The clear, blue waters of the Caribbean are just one of the reasons this territory is a fishing paradise. Wonderful catches can be made in this part of the world, and anglers, no matter how experienced, can embark on fishing adventures with a sense of peace that will linger throughout.
The Caribbean’s reputation as a great fishing destination is hardly surprising considering it is also an amazing dive destination. The area boasts thriving marine life and vibrant, self-sustaining underwater ecosystems with over 7,000 islands, islets, and cays, and 13 island nations including The Bahamas, Cuba, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Turks & Caicos, Barbados, Belize, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, and Haiti. There are many incredible destinations in the Caribbean to choose from and so much to know ahead of your fishing vacation in this region.
If you’re heading to the Caribbean to enjoy deep-sea fishing, fly fishing, reef fishing, or any other type of fishing under the sun, here’s what you should know before you go.
In this article on the Sandals blog:
Deep-sea fishing in the Caribbean
Deep-sea fishing in The Bahamas – The Abacos, Bimini, and Exuma
Deep-sea fishing in Jamaica
Deep-sea fishing in Saint Lucia
Deep-sea fishing in Grenada
Deep-sea fishing in Barbados
The Caribbean is a well-known and loved fishing destination for more reasons than one. The first of these is that the waters are so calm and clear that it gives anglers a bit of an advantage. There’s also a wide range of fish you can catch in the Caribbean, whether you plan on fishing inshore or heading further out to sea.
Some of the species you can expect to come across while fishing in the Caribbean include tarpon, wahoo (kingfish), tuna, dorado (mahi-mahi), snook, barracuda, marlin, swordfish, sailfish, snapper, grouper, bonito, mackerel, jacks, and many other types of fish. What you are able to catch in the Caribbean will largely depend on the time of year and what’s in season.
The Caribbean is known for great inshore and reef fishing. Many anglers come to this region just to enjoy fishing near the reefs and mangroves that the Caribbean is known for. Calm waters and hard sand flats, like those found in The Bahamas, are perfect for inshore fishing, particularly bonefishing!
The warm, clear waters of the Caribbean create the perfect setting for fly fishing (the preferred method for catching bonefish). Bonefish are a type of silvery fish commonly found in shallow and inshore waters that can grow up to 14 pounds. Their scales are naturally reflective allowing them to camouflage with the sand and elude fishers.
The islands of The Bahamas are especially great for bonefishing! If you go fishing in this territory, you’ll have plenty of island locations available to try to make a good catch. Bonefish can be caught all year round, but you’ll often see significantly larger bonefish in the colder months. Plus, when the weather is warmer, bonefish tend to move into cooler, deeper waters, which can make them more difficult to catch in the summertime. So, if you want to catch a real trophy, the best time to bonefish in the Caribbean is between the months of November and February.
Tarpon is among the largest of the shallow-water Caribbean fish. They are, on average, four feet long and can weigh up to 60 pounds. Long and slender with a silvery hue, these fish are a sought-after game fish in many parts of the world. The best time to catch tarpon in the Caribbean is May through mid-November. Beaches with some kind of artificial light tend to attract baitfish, and, as a result, tarpon. So, fishers who are interested in this catch should look out for that type of setting. Fishing for tarpon is bound to be most successful at night, especially between the hours of 9 pm and 11 pm.
The Caribbean region, with its many vibrant coral reefs, is home to large numbers of permit. The region is also considered one of the best places in the world to fish for this species. The permit is a greyish, highly reflective fish that grows to about 48 inches long, often weighing as much as 60 pounds. The best time to fish for permit is the same as the best time to catch tarpon — May through to mid-November annually. Permit can be more difficult to catch than tarpon, and thus create a welcome challenge for seasoned anglers.
Barracuda is a common sighting in the Caribbean, whether you’re on a dive or fishing adventure. These types of fish can be a little scary to look at, but they make quite the prize catch. Long and skinny with a blue-grey color, barracuda are usually around 24-39 inches long. The juveniles that are commonly found inshore tend to be around 5-10 pounds, while mature barracuda can weigh 50 pounds or more if you’re lucky. The world record for Barracuda is around 85 pounds!
