Gordon Krantz with his Yellowtail

Gordon Krantz with his Yellowtail, March 2009

Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo has already proven itself a world class fishing destination…

We were ranked the No. 2 fishing destination in the world by the noted Saltwater Sportsman Magazine. But, how do we compare in affordability to other world class fishing destinations? With the current world economic situation, getting the most bang for your buck has to be a top priority. You need to be able to experience fishing which is matched in only a couple of places in the world, yet not have to rob a bank to do it.

And, it is not all about fishing. How about the wife and kids? If the location you chose for great fishing doesn’t have many amenities, are they getting a vacation too? I believe you are about to find out how much of a bargain we really are.

Several times I have had clients tell me, “just the tip for the crew in other locations, is more than the charter for an entire boat here.”

One way to compare the cost of fishing here is by how much you are expected to pay for a tip and compare that to other destinations. Our crews here in Zihuatanejo are fine with a 10% tip, and 15% is great when they have a good day on the water. With the rate of a small four person cruiser at 350 dollars, a 15% tip is still less than 55 dollars. Several times I have had clients tell me “just the tip for the crew in other locations, is more than the charter for an entire boat here.”

Mike Buckley is a retired captain from Ocean City, Maryland, “The White Marlin Capital of the World.” He has moved to Zihuatanejo and owns the Huntress, which is one of only a few true twin engine super pangas here.

This is what Mike told me, and I really believe it says it all:

[At home] …boats were charging 1500 to 3000 dollars per day for a trip to the 100 fathom line about 60 miles offshore.  That did not include any tip for the crew which was expected to be 15 to 20% of the trip.  The runs in and out are about two and a half hours each way and make for a twelve hour trip length.  Some boats were adding a fuel surcharge last summer.  Granted the boats are bigger, faster and newer than our local fleet but for the price, you can fly down here and fish two or three days with a better chance of hooking a billfish than at home.  I catch more billfish in a week here than I usually get all season there.  The cheapest boat there books for 450 dollars for a half day trip and only targets flounder and rockfish. And they never leave the back bay.

Just think about Mike’s statement about flying down here and having a better chance of getting a billfish. Assuming the hotel prices are similar, two people to fly down here will cost about 1,400 dollars and the charter is about 1,200 dollars for a small cruiser for three days of billfish fishing (including a 15% tip to the crew). The total would be around 2,600 dollars, or 1,300 dollars each. In The White Marlin Capital, with no airfare, just three days of fishing will cost (with a 15% tip) would be over 5,000 dollars or almost 2,600 each. And this would just be the smaller blue water boat option. Pretty incredible.

Here are some comparisons to other destinations. All prices are in U.S. dollars:


Location Hotel – on the beach Super 


7 to 8 hours

29-31’ cruiser 

7 to 8 hours

Live bait Taxi – around town Airfare from LAX Airfare from Houston Infrastructure Amenities – Family Destination
Ixtapa Zihuat. 160 225 350 5.00/ 


4.50 2.50 662 478 Excellent
Kona, HI 180 n/a 700 cyo 6.00 745 1,003 Excellent
Cabo San Lucas 200 270 500 2 .00/ 3.00 


7.00 529 598 Fair – but expensive
Iztapa, Guatemala AI n/a 1,300 cyo n/a 506 475 Very little
Costa Rica AI 300 1,050 cyo n/a 1,681 1,889 Very little
Cancun, MX 200 450 525 cyo 4.00-6.00 327 428 Fair – but expensive
Key West, FL 180 n/a 600 cyo 9.00 328 481 Excellent
Huatulco, MX 160 250 800 cyo 1.00-3.00 Fair


CYO– Catch your own bait (during the charter’s fishing day)

AI – All Inclusive

Author’s note: All above prices reflect an average of prices when the research was done in May of 2009. Actual prices may vary, but percentage differences probably will not. Nor was any consideration given to special promotions or group charters, which would obviously lower the researched prices. Prices were compared by using only the months of the high season for each location.

The facts explain it all. No matter if you are just a couple of guys wanting world class hard core fishing, or a day on the water with your family, Zihuatanejo is the No. 1 destination in the world for a bargain fishing location.