Steamed, boiled, seasoned, baked, or on a roll. Every year, thousands of people flock to Maine for the chance to get their hands on some of the freshest lobster in the country. But when is lobster season in Maine?
Maine lobster season occurs year round, but the best lobsters are usually caught in spring and fall. However, there are better times to visit Maine than others, and more factors should be considered when planning a trip.
While catching lobster is a year-round occupation, most lobsters are typically caught in the summer and fall months. There are several factors that contribute to this, and I will dive into them more in detail below.
Did you know that you can find both hard and soft shell lobster in Maine?
Season for Hard Shell Lobsters
Hard-shell lobster is the kind that most people think of when they think of lobster. More of these lobsters are collected in the summer and fall, mostly driven by tourism and pleasant weather. In the winter, the lobsters are still there, albeit further away from the shore. This means the fishermen have travel out longer and endure harsher weather, causing harder working conditions.
A federal regulation also bans lobstering in a certain area, due to whale activity, from the months of October to January. Though it’s only a specific area, this also has an affect on the volume of available lobster caught during these months. Prices for hard shell lobsters will be highest during the months of January to March.
Historically, the best time to visit Maine for hard shell lobster are late April to early June. Less of the lobster have been caught over the winter, and have grown hard shells and are full size. October to December are usually better as well, after the busy tourist season. However, the recent federal regulations might affect prices for the fall lobster catch.
Season for Soft Shell Lobsters
Did you know that lobsters molt (shed their shell) to grow larger? After they molt, their new shells are softer. These soft shell lobsters still have the same great meat. The summer months are a fairly common time to see soft shell lobsters at the market, as the lobsters have started to return to warmer waters.
Best Time to Visit Maine
Now that you know a little about lobsters in Maine, there are a few key dates that you should keep in mind if you’re hoping to visit Maine and taste lobster.
Late spring can be a really nice time to visit Maine. Temperatures are starting to rise, it’s a little earlier than tourist season, and lobster is at its best after limited winter fishing. Acadia National Park opens in early May, if you want to include that in your itinerary.
Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the outdoor dining season and the beginning of summer in Maine and is typically when most restaurants begin serving more lobster. Memorial Day weekend is really festive, and a fun time to be in Maine for vacation.
Of course, the most popular time to visit Maine is throughout the summer months, when the weather is warm and there’s nothing better than enjoying a nice plate of seafood outdoors. In summer, more lobster is caught than any other season. The weather makes for great fishing conditions and the lobster have moved closer to shore toward warm waters. At this time of year, you’ll find a lobster roll just about everywhere!
Finally, fall is a magical time to visit Maine, when the leaves are starting to change colors and the cool air has set in. The colors are stunning! It’s much more peaceful during this time, perfect for a relaxing weekend. Maine is full of natural beauty. With cooler air, hiking in Acadia National Park is a great activity. It closes for the winter season starting November 1.
Maine Lobster Festival
Another great way to celebrate this delicious shellfish is to visit during the Maine Lobster Festival, which happens the first week of August in Rockland, Maine. It’s a five-day festival of feasting on fresh lobster, cooking contests, music, a parade, and entertainment for kids.
In addition, the Steins and Vines tasting event takes place at the Maine Lobster Festival. Here, you can sample craft beer and wine made in Maine. It can be a very busy event, so you will want to book a hotel early.
Catch Lobster in Maine
There are several reputable lobster boats that run tours around Maine for lobster fishing. Taking a group tour or chartering a lobster boat and catching lobsters together is a great family activity in the summer.
It’s important to know that there are strict guidelines set by the state regarding who can actually pull the traps and do the fishing. As a guest on a lobster boat, you will be taught how it works and see how it is done. Though you will not be allowed to pull the traps up or participate physically, you will be as close as you can get to the action.
Take your foodie tour to the next level and catch lobster yourself, then eat lobster caught on the trip for dinner! Here are a couple of great options for best lobster boat tours in Maine, setting off from the most traveled destinations. All of them are available for shared group tours or private charters:
Bar Harbor: Lulu Lobster Boat Tours
Portland: Lucky Catch Cruises
Kennebunkport: Rugosa Lobster Tours
Where to Eat the Best Lobster in Maine
If you’re looking for the best lobster in Maine, then head to Portland! Portland is a great destination for foodies and home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the state. Here are just a few that you should visit: Eventide Oyster Co., Scales, The Highroller Lobster Co., and Luke’s Lobster.
Portland is also home to the famous Portland Lobster Company, where you can have an award winning lobster roll on the water. They can even overnight live lobster to your house if you want to buy Maine lobster after you are back home from vacation. No matter what your budget is, you’re sure to find a delicious seafood meal in Portland.
No matter what time of year you find yourself in Maine, there’s always a chance to enjoy some delicious lobster. Consider the other reasons to visit Maine, and overall what type of trip you’d like to craft.
Do you dream of warm summer evenings sitting on a dock enjoying a lobster roll? Or, would you rather sit by a fire at night after a day of exploring the changing colors of the Maine wilderness? Whichever themes you’re drawn to, include them in your plans. It will only make your experience in Maine more memorable.
Ready to sink your teeth into a fresh lobster roll? Check out the best hotels in Maine and start planning your vacation.