Your Guide To Lobster Mini-Season in Key West

Lobster is one of the most delicious of all the shellfish, and those native to the waters surrounding Key West are especially sweet. With summer underway and lobster season coming up, we’re zeroing in on a local tradition that kicks off this tasty and sunny time of year. Lobster mini-season in Key West has become an annual tradition enjoyed by thousands of locals and travelers every year. 

For everything you need to know about it, check out this guide to lobster mini-season in Key West. When making plans, be sure to check out the lush accommodations here at the Parrot Key Hotel & Villas / Islander Resort

When is Lobster Mini-Season?

Every year, the mini-season takes place on the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of July. That means that this year’s falls on July 27th and 29th. This two-day mini-season precedes an 8-month regular season when our local waters become filled with fishermen from up and down the coast on the hunt for a good bounty. 

It’s worth noting that local regulations change during this bustling time of year, and the two-day season actually inspires temporary bans on snorkeling and diving within 300 feet of residential and commercial shorelines. 

Tips for Lobster Fisherman

Like the above regulations on diving and snorkeling, there are more nuances to the mini-season that lobstermen and newcomers alike should stay aware of. For example, night swimming and diving in Monroe County is forbidden.

Once you’re aware of the local regulations, you can enjoy the fact that The Florida Keys are famous for having tons of spots with remarkably clear and shallow water that make lobster hunting extra fun. And with over six million lobsters swimming around, there are plenty of opportunities to catch them. If you know how to use a mooring buoy or find sandy bottoms to anchor in, then you’re in good shape. Otherwise, you’ll want to hire a guide. 

Hiring a Guide is a Great Move! 

Do not take out a boat during the mini-season to hunt for lobsters in the Florida Keys unless you have the experience and know-how. Otherwise, there are tons of great charters for you to choose from. One of the great advantages of chartering a boat for your own lobster hunt is that it frees you up as a traveler to take in the scenery and really soak up the experience of catching lobsters. 

Here in Key West, you can book a Lobster Hunt with Saltwater Seafari. The fishing charters with this reputable outlet are advertised as requiring no experience, and the happy, positive, and skilled team says it’s happy to take anyone out to catch some delicious lobster. 

If you have a little bit of snorkeling experience, then you will love this lobster fishing charter that comes with a USCG-Certified captain, all the necessary lobster gear and nets, drinks to enjoy on the water, and visits to the best spots in the area for scenic views and bountiful hauls. 

Lobster Events Beyond Mini-Season

As mentioned earlier, this mini-season only lasts two days, though it does kick off a lengthy season that travelers can enjoy beyond. Also this summer, if you’re as interested in the eating of lobsters as the catching of them, the 25th Annual Key West Lobsterfest will take place from August 11th through the 14th. 

Lobsterfest is another fantastic local tradition, and the four-day event will feature some delicious eats and exciting parties. If you’re able to make it out, be sure to attend the Florida spiny lobster boil on opening night, the Duval Crawl across its most famous bars and pubs, free concerts, the street fair, and the famous lobster brunch at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon. 

Gearing Up for A Trip To The Keys

To learn more about places around the Florida Keys where you can eat lobster and hunt for it, check out our neighborhood guide (Parrot KeyIslander) with restaurants and boat chartering recommendations. With boat chartering recommendations for Key West and Islamorada, we can hook you up for affordable and exceptional charter with local favorites like Sunset Watersports located on-site at Parrot Key Hotel & Villas.

If fishing is more your focus, we can also connect you with more charter groups and fishing organizations to make your visit all the better. In addition to mini-season lobster hunting excursions, you can head out to the deep sea for tournament-style days with Deep Sea Sport Fishing, or book a more casual day with Party Boat Group Fishing. 

When it’s time to eat, in addition to events like Key West Lobsterfest, there are tons of fantastic restaurants to eat lobster around the islands. For some of the best seafood in Key West, consider stopping by local favorites like the Conch Republic Seafood Company, Eaton street Seafood Market & Restaurant, and Pinchers. In addition to lobster, conch and hogfish are local delights.

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