Punta Cana is a resort town in the La Altagracia Province. This is the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. The beaches in Punta Cana face both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. One of the biggest attractions of Punta Cana is that sport fishing is very lightly regulated. Punta Cana means “Tip of the White Cane” and refers to the beautiful local cane palms decorating the landscape. There are 62 miles of coastline in this province along with a barrier reef that ranges from a few hundred years to one-fourth mile out from the beach.
Things to Know Before Fishing in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Although some say that there is no shore or beach fishing here, that is not true. Many ponds say “No Fishing” but that is done for safety concerns. There are plenty of flats and tidal ponds you can fish in and when the reef is close enough, there are some beaches where you can cast out from the shore. In between the beaches and reefs is what is called ‘washes’ where you can fish and are accessible using fly fishing gear. Many of the resorts here have private beaches from which you can fish. There are lagoons to fish in also and many contain a lot of fish.
Although most hotels will not cook the fish you catch, you can hire a private chef or rent a cabana so you can cook your fish. Some of the restaurants, for a fee, will be happy to prepare and serve your fish to you.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Fishing Regulations
You will need a fishing license here in Punta Cana but the regulation is rarely enforced. At times, it may be hard to find a place that has a license to sell you. The only enforced regulation is that Billfish must be a catch and release but all other fish are fair game.
There is some closed fishing seasons, which includes:
- March 1-June 30 — Lobster and crab
- July 1-October 31 — Conch
How to Fish in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
When you are surf fishing, just cast out to any ‘hump’ you see because there will likely be fish there. It is easy to see these humps because the water is very shallow and clear. You can increase the distance you cast if you use a reel with a good disc drag and a rod that is at least ten foot 9/10 weight. Using a fly rod in Punta Cana will give you some of the best fishing experiences in the world.
Best Times to Catch Certain Species in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
- November-March — Mahi Mahi
- October-February — Sailfish
- October-December — Wahoo
- January-February — Tuna
- July-September — Blue Marlin
- June — White Marlin
- All year — Shark, Snapper, Grouper, Cobia, Mackerel, Swordfish, Kingfish, Tarpon, Bonefish
Check out Big Marlin Punta Cana to learn more about the fishing calendar in the Dominican Republic.
Best Lures and Tackle for Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Fishing
When surf fishing in Punta Cana, use casting spoons or jigs and an eight-foot rod.
Best Bait for Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Fishing
When you are bait fishing, the number one bait to use is squid followed by shrimp and then bait-fish. If you are fishing for Snook and Tarpon, use the classic Red and White Tarpon Fly or Polar Fiber Minnows. For saltwater fishing, it is advisable to use fresh Ballyhoo.
Some of the Best Places to Fish in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
One of the best lagoons to fish in is Laguna de Limon in the Eco Park area. There are thousands of Snook, Tilapia, and some good size Tarpon you can fish for. Another good lagoon is Lagoon de Nisibon but it is a little difficult to get into. You have to access it either on horseback or walk-in but it is worth it
Sometime the beach hotel staff will let you take their kayaks out to the reef for fishing if you promise to try to bring them something back for supper. Fishing here you have the opportunity to catch some world-class Snapper, Wrasse, Grouper, and other reef species. Fishing the reef is when you can use your fly fishing experience.
For inshore fishing, also known as bottom fishing, many charters specialize in this type of fishing. On the seaside of the reef, you can catch some species of Tarpon, Grouper, Yellowtails, Barracuda, and the delicious Queen Triggerfish. This is the type of fishing made for those that like to sit with the rod and no intense screeching of the reel. With this method of fishing, you will not have to worry about getting sea-sick as there are no big waves to deal with. With inshore fishing, you can catch your baitfish, the Ballyhoo fish, before you start to fish for other fish.
You can also troll along the reef and may have a chance to catch a snapper or barracuda. The reefs, where most inshore fishing is done, you can catch parrotfish, groupers, snappers, angelfish, and more so you will always have different fish to fish for.
This is what Punta Cana is famous for. It is a natural superhighway for pelagic fish as Punta Cana is located at the junction of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. This is known as the Mona Passage. Every year, Punta Cana has been known for some very large game fish being landed here. Some of the types of fish include White and Blue Marlin, Swordfish, Sailfish, Tuna, and fast, large sharks like Mako and Blue. There is little that compares with the adrenalin rush and excitement that you can experience if you hook one of these large game fish.
Many times, when you charter a boat for deep-sea fishing, it will not take a lot of time to start trolling. You will be happy to know that you can start fishing within minutes after leaving the dock. You do not always have to take a several hour boat ride to the fishing grounds of the large game fish. Sometimes you can catch billfish less than thirty minutes from the dock.
Fishing Tournaments in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
If you are interested in entering a fishing tournament, Punta Cana hosts seven of them spanning from March to August.
- White Marlin Classic
- The Big 5
- Billfish Shoot Out
- The Cap Cana Blue Marlin
- Cabeza de Toro Billfish
- Puerto Rio Light Tackle
- Casa de Campo Blue Marlin
- Punta Cana Blue Marlin
Renting a Charter Boat in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Most of the Punta Cana charters have affordable, flexible rates, and can be accommodating if there are any special types of fishing you want to try, like Shark fishing or fly fishing if you give them enough notice. You should try to set up your charter at least six months in advance of when your vacation will happen. Each year, thousands of fishermen come to Punta Cana so many of the good charter boats are booked.
One thing to note, if you come to Punta Cana for vacation but do not book a charter for one reason or another, do not book one with people in the hotel because most of them are not professional guides. They just have a boat and want to earn some extra money. They may have a small boat, the boat may not be safe, or some may just take your money and disappear. They just want your cash and do not care if you catch fish or not. Always check the hotel before you hire them.
Most of the water around Punta Cana can be at times a little rough. The seas can sometimes run as high as six to eight feet. You should try to go out in a boat that is 32 to 42 feet long. If you feel you may get sea-sick, either take some medication before you go out or do not charter a boat. On most of the charters, if someone gets sea-sick, they have to come back in and there are no refunds. Also, make sure that the boat you charter has enough life jackets for everyone and there is first aid equipment on board. You should also make sure there are fire extinguishers.
In Punta Cana, there are many places and opportunities for fishing, whether it is just catch and release or bringing them back to cook. For those that love to fish, Punta Cana is your dream come true vacation for fishing, especially deep-sea fishing. It can be a fun vacation for the entire family.
Punta Cana is rated as having some of the best fishing in the world and every year, fishermen from around the world come here. This is one of the reasons that you need to book your vacation and charter boat well in advance of your vacation. So pack your bags and fishing gear and head to Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic for the ultimate deep sea fishing adventure of a lifetime. If the family does not care for fishing, there are many beaches to visit to enjoy the water, sun, and sand.
You might also enjoy our Ultimate Guide to Fishing in Portugal