You’ll fall hook, line and sinker for these fishing
Caribbean and Latin America Fishing Paradises
by Skip Knowles
For some, paradise runs much deeper than just the occasional escape from winter to warm waters, white sands and palm trees. For anglers, the only thing greater than a trip to the tropics to hunt for glamorous fish species is a chance to live there and do it to their heart’s content. For these unique souls with saltwater running through their veins and a passion for the open seas, there is no greater thrill than seeing the sun break over the dead calm waters at dawn, or the adrenaline that comes when a tail-walking blue marlin charges baits trolled right off the transom before erupting to the sky.
Well, maybe there is one greater thrill: living where these heart-pounding moments are a daily occurrence. Sleep with the fishes? No thanks. Sleep, live and recreate near the fishes? Dream come true? It is if you’re an avid angler. And this buyers’ market is the time to make that dream happen. Now is the time to start thinking about situating your favorite custom teak lounge chair perfectly on your own patio overlooking the ocean and sunset…from your own villa, house, or marina residence in paradise.
We skipped a lot of great fishing areas in this feature because it is as much about picking areas with stupendous fishing as it is about locating places you want to live the good life. Guatemala is the best place on earth for sailfish, but there’s little there as far as coastal real estate for LLI to recommend. Zijuatanejo is tremendous, too…but you don’t want to live there unless you’re into hotels, or a surfer ready to live in a tent.
North American anglers don’t have to compromise being blessed with incredible proximity to the Central Pacific and Caribbean. Sure, Hawaii, South Africa and Australia all have huge marlin, but they do not come close to Cabo or the great Central American destinations for billfish numbers and action, where shots at five to 20 fish a day are the norm…a lot more fun than the famous “Kona boat ride.” And the Caribbean-from Belize to the Bahamas-is, hands down, the best destination for the flats fisher, an endless shimmering expanse of shallow blue water. The following are LLI editors’ top choices for places in the Caribbean, Latin and Central America to live, play, and above all, fish and enjoy the good life.
Bimini, Bahamas– This is the place that puts the casual back in “casual luxury”. Billed as “The bonefishing capitol of the World,” the flats fishing is superlative…yet it is billfish and giant tuna that put Bimini on the map. Located less than 50 miles off the Florida coast, Bimini delivers with one huge difference: The Gulf Stream, that famed gamefish superhighway, swings within a quarter mile of shore, you could backstroke to it. This is where Papa Hemingway himself pioneered methods to subdue giant tuna. From the famous Bimini Big Game Resort and Yacht Club (slips for sale) this place is steeped in sportfishing lore. The Yacht Club is being renovated with luxury accommodations, on-site scuba shops, gaming rooms, spas and shopping. The resort offers over 200 luxury vacation condos, villas and single-family homes. You probably won’t see Hemingway taking a Tommy Gun to the sharks like he did aboard the Pilar in the 1940s, but you’ll find all the big fish action your heart can take.
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico– If you haven’t been marlin fishing in Cabo, pilgrim, you haven’t been marlin fishing. But don’t take our word for it, John Wayne would have told you the same thing, 40-plus years ago, when he discovered fishing down here. Marlin fishing is never a sure thing, but when Cabo is hot there is no better place for striped marlin in the 150 to 300-pound class, and the big ones are landed here, too. On my first trip here in the mid-90s, the town started buzzing when a new record blue marlin was caught weighing in at over 1,100 pounds, a fish so big a dinner-sized tuna fell from its mouth as it was hung upside down! Throw in the climate, the best golf in Latin America, and one of the world’s most vast arrays of luxury real estate, and you have what may just be the ultimate keeper combo. Although you may be paying over a $1,000 per square foot for luxury homes the quality of the product and the quality of the communities and amenity offerings makes this Latin paradise tops on our list for luxury real estate with mind blowing fishing.
Cap Cana, Dominican Republic – With some of the most pristine beaches, golf and luxury real estate opportunities found anywhere in the world, the great fishing out of Cap Cana is more of a bonus. And, what a bonus it is. Great blue water action runs year-round here, with solid fishing for white and blue marlin, tuna, sailfish, dorado, and speedy wahoo. The DR hosts international billfish tournaments each year, including ESPN’s Billfish Xtreme Tournament. World records swim these waters, in fact, the 50-pound test world record was set by an 850 lb. blue marlin. When it comes to luxury real estate in the Caribbean, Cap Cana offers those with discriminating taste the best anywhere, at a price. Cap Cana offers a huge variety of real estate choices, whether it’s fairway homesites with ocean views along a Jack Nicklaus Signature course or luxury condos at the Fishing Lodge. There’s even a five-star boutique hotel overlooking a lively plaza and the marina. As a massive luxury development Cap Cana is as good as it gets in the Caribbean.