While fishing in the Caribbean, you’ll likely see barracuda swimming near the surface of the water around coral reefs and mangroves. Barracudas tend to be attracted to shiny objects that remind them of the silvery fish they prey on. The peak season for catching barracuda in the Caribbean is usually in the summer, with early morning or late evening being the best time for a good catch.
Snapper is popular in the Caribbean for both catching and eating! There are many varieties of this saltwater fish that you’re likely to come across while inshore fishing. These include red snapper, yellowtail snapper, black snapper, mutton snapper, schoolmaster snapper, and mangrove snapper. All types of snappers can be caught using lures, and, most often, this type of fish is found near rocks and reefs.
Inshore snapper can be around 15-20 pounds or less. Yellowtail and schoolmaster snapper are usually under 10 pounds. Seasoned fishers say the trick to catching larger snapper is “all in the bait”. Try switching up your bait to fish chunks as opposed to live shrimp (which smaller snappers like). The best time to catch snapper in the Caribbean is around dawn or dusk, but you can catch snapper throughout the day if you find the right location.
Grouper is a common catch in the Caribbean, but the fish don’t tend to grow as big as they do elsewhere. Fully mature Caribbean groupers are usually around 15-20 inches long, while in some parts of the world groupers can grow as big as 8.2 feet (Atlantic goliath grouper)! As grouper is a reef fish, you’re likely to find them near rocky structures, docks, or within reefs. There are quite a few types of groupers including the Nassau grouper, Atlantic goliath grouper, peacock grouper, yellowfin grouper, yellowmouth grouper, strawberry grouper, tiger grouper, and black grouper. If you’re fishing for grouper in the Caribbean, your chances are higher during the colder months when they tend to swim closer to shore.
A deep-sea fishing adventure requires a trip out to deeper waters, and this will require some planning if you’re in the Caribbean. Once you get everything related to your deep-sea fishing trip in order, you’ll be more than ready to challenge yourself in a search for coveted game fish like sailfish, swordfish, and marlin, all three of which can be found in the Caribbean.
With top speeds of nearly 70 mph, sailfish are among the fastest fish in the ocean. Sailfish can grow to be as long as 10 feet and weigh up to 130 pounds. It is no easy task to reel them in, especially if you hook a big one! Seasoned anglers can enjoy conquering this game fish during a deep-sea fishing adventure in the Caribbean.
Sailfish are blue and gray and have a large dorsal fin. They are easily identified by their sharp, pointed snout. Sailfish are known as pelagic fish, which means they live in the open sea, not quite at the bottom and not near the shore either.
The best time of year to catch sailfish in the Caribbean varies from island to island. If you’re determined to catch one though, you can take your chances with a deep-sea fishing experience while vacationing in this region.
Swordfish are among the most easily recognized fish thanks to their long, flat bill, large eyes, and large dorsal fin. These fish are, on average, between 60 and 200 pounds, and as such, they are highly sought after by anglers the world over. The existing world record swordfish weighed in at a whopping 1,182 pounds!
Swordfish can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour, and they thrive in varying temperatures around the world. These fish swim around mid to surface level in the ocean and spawn in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Around islands like Jamaica, the high season for swordfish tends to be from January to December.
The blue marlin is quite the giant of the seas as it can grow as long as 16 feet and weigh up to 1,800 pounds. The blue marlin (the largest type of marlin) can be caught throughout the year in the Caribbean. Marlins in general are part of the billfish family that also includes swordfish and sailfish. There are several species of marlin that can be found in the Caribbean including white marlin, which are commonly found in shallower inshore waters. The peak season for blue marlin varies among the islands, but in most places, they can be caught year-round as marlin simply love the warm waters of the Caribbean.
Did you know? The blue marlin is the national fish of The Bahamas! There’s hardly a better place to wrangle in (and release unharmed) these enormous game fish than the warm, aquamarine waters surrounding the islands of Grand Bahama and New Providence during the months of June and July.
Yellowfin tuna are often described as large, and torpedo shaped. When you see them swimming, you’ll realize straight away that the description is quite accurate. With dark blue backs and yellow bellies, yellowfin tuna can be as long as 8 feet and weigh in at 400 pounds. Blackfin tuna, on the other hand, are on the smaller end of the spectrum — so small, in fact, that they are considered the tiniest species of tuna and grow to about 39 inches long and around 46 pounds. Yellowfin tuna can be caught year-round in the Caribbean, but peak season tends to be around January and February. The blackfin tuna season varies as well throughout the islands, but chances are higher of catching this popular sport fish in the early morning or about three or so hours before sunset.
