Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (DO)
If you want to know why the Dominican Republic is ranked the #2 billfishery in the world, then you must go marlin fishing in Punta Cana. The blue and white marlin bite is strong and plentiful in the offshore waters east of Punta Cana due to its geography and proximity to the Mona Passage: a 65 kilometer channel between the island of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.
As is true with most of the Dominican Republic, at Punta Cana deep water is very easy to get to; boats will have fishing lines in the water 5 minutes after leaving the dock. But proximity to the Mona Passage is what makes Punta Cana exceptional. Major currents flow through the channel, and combined with tropical trade winds, can create the conditions for rough seas. But it’s those same currents which make the passage a major thoroughfare for pelagic species of fish, migrating from one body of water to the next. In other words, Punta Cana is right next to a fish highway, with easy access to game fish such as wahoo, dolphin, tuna, and every species of Atlantic billfish. In addition to the accessibility, the Mona Passage also boasts of a unique series of banks, known to locals as “the rocks.” These underwater rocks are attractive to pelagic species because they provide reef-like shelter and food sources for bait fish— this is what Saltwater Sportsman calls “marlin country.” When the marlins are not biting there are plenty of alternatives. Deep dropping for snappers and groupers always brings a healthy catch home, and it’s hard to troll a line and not catch some dolphin. Inshore fishing in Punta Cana is mostly reef, lagoon, and beach. Although many good fishing grounds are located on private property, and inaccessible, beach and shore fishing is available in certain areas. If you are staying at a hotel it is a good idea to ask permission, some beaches and inshore areas are only open to hotel guests. Inshore fishing focuses on catching jacks, groupers, small snappers, barracudas, and needlefish. Permit are known to roam in between the reef and the beach. According to local fishing captains, a good place to fish from shore is Cap Cana channel, Cabo Engaño, and Bravero Beach, but be mindful when wading, boots are recommended. Lagoons are also popular inshore fishing spots, where you’ll find tilapia, snook, and tarpon. Laguna Limon, Laguna de Nissibon, and Laguna Cabeza de Toro are all recommended and accessible from Punta Cana. Reef fishing by kayak is another inshore option, and a great way to catch smaller grouper, snappers, wrasse, and other reef species. Punta Cana is a luxury resort area with over 50 international hotel chains, private cabanas, and condos for rent— some which have a sportfishing boat docked right in the backyard! Punta Cana airport is one of the busiest in the Caribbean region. The climate is tropical, and the rainy season is in the fall (October – November).
The Blue Marlin (Makaira nigricans) is probably the most wanted fish in the sport fishing world. The magnificent fighter usualy feeds during day time on fish, octopuses and squids. Blue Marlin is mainly caught trolling with artificial lures or with dead bait (bonito, mackerel...).
Also known as Mahi Mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)
Mahi Mahi (Dorado): November – March
Blue Marlin: July – September
White Marlin: June
Wahoo: October – December
Sailfish: October – February
Tuna: January – February
The following fish can be found year-round:
Snapper, grouper, cobia, jack, mackerel, kingfish, swordfish, tarpons, permit, bonefish, and shark.
There are 62 miles of shoreline and tons of things to do instead of fishing in Punta Cana. Humpback whales migrate to the warm tropical waters off of the North Shore from January to March, so check out the whale watching tours from Punta Cana to see these giants up close.
Watersports are very popular activities in Punta Cana. You’ll find everything from speedboat rides, sailing, discovery cruises, dolphin tours, dive tours, and snorkeling. You can also explore the reef and shallows by renting a kayak or stand up paddleboard (SUP).
Windsurfing and Kiteboarding in Punta Cana are very popular activities thanks to the steady trade winds year-round. Cabarete is a world-famous windsurfing and kiteboarding destination, so if you’ve never tried windsurfing or kiteboarding before, it’s a great place to try it out!
Golf enthusiasts will want to explore some of the Domincan Republic’s world-class golf courses. The D.R. has 26 golf courses, 11 of which are in Punta Cana!
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 offseason 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. Although technically fishing licenses are required, 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 the catch and release of billfish species.