Florida Keys Lobster Season 2023 is Here: What You Need to Know
Key West’s spiny lobster season is just around the corner! In tow is mini lobster season, Key West Lobsterfest, and of course, spiny lobster popping up in dishes across the island. Don’t know where to start? Let us be your Florida Keys lobster season 2023 guide.
Florida Keys Mini Lobster Season 2023: July 26 - 27
Mini lobster season is like a pre-game to the regular lobster season that begins August 6. What is it exactly? The annual, two-day event allows recreational fishermen to catch spiny lobsters before the big commercial boats. This year, the mini lobster season falls on July 26 - 27.
Mini lobster season isn’t exactly a free-for-all. There are rules that are enforced both in and out of the water. Brush up on the Monroe County mini-season requirements to ensure you enjoy the mini lobster season and play by the rules. Better yet, take a peek at our sister hotel’s helpful FL Keys Mini Lobster Season guide.
Key West Lobsterfest 2023: Aug. 10 - 13
There’s no better way to celebrate spiny lobster season than with a lobster boil at the Key West Lobsterfest. In its 26th year, the event draws lobster lovers to Key West to partake in chowing down on one of the island’s favorite crustaceans. The biggest party of the summer features a lobster boil, lobster brunch, Duval Street beer crawl, street fair, live music, and more.
The annual lobster boil is set for Aug. 10 at the historic Porter Mansion at 429 Caroline Street. The epic seafood spread includes fresh lobster, jumbo Key West shrimp, fresh baked jalapeño cornbread, and more. There’s also the annual Duval Street Pub Crawl on Aug. 11, with bars like Schooner Wharf, Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, and Durty Harry’s participating in the fun. While the pub crawl doesn’t have anything to do with lobsters per se, the $20 participation fee is a great way to kick off festivities and benefit the Key West High School's Scholarship Fund. Plus, you’ll receive a souvenir bottle opener and lanyard, drink specials at participating bars, and an official 26th annual Lobsterfest t-shirt.
Florida Keys Lobster Season 2023: Aug. 6 - March 31, 2024
Good news for out-of-towners: lobster season runs eight glorious months of the year. So if you’re planning a trip to Key West within that time frame, chances are you’ll see fishermen offloading fresh hauls of spiny lobster along the Key West Historic Seaport. You’ll also be able to sample the tasty crustacean on your dinner plate.
Spiny lobster isn’t as sweet as its northern cousin, nor does it have claws to yield claw meat - it’s all in the tail. The spiny lobster pairs well with other ingredients, and tastes more like crab legs than Maine lobster. Keep reading for some of the best places to eat lobster in Key West.
Catching Florida Spiny Lobsters
Into the idea of catching a lobster? Before heading out on the water, be sure to always verify dates and regulations with Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC). There are useful techniques to “tickling” a lobster out of its covered area. You’ll want to have a tickle stick, net, and a ruler to make sure your lobster is the legal size. Once you’ve located a lobster (they love the crevices and caverns of our surrounding coral reefs), use the tickle stick (a thin rod around three feet long, with an angled tip) on the tail to softly guide the lobster out of its hiding spot. Once the lobster exits, they will most likely swim backwards, so be sure to have your net positioned behind them.
If you’d like extra guidance, there are charters on the island led by fishermen versed in the art of catching spiny lobsters. Want to know what to expect? See Salt Strong’s guide to catching lobster in the Florida Keys without using scuba gear.
If you can’t wait to tuck into your fresh catch, consider bringing your spiny lobster bounty to one of Key West’s restaurants with a cook-your-catch option. Stop by our concierge, they will guide you where to go!
Where to Eat Florida Spiny Lobster in Key West
If you’re in the mood for lobster, put on a bib and get crackin’. Although Maine lobster is on the menu year round, spiny lobster can only be found when they’re in season. Choose from delicious Maine lobster dishes like Lobster Benedict at Blue Heaven, Lobster Mac n’ Cheese at The Flaming Buoy Filet Company, Overstuffed Lobster Rolls at DJ’s Clam Shack and ones with fresh key lime juice at The Lobster Shack, and a Lobster Salad Sandwich at The Blind Pig Food Truck, The Gates’ permanent on-site food truck slinging tasty tapas all day long.
For spiny lobster, try places like Blue Heaven (who offers a Surf n’ Turf with Filet and Spiny Lobster), Conch Republic Seafood Company (for a smooth and creamy Caribbean Spiny Lobster Bisque), The Stone Crab (to try their tender, Whole Florida Lobster filled with a sauteed seafood stuffing), and A&B Lobster House for Caribbean Lobster Thermidor, Lobster Risotto, or Lobster Oscar.
Booking a trip to Key West this summer? With shuttle service to Old Town, The Blind Pig Food Truck, an on-site rum bar, cigar lounge, and awesome pool area - The Gates Key West is in a class of its own. Check out our special summer offers online. We have plenty of options to get you out on the water, including our limited time Dive Then Dream package, which gets you exclusive deals on all dives and excursions with Southpoint Divers.