Mahi-mahi is a popular catch in the Caribbean. It is often called dolphin, which may come as a shock to those who are unfamiliar with the moniker. This fish, however, is very different from the playful mammals we know and love. Dorado, or mahi-mahi, are bright green and have a long, single dorsal fin along the length of their body. These fish thrive in warm waters and are often found in the Caribbean Sea. Mahi-mahi is usually between 2 and 5 feet in length, weighing somewhere in the region of 10 to 50 pounds. If you want to fish for mahi-mahi in the Caribbean, you can do so pretty much throughout the year, but you’re more likely to make bigger catches in the first half of the year, particularly in the Spring.
Wahoos, also known as kingfish, are long and silvery blue fish that look quite similar to barracuda. They can grow to be between 40 and 60 pounds. For especially large wahoo catches, it is a good idea for anglers to try their luck in The Bahamas, which is on record for having some of the biggest wahoo (some are over 100 pounds). Wahoos have a large mouth, razor-sharp teeth and can grow as long as 8 feet or more. As with everything else, timing is key when fishing for wahoos, and the winter months tend to draw more of these fishes to warm Caribbean islands like Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, and other islands in this general vicinity. Generally, you can fish for wahoos in the Caribbean year-round.
Insider tip: If you plan to enjoy the best fishing in the Caribbean, it will be super convenient to stay at an all-inclusive resort. You can plan your fishing excursions or charters easily through your resort, and, once you’ve landed yourself a whopper, your celebratory beers and cocktails will be included and unlimited!
Fishing is a pastime that requires passion, dedication, and patience. It also helps to have a good knowledge of the best places to go to catch the sort of fish you’re aiming for. There are many incredible fishing spots in the Caribbean, depending on your fishing method, and here are some of the best ones:
Inshore fishing is usually done within a few miles of the shore near beaches, piers, jetties, and flats. Some people choose to do inshore fishing near rocky shorelines, mangroves, and coral reefs as well. The success of Caribbean inshore fishing shows that it is simply not a requirement to fish in deeper seas if you want to have a good catch in the Caribbean.
Some popular types of inshore fishing include reef fishing, fly fishing, and bonefishing. This kind of fishing can be done throughout the year near many different islands including Antigua, Saint Lucia, Grenada, The Bahamas, and many more. One of the main benefits of inshore fishing is that you don’t have to take a boat out, so feel free to wade in or hop on a skiff to move about the shallows as you make that great catch.
The Bahamas is one of the best places in the Caribbean for inshore fishing! This tropical archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean is made up of over 700 islands including cays and islets that are perfect for making catches of all kinds. Of these islands, Andros, the Abacos, and Nassau (the capital city on the island of New Providence) are best known for great inshore fishing. While there, you’ll be able to set up your fishing tour through one of the all-inclusive resorts in The Bahamas.
Andros is the largest island of The Bahamas and about 180 miles off the coast of Florida. Andros is one of the best places to enjoy fly fishing in The Bahamas, especially bonefishing. In fact, the island is known as the ‘Bonefish Capital of the World.’ The inspiration for this tagline has to do with the fact that anglers often catch bonefish larger than 10 pounds in Andros.
The island of Andros is separated into three parts — North Andros, Mangrove Cay, and South Andros. These are all separated by bights (estuaries) where you can find islets, cays, and mangroves, all of which make inshore fishing here very conducive.
Just northeast of Andros, the Abacos are almost as popular within fishing circles. The region of the Abacos known as the Marls is especially conducive to fishing thanks to its flats and mangroves where an abundance of bonefish, tarpon, permit, and others can be reeled in during an inshore fishing expedition.
New Providence, off the eastern coast of Andros, is home to the capital city of The Bahamas, Nassau. This island is often the first one you’re introduced to when visiting the territory, especially if you’re checking in at one of the all-inclusive resorts in Nassau. If you have inshore fishing in mind, you will love the wide range of catches that can be made here, such as tarpon, permit, Nassau grouper, bonefish, barracuda, and red snapper. While fishing in Nassau, you’ll have lots of dry fishing, reef fishing, and bonefishing opportunities to choose from.
