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 possibly enlighten you to some things you may have forgotten to consider. It is by no means an all inclusive guide to all international travel. Every country is different, and laws are constantly changing all over the world.
Transportation, Travel Visas, and Passports
In mast cases planning international spearfishing trips requires flying on a plane. That makes up the majority of international travel spearfishing trips. There are some cases where you can cross somewhere by boat or even drive across certain boarders. With a plane you need to consider the weight and size of your luggage. It is a reality of international travel with spearfishing equipment. Our equipment tends to be long and heavy. On a boat your main concern is space and organization. You may have more space 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 defiantly 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, and you can get your tourist visa as you enter the country. Other countries are more difficult and you may need to apply in advance. Every country is different. Another thing to consider is that some countries will charge you an exit fee to leave a given country.
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 be on an international trip. Having the right local to help take care of everything in that foreign country can make or break a trip. 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 on the hook 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 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 is much easier to accomplish than in the past.
Food and Lodging
Part of your plans for international travel defiantly need 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. Something to consider on dive trips. 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. Here is a blog post going over weather considerations and other things for targeting fish species. This is obviously more important for migratory species rather than reef fish. The other consideration comes down to legal seasons, which are more important in some places compared to others. It should be reiterated that no-one should want to go to prison, but going to prison in a foreign country can only be worse. 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 can defiantly help you plan this out a bit. It can defiantly 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 is increased resources that help identify algae blooms from satellites, which can help develop trends for making long term plans, but every day is different and you can just try to go off local recommendations on when is best to plan your trip. Diving in mucky conditions is defiantly 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 remote and tropical locations. The challenge tends to be getting ice and keeping fish cold. From there you have to consider how to get it home. Some people just donate it 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 like luggage.