San Pedro Lobsterfest 2017 — A Crustacean Celebration

THE #1 Reason to Visit Ambergris Caye in June

The summer kicks off in Belize with the festival of all festivals: LOBSTER FEST! Rated Belize's #1 festival, Lobster Fest is undoubtedly one of the liveliest celebrations for locals and travelers alike. Each year, celebrations take place in coastal locations all over the country in honor of the succulent seafood that holds a spot as one of Belize's top five net exports.

Although June falls within San Pedro’s historic “slow season,” most locals will attest to the fact that the island has become a year-round destination, with different attractions and specials drawing visitors all throughout the year. In the summertime, one can expect balmy temperatures and higher than average rainfall, but also many more local and cultural events — not to mention up to 40% off on airfare and accommodations! 

 

Lobster Fest started in Caye Caulker in 1994, and from there the quirky seafood party has taken different forms in three additional locations: San Pedro, Belize City, and Placencia. San Pedro is now home to the largest of the Lobster Fest celebrations, featuring live music, a steel drum band, dance performances, and local restaurants serving up the freshest and most innovative lobster dishes imaginable — lobster coconut curry, lobster rolls, lobster ceviche, lobster a la plancha, lobster kebabs, even lobster cheesecake! Note: travelers will be pleasantly surprised by the price of lobster in Belize, after all, the prices reflect the commodity's zero-kilometer abundance.

In San Pedro, Lobster Fest comprises an entire week of activities, beginning with the Lobster Crawl at the official opening of lobster season, June 15th. The Lobster Crawl features a certain establishment each day and night where visitors can show up to take advantage of a special offer and receive a "Lobster Passport" stamp that puts them into a drawing for an ultimate Lobster Fest 2018 vacation package. The more spots you visit and get stamped, the better your chances at snagging the trip!

No Claws? No Problem! 

Caribbean lobster (also referred to as spiny or rock lobster) is a bit different than its North Atlantic cousin. Caribbean lobsters lack the large meaty claws used by cold water lobsters for defense and cracking their prey, therefore only their body and tail meat is served. Which is best? Those that prefer Maine lobster say that the meat is denser and sweeter than Caribbean lobster; though we think that spiny lobster is absolutely delectable — but the discussion goes beyond taste and texture. Here in Belize we may be biased, but there's an experiential quality that comes with dining on seafood that comes directly from the adjacent sea, served to your table in its natural environment, in a place where the history is closely intertwined with the commodity.  After all, it was coconut palms and lobster that originally put San Pedro Town on the map!

Which do you prefer? When we posed this question to local San Pedrano fisherman, Jody Leslie, his response was: "Caribbean lobster of course — I've never had any other type!" Fair enough.

A local fisherman prepares the afternoon's spiny lobster catch at the Mahogany Bay Beach Club on the leeward side of Ambergris Caye.

Lobster Fishing or 'Lobstering'

There is something very special, even primitively gratifying, about being able to catch, prepare, and savor a dish that results from one's own efforts. During lobster season (June 15 – Feb 15) excursions to go lobstering can be arranged with local San Pedrano expert guides to seafood-rich areas of the surrounding Caribbean Sea and Belize Barrier Reef. Lobsters prefer a dark and shaded spots, either tucked within coral patches or underneath man-made structures. So, local fishermen often construct "lobster hotels" (essentially just stacked pallets) to place underwater to provide shade and create a personal lobster harvesting spot for their families or to bring tours. Remarkably, these undersea farmers oftentimes use modern GPS equipment to locate their undersea "farmlands," or seabed lots unofficially recognized amongst Belizeans and passed on through generations within the same family. 

If you love seafood, or perhaps could use a relaxing day on the water followed by the freshest lunch you've ever had, lobster diving is one of our top recommendations for a day on Ambergris Caye during lobster season.

Sea-to-grill whole lobster and lobster kebabs!

When to Visit

This year, the last week of June is prime for enjoying multiple cultural events in Belize. Visit Ambergris Caye for not only San Pedro's Lobster Fest block party on June 24th, but also Dia de San Pedro on June 29th, a very local event where San Pedranos enjoy carnival rides, Belizean foods, and other traditions to commemorate the island's patron saint, St. Peter. Serious lobster aficionados might even consider attending a second Lobster Fest on our neighboring island of Caye Caulker, commencing June 30th!

   American students promote the conservation of the Belize Barrier Reef at Lobster Fest 2015, in cooperation with Hol Chan Marine Reserve. 

   American students promote the conservation of the Belize Barrier Reef at Lobster Fest 2015, in cooperation with Hol Chan Marine Reserve. 

Lobster Fest at Mahogany Bay Village

If you enjoy this succulent seaside specialty, San Pedro Lobsterfest 2017 is a must! If you also love Belize and could imagine owning a vacation home on the island, pair up the week's lobster extravaganza with the Mahogany Bay Village Coastal Living Lifestyle Trip, June 22 – 25!

This particular Coastal Living trip will feature lobster specials from our kitchen at our popular sunset bar, Shaken, as well as an outing to experience the festivities first-hand during the finale party Saturday in downtown San Pedro. What a delightful way to get a REAL TASTE of island life: a luxury sneak preview of Mahogany Bay Village before our Curio Collection by Hilton resort opens in late 2017, and a chance to immerse yourself in the friendly and festive island community!

 

 

Laura Balis