Are you looking to go spearfishing while you’re on your next vacation? Read on to learn about the top 10 spearfishing destinations around the world.
Spearfishing is an ancient and powerful tradition.
People have been using spears to catch fish since the dawn of man. The oldest official record dates back 16,000 years to Cosquer Cave in France, which has paintings of harpooned seals.
There is something special about hunting techniques that were used thousands of years ago and are still used today.
The Scottish novelist John Buchan once said, “The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.”
This “charm” that Buchan talks about can be experienced tenfold by those who break outside of the ordinary box of fishing and decide to do it with a spear.
People who try the sport once often fall in love with it and their “spearo” identity becomes a part of who they are.
And the world is full of amazing spearfishing destinations.
Read on to hear our list of the top ten places you should go to experience the wonders of spearfishing.
1. The Florida Keys
Every year, grouper season starts on the first of May, drawing spearfishing enthusiasts from all around the world.
This is also the peak time to catch some mahi-mahi, aka dolphinfish, so the seas are ablaze with life.
The Keys are the perfect location for any experience level, with plenty of shallower spots to explore, or deeper areas to test your skills. Whether you want to freedive, scuba, or snorkel, there’s something for everyone in the Florida Keys.
And there’s nothing like a slice of key lime pie to celebrate a great catch.
Florida does have some rules about what you can and can’t catch, so make sure to read up before you go.
2. Bali, Indonesia
Bali is the most popular travel destination in Indonesia. With its ancient temples surrounded by clear emerald waters, you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else on earth like it.
The dogtooth tuna is a big draw, as well as sailfish, dolphinfish, Spanish mackerel, and giant trevally.
Dogtooth tuna can be as big as 250+ pounds, and giant trevally have been known to get up to 175. So taking a trip to Bali means you’ll be swimming with some monster fish in a surreal and stunning environment.
And while you’re down in the depths, you can check out some other marine life, like hawksbill turtles, giant moray eels, hammerhead sharks, and giant manta ray.
A lot of the same species of giant fish swimming in the waters of Bali can also be found in Japan. In addition to that, you’ll find Bonito, Japanese yellowtail, snapper, amberjack, horse mackerel, and a wide range of other sea life.
Japanese people are experts in fish, with their knowledge of sushi dating back hundreds of years. For being a pretty small island, Japan makes up 15% of the world’s total fish catch.
The coast of Okinawa and Zamami Island are both prime spearfishing locations.
Spearfishing and freediving have a rich history in Japan. In fact, there is a well-known tradition of women divers, known as Ama. These women have been freediving for abalone, lobster, and sea urchins since the 1700’s.
Despite threats to the environment from overfishing, Ama are still at it today.
Another place with deep traditional and cultural ties to spearfishing is on the islands of Hawaii.
If you’ve ever heard of the Hawaiian style sling spear, or pole spear, then you probably have an idea of what avid spearos Hawaiians are.
Traditionally, Lawai’a were the most respected spearfishers in the community, and they would pass down their skills to the next generation of Lawai’a.
But spearfishing is definitely still alive and well today. There are no shortage of ono, mahi-mahi, ahi, billfish, and barracuda swimming in the Hawaiian seas, which is why the restaurants in Hawaii serve such amazing seafood.
Although scuba spearfishing isn’t allowed in the western islands Hawaii, there are still an almost infinite list of great spots to discover. After all, there are eight different islands that make up Hawaii, so you have plenty to choose from.
5. San Diego, California
The Pacific halibut that live all along the coast of California are a spearfisher’s dream. As the biggest flatfish in the world, they can become your own personal Moby Dick.
In 2014, a spearfisher caught a Pacific halibut that weighed 482 pounds. (And no, that wasn’t a typo – it was 482 pounds. That’s two Brett Favres, plus some.)
You can pretty much find these monsters up and down the entire coast, but if you have to pick just one spot, San Diego is known for being a fisherman’s paradise.