Insider tip: Fishing trips are always exciting and fun! While enjoying your fishing vacation in The Bahamas, you can get familiar with these 20 amazing things The Bahamas is known for and try some of the popular foods & drinks of The Bahamas.
Jamaica is on the southwest side of the Caribbean, near Cuba and Haiti. The island is a particularly good choice for angling if you’re looking to do some inshore fishing. There is a wide range of species that can be reeled in while inshore fishing in Jamaica including yellowtail snapper, mutton snapper, and grouper. There are also lots of fishing charters in Jamaica that cater to visitors.
If you’re looking for places to fish in Jamaica, you can start around some of the banks and cays on Jamaica’s south coast like Pedro Bank. There are also lots of mangroves, estuaries, and flats where anglers can challenge themselves to reel in the biggest catches of tarpon, barracuda, and snook. When planning the right time to go on your fishing vacation, you can read up on the best time of year to visit Jamaica.
Barbados is a small island in the eastern Caribbean Sea to the east of Saint Lucia and Grenada. As an island born of limestone and volcanic activity, there are many things that set Barbados apart, including its amazing fishing opportunities. Inshore fishing is very popular in Barbados because there are lots of great fishing locations to be found around the island.
In Barbados, most of the inshore fishing is done at depths of about 20-70 feet. This can be near reefs or just above them, and some of the fish species commonly caught while inshore fishing in Barbados includes tarpon, snapper, grouper, bonito, wahoo, Spanish mackerel, cero, barracuda, bonefish, jacks, and tuna. There are many places to go dry fishing in Barbados as well, such as on beaches, docks, and jetties along the coasts.
Insider tip: Setting up a fishing trip in Barbados can be made easy by staying at all-inclusive resorts in Barbados that take care of all the finer details, so you don’t have to.
Deep-sea fishing is incredibly popular in the Caribbean with many tour companies offering deep and sport fishing adventures to some of the best fishing spots on the islands. Some of the territories known for great deep-sea fishing include The Bahamas, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Jamaica, and Barbados.
Catches made during a deep-sea fishing excursion in the Caribbean can include tuna, marlin, wahoo, sailfish, swordfish, and so much more. The thrill of a deep-sea fishing adventure in the Caribbean is heightened because you just never quite know what you’ll catch (and how much it will weigh!). You can certainly turn the odds in your favor for catching a particular fish by setting out on a deep-sea fishing trip during peak season for that specific fish. Generally, though, here’s what you need to know about deep-sea fishing in the islands:
The Bahamas is a great vacation destination, in general. It’s loved for its many fishing opportunities, including deep-sea fishing. If you plan on fishing while in The Bahamas, select resorts that offer tours related to fishing like all-inclusive resorts in Exuma. Both fishing and non-fishing enthusiasts can enjoy this type of setting. The Bahamas is made of a multitude of islands, so if you want to go deep-sea fishing, it is a good idea to know the specifics on where to go before you get there.
For deep-sea fishing in The Bahamas, islands like Great Abaco, Bimini, and Exuma stand out as they are along major migration routes for certain fish. These islands will be the perfect place to catch big game fish including sailfish, wahoo, yellowfin tuna, mahi-mahi, marlin, and blackfin tuna. Deep-sea fishing in The Bahamas is made even better because, just off the coasts of many of these islands, there is a major drop of the seafloor (thousands of feet in some places!). This means you can stay relatively close to shore and still catch pelagic fish and other big game fish.
Ahead of planning your fishing trip to The Bahamas, discover the best time to visit the islands of The Bahamas!
Good to know: The largest recorded mahi-mahi ever caught in The Bahamas was found in Exuma. It weighed in at 88 pounds!
There are tons of amazing things to do in Jamaica, but one activity that’s not often considered is deep-sea fishing. One of the most popular areas in Jamaica for deep sea fishing is the Cayman Trench, which is a 20,000 ft deep trench on the seafloor about half a mile from Montego Bay. Deep-sea catches of all varieties are often reeled in here including wahoo, dorado, blue marlin, white marlin, mahi-mahi, sailfish, and tuna. These types of fish and many others can be caught throughout the year in Jamaica, but especially during their peak seasons. The peak season is January to April for dorado, April to August for blackfin and yellowfin tuna, and August to December for marlin.
