The Top Five Charter Fishing Destinations

charter fishing, cabo
Credit: Lisa Andres (CC BY 2.0)

The sea can be cruel, giving and withholding great favors—so says the old man in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. Deep-sea fishing has come a long way since Hemingway’s day, with fiberglass and graphite rods, sonar and GPS now all part of the modern tackle box…The gear doesn’t it make it less rewarding though (and the big one you land doesn’t have to become an existential metaphor either). A day of angling on a charter boat can offer both relaxation and a sporting challenge, not to mention a chance to commune with nature and gain a distinct perspective on some of the world’s most beautiful places.


It’s hardly worth enumerating Alaska’s natural treasures or its abundance of outdoor activities. Anyone planning a trip to the 49th state already knows they’re going to spend time soaking in some serious natural beauty. And while fly fishing’s reputation is well burnished, what’s less well known is that Alaska is also considered one of the top spots in the U.S. for saltwater fishing. Some of the most popular charters ply the waters surrounding Kenai and Glacier Bay National Parks, home to rich fisheries full of Pacific salmon, halibut, lingcod and rockfish. The views are spectacular too and, if you’re lucky, they might take in everything from black bears and bald eagles to puffins, sea otters and even humpback whales.


With its ancient cities and towns, craggy coastline, rustic interior and uniquely diverse cuisine, Sicily offers what some consider a raw, undiluted expression of Italian culture. It also happens to be an angler’s dream. Considered some of the best anywhere, Sicily’s ocean fisheries abound in tuna from spring to fall, swordfish in the summer and grouper, amberjack and bream year-round. Families can enjoy a lazy day of trawling in the azure waters of the Ionian Sea off the popular port town of Taormina. Or for a more serious excursion, book a multiday charter through the Egadi archipelago on the island’s west coast.

Costa Rica

With its impeccable reputation as an eco-travel destination, it’s no surprise that Costa Rica’s sport fishing industry helped pioneer catch-and-release. Striving to preserve the region’s rich fisheries, charter boat captains here were among the first to promote the practice. Oh yes, and the fishing’s spectacular too. Extensive Caribbean and Pacific coastlines offer anglers incredible marine diversity and a plethora of charter options. Flamingo, Tamarindo and Quepos are among the most popular spots on the Pacific coast, where depending on the time of year, tuna, sailfish, marlin, roosterfish and snook around found. On the Caribbean side, the waters off Limon and Cahuita in the south and Tortugeuro in the north are home to sailfish, marlin, mackerel, wahoo and dorado.

Cabo San Lucas

As notorious for its riotous nightlife as its photogenic beauty, Cabo would be a world-class destination even if it didn’t have world-class sport fishing. Happily, for anglers, it does. Poised at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo and its surrounding waters mark the confluence of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, one of the most biodiverse seas on earth. Steep seamounts rising up from the depths provide shelter for the smaller sea creatures that in turn attract the large predators sought by anglers. Blue and black marlin, crevalle jack, rooster fish, sail fish and more abound, and Baja’s waters have produced more than their fair share of record breakers. Overfishing has been a problem, but conservation efforts, including the establishment of a National Marine Park around the Cabo Pulmo reef, have helped. To that end, most reputable charters promote catch-and-release practices to preserve the sport for future generations.

Cape Town

Situated at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, with Table Mountain rearing up at its center, South Africa’s most cosmopolitan city blends urban charm and unsurpassed natural beauty. It’s also a prime destination for saltwater angling. Coastal upwelling pushes nutrient-rich cold water to the surface of the ocean, attracting plankton and setting off a feeding frenzy that goes all the way up the food chain to marlins, tuna and other big predators. Although there are periods of upwelling year round, it peaks in summer, which in the Southern Hemisphere runs from December to March. The upwelling also attracts seabirds like terns and cormorants, and the waters around the peninsula are home to seals, dolphins and whales.