For such a big payoff you might have to put in a little extra effort though. Pacific halibut are known for putting up a really aggressive fight when caught, so you might want to bring a friend with you on this particular trip.
You’ll also find a ton of other fish in the Golden State, including halibut, white and striped sea bass, red snapper, sheephead, yellowtail, barracuda, and Bonita.
6. North Carolina
In terms of famous spearfishing destinations, North Carolina doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
In its depths, you are likely to find 10-pound lobsters and 20-pound hogfish. In fact, spearfishing master Cameron Kirkconnell held the world record for finding a 21-pound hogfish off the North Carolina shores.
There are also plenty of amberjack, African pompeno, and cobia to be found.
The Suloide is a shipwrecked freighter 15 miles off the coast, and it makes a great anchor spot if you’re going the scuba route. But whatever kind of spearfishing you want to do, North Carolina has plenty of great options.
7. Cape Verde, Africa
With two more islands in its archipelago than even Hawaii, Cape Verde is a dream destination for spearfishing.
You’ve got reef fish all year round; you’ve got wahoo, marlin, Cubera snappers, yellowfin tuna, sailfish, Almaco jacks…
The list just goes on and on.
But it’s really the wahoo that have the biggest draw to spearfishers. These impressive fish can swim up to 60 mph, making them one of the fastest predators in the sea.
So if you’re really looking to challenge yourself, the wahoo in Cape Verde are calling your name.
8. Krabi Province, Thailand
One of the most remote spearfishing spots on earth can be found on the desert islands off the western coast of Thailand.
The Krabi Province is another location that you can’t really find anywhere else on the planet – with mangrove forests, rocky limestone cliffs, and more than 100 islands dotting the coast.
Among all this stunning natural wonder you’ll be able to find plenty of travelly, queen fish, golden snappers, milkfish, mangrove jacks, grouper, and a wide array of other exotic fish.
This is a great trip for beginner spearos who want to do some leisurely spearfishing during the day and then camp out on a quiet Thai island under the stars.
9. Block Island, Rhode Island
People don’t automatically think of New England when talking about the best spearfishing destinations, but they definitely should.
This area has a rich tradition of spearfishing, and the culture is still thriving today. Block Island is the epitome of New England’s love for creatures of the deep.
Located about 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island is most famous for its abundance of striped sea bass, also known as the Atlantic sea bass. These guys are the state fish of Rhode Island, as well as Maryland and South Carolina.
In addition to striped sea bass, you’ll be able to find some black sea bass, bluefish, scup, triggerfish and fluke.
10. Ascension Island
Last but certainly not least (as many spearos say that it’s the single best fishing destination on earth) is Ascension Island.
This amazing and remote island is located just south of the Equator, halfway-ish between Brazil and Africa. It’s part of the British Island of Saint Helena.
April to October is giant yellow tuna season, and the seas are just teeming with these huge fish. March to April is sailfish season and February to April is Marlin season. So planning a trip to Ascension Island in April is your best bet at catching as many prizewinners as possible.
You’re not going to believe the number of fish surrounding you in the waters of Ascension Island.
The World Is Filled with Amazing Spearfishing Destinations
If none of these ten places are located anywhere near you, and you’re not going to have the money for a trip anytime soon, don’t despair.
There are great spearfishing spots in pretty much every country in the world, and most states in the US. Obviously for landlocked states that’s going to mean freshwater spearfishing. Regardless, that feeling when you snag a catch is an exhilarating one no matter where you are.
Just make sure to do your research to find out what type of equipment is and isn’t allowed in your state, and what type of fish are fair game.
If you’ve never tried spearfishing before, but it’s something you’re interested in, there’s no time like the present.
We’ve got a great beginner’s guide for spearfishing to get you started on your journey. So check it out!
Before you know it, you might be calling yourself a spearo too.
Here are a few of my top recommendations, I found super useful when spearfishing: