Chasing Game Fish in the South Pacific

Fishing, Fishing Travel

A Change of Seas-ons

Sapo Chiripa Sportfishing Kona Hawaii Marlin

Garry and I are excited to announce our latest adventure in game fishing! We’ve bought a sport fishing charter business on the Big Island of Hawaii in Kona, Chiripa Sportfishing, Inc. and the M/V Sapo.

After 3 years of Covid lockdowns in New Zealand, we were itching to get offshore again, but were skeptical about our chances of revisiting Vanuatu by boat. We were wary that Pacific Island governments, including our own, could rapidly rescind entry into and out of foreign countries, leaving us stuck on our boat, especially concerning if we were banished offshore during cyclone season. We decided to give Vanuatu a miss this year, and instead decided to try our luck fishing in Costa Rica. We booked an open-ended ticket for the next three months to explore the fishing of Central America.

Originally, we went scouting for a winter home that would allow us to continue fishing year round in calm waters. The fishing reports of Costa Rica were positive, boats were available for sale and the cost of living was reasonable, when compared to New Zealand. However, after only two weeks of exploring CR, we realized the hype was just that – hyped by tourism and real estate marketing crowds. While the fishing was indeed phenomenal, (we caught 22 Blue Marlin on one two-day trip to the FADs), the actual living part was going to be hard. Spanish was not our native language, the roads were atrocious, costs were comparable to the U.S, so not cheap but services were spotty, and comforts of life such as stores, hospitals, movie theaters were just not available in locations where the fishing was actually good. Local regulations were not favorable for foreigners running businesses so a charter business would be a nightmare. A couple of agents were very upfront and told us the skinny about business in CR. Razor wire security and armed guards on private property didn’t instill a sense of safety either. And we got very tired of rip-off artists always on the scam. We decided to look elsewhere for our second home.

We had previously toyed with the idea of Kona but had dismissed it due to cost of living issues. However, after looking at the inflated Costa Rica costs, we decided Kona was worth exploring again. On the upside, Kona was only a 10 hour flight from Auckland, as opposed to the 36 hour trek to CR. Also, it made a good half-way point between our families in New Zealand and San Diego. The blue marlin fishing is legendary and in calm water to boot. We hopped on a plane and went to work. It was only a couple of weeks before we sign the dotted line on a 3 bedroom house, and a couple of days later, we inked the deal on Chiripa Sportfishing and Sapo.

Every where we went, people kept telling us what a “fishy” boat Sapo was. In fact, she’s released over 300 blue marlin in the past few years from Kona’s waters. Her previous Captain, Chris Choy, has placed in the Billfish Foundation Top Pacific Captain for most tag and release blue marlin 3 out of the past 4 years.

Sapo Chiripa Sportfishing Kona, Hawaii Big Island

Chris had already accepted a new position on another boat prior to our purchase, but referred us to Captain Greg Hopkins as a possible candidate. Greg is a very experience Kona Captain, who has a particular interest in Rybovich boats. Greg agreed to sign on with Chiripa Sportfishing and run the charter business for us year round. We will continue to fish aboard November Rain in New Zealand’s summer months, then move to Kona for the winter months.

You can learn more about Sapo and Chiripa Sportfishing at