also target Grouper. Both Snapper and Grouper are scrumptious dinner fare.

In addition, inshore species include Jack, Amberjack, Jack Crevalle and Travelly Jack. One can also add Mackerel, Pompano, Bonito, Skipjack and Rainbow Runner to the Costa Rica fishing panorama.

Deep sea fishing vs nearshore fishing

Here is a quick comparison of Costa Rica deep sea fishing, and Costa Rica nearshore or inshore fishing:


  • Larger sportfishing boats, most with inboard diesels.
  • Water depth of 200 meters or more, usually 12-30 miles offshore.
  • Heavy tackle, trolling equipment.
  • Greater use of radars, radio and weather technology, and sonar.
  • Seasonality and weather has more impact on fish behavior.
  • Larger species like Marlin, Sailfish and Yellowfin Tuna.
  • Sportsman oriented


  • Smaller boats and pangas, most with outboards.
  • Within a few miles of shore, in water less than 200 meters deep.
  • Light tackle, more casting and use of live and dead bait.
  • Less equipment needed, less reliant on a graph for locating fish.
  • More consistent year-round fishing through seasonal climate changes.
  • Species like Roosterfish, Snapper, Grouper, Jack, Mackerel.
  • More family friendly.

Costa Rica nearshore fishing

Rainbow Runner is a top nearshore charter boat

Is one better than the other? Is deep sea fishing in Costa Rica preferable to nearshore fishing in Costa Rica? Absolutely not. Some anglers prefer to be close to land while others love seeing 360 degrees of horizon around them.

Some anglers come to fish Costa Rica for Sailfish and Marlin. Others prefer to target Roosterfish and Snapper on their Costa Rican sport fishing charters.

And there is nothing against combining deep sea and near shore fishing on a Costa Rica sportfishing vacation. Enjoy a day or two of each. Or fish the morning offshore, and then come inshore for ‘meat’. Just make sure your Costa Rican sport fishing captain knows in advance. That will let him rig the boat to accommodate each.


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