Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (DO)
No matter what time of year you choose to visit, you’ll find it’s always the season for fishing in the Dominican Republic. It’s nothing short of a fishing paradise. Occupying the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic has a wide variety of fishing grounds, both inshore and offshore. Its offshore waters are world renown and home to an abundant variety of fish species that make fishing an exciting year-round activity.
The North Coast is known for its close proximity to deep offshore water which brings an assortment of fish that are fun for both expert and novice anglers. Mahi, red snapper, grouper, barracuda, marlin, wahoo, and yellowfin tuna are a few popular species in abundance, all a short boat ride from Puerto Plata, Samana, and Las Galeras. Some of the world’s best marlin fishing can be found farther east along the North Coast of the Dominican Republic at Punta Cana, a self-contained sport fishing mecca. Although marlin are caught regularly on the entire coast of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana’s proximity to the Mona Passage takes marlin fishing to a whole new level. Boasting global record-breaking numbers of marlin catches, Punta Cana has been ranked the #2 billfishery in the world by Billfish Report. Whether you are a seasoned billfish angler or are looking to get a taste of the marlin fishing action, Punta Cana’s resort atmosphere will put you in the mood to catch something big and feisty. While many visitors flock to Punta Cana, the entire Dominican Republic coastline has excellent access to deep water fishing grounds. Some visitors prefer the smaller villages for their local flavor and less boat traffic, so rest assured that you’ll find a variety of experiences that will make your fishing trip to the Dominican Republic unique. Along the South Coast, offshore fishing is popular out of Casa de Campo in La Romana, as well as in Bayahibe and Santo Domingo. Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), deployed by local sports fishing enthusiasts, around 15 -20 miles offshore, attract blue marlins, some white marlin, sailfish, and large dolphin. According to Marlin magazine, in this area a daytime deep-drop fishery for swordfish is coming online as well. What to expect There is no shortage of fishing charters in the Dominican Republic. Visitors can expect to find many expert guides and charter boats from the larger areas such as Punta Cana, as well as in the smaller towns and villages along the coast. Boats book up quickly during the billfish tournament season (mid-March to late July), something to keep in mind when planning your trip. Most fishing charters in the Dominican Republic will have everything you need onboard: tackle, rods, reels, refreshments, etc. Bait is usually caught offshore, and ballyhoo is in abundance.
Since fishing is year-round in the D.R., it really depends on what you want to catch.
Blue Marlin – July, August, September
White Marlin – March – June
Mahi – October - March
Wahoo – October – January
Tuna – July & August
Kingfish – July & August
Sailfish – October – March
When you are not fishing in the D.R., there is something for everybody to do: The most obvious choice is to enjoy the county’s 1,000 miles of beaches. Visit Playa Rincón tucked into the side of Samana Bay, it consistently makes the list of top beaches in the world. For tourists that enjoy local culture and history, a visit to Santo Domingo’s Ciudad Colonial, the oldest colonial city center in the New World, is a must— it is one of the few places in the Caribbean that can boast “Christopher Columbus slept here.” Play golf in paradise— local resorts such as Casa de Campo and Punta Cana offer world-class golf courses and beautiful vistas. Enjoy the natural beauty of the island by visiting one of D.R.’s national parks. Los Haitises is a jewel of ecotourism with primeval rainforest covering the coastal mountains and deep, lush valleys. Cabarete on the North Shore is a world-famous windsurfing and kiteboarding destination, so what better place to learn a new watersport? The steady trade winds year-round provide thrilling experiences for the expert and the novice alike. The most popular sport in the Dominican Republic is baseball, and it is home to 10% of Major League baseball players, including David Ortiz, Luis Pujols, and Jose Reyes. If you happen to be in D.R. during the months of October – January, you can get your off-season baseball fix by scoring tickets to one of the 50 games during the Dominican Republic Winter League season.
Fishing in the Dominican Republic is lightly regulated. Technically, fishing licenses are required. However, fishing regulations are rarely enforced, therefore it is difficult to find places that sell fishing licenses to even buy one. The one rule that is enforced is that billfish must be caught and released.