Expert tip: Though excellent fishing is reason enough, here are five more reasons to visit Montego Bay, Jamaica. This list also includes the chance to stay at luxury all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, which offer a range of quality inclusions and lots of entertainment.
Fishing is definitely one of the top five reasons to visit Saint Lucia. This island is a stand-out fishing destination because of the amazing catches often made off its coasts and the many options for fishing charters that you can sign up for while there. As another volcanic island, Saint Lucia is in the eastern Caribbean near islands like Barbados, Grenada, and Saint Vincent. This island is particularly great for deep-sea fishing because it is surrounded by some of the deepest waters in the Caribbean.
Fishing in Saint Lucia can yield many different types of fish, including wahoo, tuna, blue marlin, mahi-mahi, sailfish, and more. The months of February through May are great for catching wahoo in Saint Lucia, while August to December is best for catching blue marlin, sailfish, and yellowfin tuna. Many species can be caught year-round and most boat charters in Saint Lucia will welcome you on board for a fishing excursion whether you’re a deep-sea fishing pro or novice.
Insider tip: Once you’ve determined the best time to visit Saint Lucia for your fishing trip, you can start planning where to stay while on the island. Helpful hint: All-inclusive resorts in Saint Lucia are a top choice for hassle-free vacations with everything in one place!
There are many things Grenada is known for. This list includes great diving (try the underwater sculpture park!), aromatic spices, and lots of opportunities for fishing of all kinds. This island is located in the eastern Caribbean Sea, southwest of Barbados and Saint Lucia. Deep-sea fishing is especially good in Grenada because there’s a huge drop-off of about 3,000 feet a short distance off the coast.
While deep-sea fishing in Grenada, some of the fish you’re likely to catch include mahi-mahi, blue marlin, white marlin, wahoo, sailfish, and yellowfish tuna. Exceptionally large catches of yellowfish tuna weighing over 100 lbs are commonly found in Grenada. There are peak seasons for some types of fish that can be caught around Grenada like blue marlin, which is easiest to catch from October to March annually. Our best time to visit Grenada post can provide more insight on the best time to plan your fishing trip to Grenada.
Insider tip: Want to do more than just fish in Grenada? If you stay at an all-inclusive resort in Grenada, you can plan your local adventure tours with the resort (most of which will include the cost of transfers to and from the various attractions!).
Barbados is loved by fishing enthusiasts for more than just its great inshore fishing. There are also plenty of opportunities to go deep-sea fishing in Barbados. Common deep-sea catches in Barbados include marlin, wahoo, sailfish, mahi-mahi, and blackfin tuna. These can be caught throughout the year, but fishing in the high season can have better results. The high season for blackfin tuna is from January to May in Barbados, while the high season for fish like sailfish and marlin is from January to April. Overall, the first half of the year tends to be good for fishing on this island, and many anglers report bigger catches around this time. Still, this can vary depending on the species of fish. To determine the right time to go to Barbados, our post on the best time to visit Barbados may be able to help!
Expert tip: The best reasons to visit this island include enjoying unlimited cocktails at the best all-inclusive resorts in Barbados! Don’t miss the opportunity to try out the traditional food & drinks of Barbados while you are there.
Whether you’re new to fishing or want to show off your well-honed skills, you’ll find tons of exciting opportunities for inshore and deep-sea fishing in the Caribbean. This remains one of the most desirable regions to go fishing thanks to its beautiful waters, diverse fish species, vibrant reefs and mangroves, quality fishing charters, and exclusive all-inclusive resorts that allow you to combine the rush of reeling in a big one with a luxurious vacation.
Although you may have fish on the brain, your trip to the Caribbean could also give you the chance to relax, and maybe even to rediscover love while you’re at it. Staying at one of the gorgeous couples-oriented Sandals Resorts will get you close to the action while offering quality inclusions that you can enjoy between fishing trips (think gourmet dining, night and day entertainment, and unlimited food and drinks - all included!). Plus, the resort makes it easy to book professional fishing excursions, and the chefs are happy to prepare your catch for you when you return! There are even several Caribbean destinations to choose from, so you’ll have the freedom to try to hook whatever you want.
One thing’s for sure: when you combine an all-inclusive vacation with a fishing trip, you really do get the best of both worlds!