Los Suenos, Costa Rica– This Central Costa Rican resort is among the most famous in the world for extraordinary billfish action. It’s also a luxury resort with the kind of amenities expected from a luxury 1,100-acre waterfront community including an enormous marina (300 slips for vessels up to 180 feet in length and a fuel dock with a full-time staff) and a five-star Marriott. With a vast array of real estate products from luxury villas to custom homesites with spectacular views Los Suenos has over 500 luxury residences and challenging 18-hole golf course to-boot. Los Suenos has set the bar for a luxury resort community and marina. It’s Costa Rica at its finest. This place has it all.
Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica– Like most good fishing areas, there is always something happening on this stunning peninsula off the Northwest Coast of Costa Rica. Giant schools of huge cubera snapper swirl around the Catalina Islands just offshore, and the tuna and sailfish action is world-class and easily accessed from the new marina at Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo. Massive roosterfish are routinely caught here, and these bruisers will call you out on whether you’ve been hitting the gym. While not always on-par with Cabo or Los Suenos, Peninsula Papagayo has some of the sexiest Costa Rica real estate available. Combined with the marina, lots of amazing view golf, and the ultimate in well-amenitized residences, along with direct flights from Houston, Atlanta, Miami and LA, it’s a tough one to beat as a top pick.
Pedasi, Panama– From the Pearl Islands’ Sailfish to the giant black marlin of famous Tropic Star Lodge and the Zane Grey Reef, and westward for hundreds of miles to Coiba Island and Hannibal Bank south of David, Panama is pure piscatorial paradise. Pedasi, the quaint little town in the middle of the country’s Pacific Coast, is a ground zero for anglers. On Panama’s famed Tuna Coast, the deep blue water runs very close to shore, a stomping ground for gamefish off the Azuero Peninsula that teems with tuna, marlin, wahoo, and giant snapper. There are dozens of luxury private villas in Pedasi, a town frequented by celebs looking to escape.
Placencia, Stann Creek District, Belize– The Stann Creek District of Central Belize between Hopkins and Placencia has everything the saltwater angler and sun seeker can hope for. While Belize is renowned for Mayan ruins, rain forests, incredible diving, vacationing, island hopping, and general tropical paradise stuff, for anglers it has things that just can’t be found elsewhere: permit, tarpon and bonefish numbers that are beyond compare…all within casting distance of real estate that is supremely affordable. Look at developments in Placencia for sure, The Peninsula Club a new 60-acre marina project will change the level of luxury and landscape in this sleepy fishing village. Also in Placencia you’ll find Coco Plum featuring both beachfront homesites and villas. For Lodging stay at the Chabil Mar Villas the class act in Placencia along with Coppola’s Turtle Inn while hunting down your dream coastal residence.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico– The dark blue Pacific waters surrounding the incredible homes and luxury vacation real estate offerings of Puerto Vallarta are underrated as world class fishing destinations…probably because there are so many other things to do in this gorgeous part of Mexico. But, without a doubt, there are more shapes, sizes, price ranges and levels of luxury in PV accompanied by expansive views that are more prevalent here than more so than any other on our list. The marlin fishing is steady-to-good, especially with the new catch-and-release ethic and giant bull dorado in the 50-plus pound range are common, along with tuna, roosterfish and other hard-fighting exotics.
Puerto Rico– A solid reputation for thrilling big game fishing (lots of world records) and a booming luxury resort community industry make Puerto Rico much more than a stopover to other Caribbean destinations. In July 2002, Captain Jose de Campos and his son released four blue marlin on a half-day charter, fishing barely offshore…three of them over 400 pounds. Fly casters enjoy backcountry action for snook and tarpon. Bahia Beach Resort and Golf Club St. Regis offers luxury amenities such as Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf on the ocean. Oscar de la Hoya bought a huge home site in the St. Regis Residences in September.
No matter where you decide to park your sandals, any of these extraordinary locations will fill an angler’s heart with joy when thoughts of returning to their own private abode on the ocean crosses their mind like a warm sea breeze.
Source: Luxury Living International