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Planning International Spearfishing Trips

Planning International Spearfishing Trips

Planning International Spearfishing Trips

Planning International trips has all the planning considerations that a domestic trip has with some very important additional factors. This post is designed to help navigate you through some of these considerations and give you a look from those who have planned many international trips. It is by no means a guide to all international travel. Every country is different, and laws are constantly changing all over the world. 


Transportation, Travel Visas, and Passports

In almost all cases, planning international spearfishing trips requires flying on a plane. There are some cases where you can cross somewhere by boat or even drive across borders, but that is rare. When taking a plane, you need to consider the weight and size of your luggage, which is especially challenging because our equipment tends to be long and heavy. You may have more space on a boat than you would have dealing with luggage on a plane, but you still have to deal with the limited amount of space. The same issue comes up with driving over a border. If you are traveling in a boat or a car, you definitely want to be capable of fixing your own vehicle, at least to some extent. That means keeping some basic spare parts or fluids in case there is an issue. 

Any time you are planning international spearfishing trips you need to have your passport up to date. You should additionally make sure your passport will be valid for the entirety of your trip. If you can, you should make sure your passport is valid at least six months past the end of your trip. It is a good idea to also bring extra copies of passport photos with you on your trip. In the event you lose your passport, those pictures will make it easier to get a new passport at your country’s embassy. 

Travel visas are worth looking into before you start your travels. Some countries are simple to get a visa, and you can get your tourist visa as you enter the country. Other countries are more difficult and you may need to apply for a visa in advance. Every country is different, which means you have to do some research as you plan your trip. Another thing to consider is that some countries will charge you an exit fee to leave. Authorities and immigration from some countries might put you in situations where you have to pay a bribe, so make sure you do your research and bring extra money (in a secure place) to deal with any potential hangups. 


International Guides, Charters, and Fixers

One of the biggest challenges about traveling internationally is making sure you are working with people you can trust. That goes for guides, charters, and really anyone you will be working closely with. A good guide is hard to beat on an international trip. Having the right local to help take care of everything in a foreign place can make or break a trip by making it much less stressful. No matter how much research you do, there are always considerations that fall through the cracks in your plans. The best way to solve these problems is to have someone ‘on the ground’ that knows what needs to be taken care of logistically, and legally, for your trip to go off without a hitch. That person is called a "fixer". They are more valuable in some countries compared to others. They are generally worth their weight in gold. If you have a good fixer they can take care of all the major concerns in this article. Some of the best fixers are also guides and will be in the water with you. 


Spearfishing travel has grown significantly over the past few decades. It used to be that you would have to piggy back off a sport fishing charter in other countries in order to find a boat that could put you on fish. Those charters often had a marginal understanding of spearfishing at best, and didn’t understand the logistics that went into landing a fish. The diver would be responsible for trying to explain what they were trying to accomplish while simultaneously landing their own fish. This was if you were lucky enough to have a fishing charter in the area you were trying to dive. Some places you would just have to hop on a commercial vessel and hop in the water as they were setting their lines, and get picked up hours later when they returned for their lines. Fortunately, there are charters familiar with spearfishing all over the world now. You still need to make sure the charter you are diving on is capable, but with the internet and social media being as prevalent as it is now, that research is much easier to accomplish than in the past. 


Food and Lodging

Part of your plans for international travel needs to be lodging and food. Some countries are easier to just find food along the way compared to other places, where you need to plan ahead. The more developed an area is, the more you can get away with less planning. The more remote or less developed a place is, the more you want to plan ahead. As far as lodging goes, don't cheap out on it. You want to be comfortable when you are not diving. You will be diving and working your ass off in the water. It is nice to be pampered out of the water. 


Weather and Seasons

When you are planning international spearfishing trips, you will want to identify when the fish you are targeting are most likely to be there. This is obviously more important for migratory species rather than reef fish. The other consideration comes down to legal seasons and regulations, which are very important to follow. No one wants to go to prison, but going to prison in a foreign country will probably be worse than going in the US (unless you're in Sweden). It can be difficult to navigate the weather and seasons of a foreign country. That is once again where a quality fixer makes a big difference. 


Visibility and Temperature

Another challenging aspect to plan for is visibility and water temperature. A good local guide will again definitely help you plan this out a bit. It can also be a challenge to identify the right equipment to bring. Some places will have freezing cold water and disturbingly hot air temperatures, so you have to try and balance the two to keep from overheating on the surface, and freezing as you dive down. 

Visibility is difficult to plan for. There are increased resources that help identify algae blooms from satellites, which can help you understand seasonal trends and make long term plans, but every day is different and your best bet is to go off local recommendations on when is best to plan your trip. Diving in mucky conditions is definitely challenging, but it comes with the territory in some parts of the world. 


Legality of Spearfishing

We have mentioned it before, but we will continue to bring it up. Every country has its own sets of laws regarding spearfishing. Some places consider it an extension of fishing, and hold you to the same standards of fishermen. Other places have limitations on certain species, or methods of take. The Bahamas limits divers to using a pole spear or Hawaiian sling while freediving. Belize requires you to dive with a local guide in order to spearfish. It is critical that you do your research in any new country you plan to spearfish in before you simply wade in off the beach and start shooting fish. Like we said before, you don’t want to end up in jail, especially in a foreign country. 


Packaging and Transporting Fish Internationally 

One of the biggest challenges with a big international trip is the question of how to get your fish back with you. Most dive trips tend to be in remote locations, which means the question is how to get ice and keep fish cold. Some people just donate the meat of the fish to the local village they happen to diving in or to a local charity. If you are determined to get it home, you can try and find a company that will ship it, or you have to plan by bringing a quality soft cooler to ship it home as luggage.
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