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Party with the locals to celebrate lobster season in Belize

May 9th 2019

The laid-back islands and bohemian beachfront of Belize never go out of season, but if you want your small group adventure to include a unique celebration — and if you love seafood — June is the month!

Like waiting for summer fun when the school year ends, Belize counts down annually to June 15, the day lobster season opens. From June 15 through Feb. 14, commercial fishermen, divers, snorkelers, and anyone else may once again haul in the Caribbean spiny lobster, a favorite meal for locals and visitors alike and an important seafood export.

Celebrations feature drinking, eating, and dancing day and night as chefs serve lobster any way you can imagine it — ceviche, fajitas, pizza, sushi, tacos, chowder, grilled, kebabs, thermidor, ravioli, bacon-wrapped, and more. Drinks such as Belikin beer, the national brew, and all kinds of tropical concoctions flow in a nonstop tide.

Plenty of other seafood is available too, and visitors are especially encouraged to try lionfish, an aggressive, non-native species that’s wreaking havoc in Caribbean waters.

Here’s the rundown, check your calendar, and round up your lobster-loving friends:

Placencia Lobsterfest: June 21-23, 2019

Attracting Belizeans and international travelers alike, the biggest mainland bash happens in Placencia, an otherwise easy-going, beach town and fishing village in southern Belize. Launched in 1998, the Placencia Lobsterfest at first was a one-day party at the harbor but morphed over the years into a weekend of celebration that lasts well into the night. Chefs at over 50 booths and cook shacks serve all kinds of lobster variations and other typical dishes.

San Pedro Lobster Festival: June 13-22, 2019
Hop a boat and head to Ambergris Caye, about 35 miles from Belize City, for a 10-day festival in San Pedro, the main city on the island. Yes, the 2019 event kicks off before lobster season opens, but the first two days feature lionfish dishes and activities before lobster takes the spotlight. Along with lobster dishes and an array of seafood specialties, the celebration also has all kinds of activities (games, competitions, and an offbeat beauty contest to name a few). After the opening-night party, events run night and day, with a blowout block party, featuring a steel drum band among the live acts, on the final night.

Caye Caulker Lobster Fest: June 28-30, 2019

Caye Caulker, a small, funky island about 20 miles from Belize City, sets aside the last weekend of June every year to welcome the return of lobster season. Its festival, dating to 1994, opens with a Miss Lobster Fest contest amid a lively party atmosphere. Besides all types of lobster and seafood fishes, the celebration includes lobster-fishing contests and weigh-ins, music, and all-day beach party. This year’s 25th anniversary celebration will rock the island!

No claws for concern

Unlike the lobsters found in cold waters of North America, Caribbean spiny lobsters have no claws but rather pointy spines all over their topside to protect them from predators.

The delicious meat is found in its tail, and overfishing prompted many nations to impose restrictions on lobster harvesting. Not only is lobster fishing banned several months of the year during mating season, size restrictions are also commonplace. Habitat loss also contributes to its decline, as do lionfish, which feed on immature lobsters and a variety of other native species.

As your small adventure travel group explores Central America, beware that if lobster’s on the menu out of season, it’s probably been illegally caught or may have been imported or frozen. But when June 15 rolls around in Belize, it’s time to celebrate a delicious, new season of Belize’s favorite seafood, all the way through mid-February!

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