Fresh and delicious when prepared just right, lobster can be a true delicacy. South of Cuba, the Caribbean island of Jamaica is the perfect place to indulge in a gourmet lobster meal since plenty of beachside shacks, local restaurants, and all-inclusive resorts include this option on their menus at certain times of the year.
While there are a few different types of lobster, the one you're likely to see on the menu in Jamaica is the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus). Depending on where you go, you might have your lobster served up with garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans, broiled tomato, and Thermidor sauce like it’s done at the Schooners Seafood Grill at Sandals South Coast. Or, you can try a jerked lobster meal infused with Caribbean flavor (and with a baked potato, corn, or even just steamed white rice and beans on the side!). Whatever it is that you desire, you’ll need to arrive in Jamaica during the lobster open season (more details later) to indulge.
Lobster season in Jamaica is from the end of summer to early spring. This is the only time of the year when lobster can legally be caught and eaten on this island. We’ve got more information on the lobster season in Jamaica below, as well as details on where to go to enjoy a tasty lobster meal while in Jamaica!
Want unlimited lobster without worrying about the bill? Stay at one of Jamaica's all-inclusive resorts! They'll usually have a wide selection of seafood on their menus. Try Beaches Resorts in Negril or Beaches Resorts in Ocho Rios for the ultimate culinary adventure mixed in with a ton of exciting activities including land and water sports.
Lobster season in Jamaica is from July up to around March every year.
The closed season is from April 1st through June 30th when the lobsters are given a chance to breed and repopulate. During the closed season, lobster fishing is not permitted, and it is illegal to even keep live lobsters in any holding device. Lobsters that are unintentionally caught in the fishing gear must be released straight away!
In the open season, lobsters are caught in traps that are baited and dropped to the ocean floor. Once these traps are retrieved, the fishermen would then examine their catch. Lobsters that are too big, too small, or females carrying eggs all have to be put back into the sea. Whether or not a lobster is the right size to be caught is determined by its carapace length. Lobsters for harvest must exceed 3.5 inches. These restrictions are put into place to preserve the lobster population.
If you arrive in Jamaica just after the season closes, there is still the possibility for you to enjoy a scrumptious lobster meal. It is legal to use lobster that was caught and frozen during the open season until 21 days after the season has closed. This means that if you missed the open season, but you’ve arrived in early April, you still might be able to find lobster on some restaurant menus!
Good to know: Lobster tends to be quite pricy for a number of reasons. For starters, the yield of lobster meat once cleaned is quite low. Even when the supply of lobster is high, the prices won't necessarily drop because there are lots of logistics involved in successfully catching lobster. Part of this process includes the storage of lobster once caught. Lobsters must be kept in seawater tanks and shipped live. Usually, lobsters are cooked alive which helps to ensure that they're safe to eat.
If you’re in Jamaica, the type of lobster you're most likely to find on your plate is the Caribbean spiny lobster. This kind of lobster is said by some to have a fishier taste than the Maine lobster. They pretty much look like giant crayfish and don’t have the large claws of the Maine lobster. The meat from Caribbean spiny Lobster is also slightly firmer.
While in Jamaica, whether during the lobster season or the 21 days after it closes, it is highly recommended that you try lobster the Jamaican way. As lobster tends to be cooked up in a variety of ways on this island, trying this dish can help you get a true taste of Jamaica. Options for spiny lobster prep in Jamaica include grilled, curried, steamed, or traditional Jamaican jerked. You can even have lobster in salads and soups!
Expert tip: Want to experience the best of Jamaica cuisine? The best time to go to Jamaica is from December to mid-April. This is peak season on this island and there's bound to be a diverse offering of dining options, activities, and tours available. If you arrive in early to mid-April, you may still be able to find lobster on some restaurant menus.
When the lobster season is open, it won’t be hard to find a spot to enjoy a delicious lobster meal. In many places, lobster is freshly caught and prepared on the same day. From beachside shacks to high-end restaurants, if you’re a lobster fan, you're definitely going to want to try it all in Jamaica. The best thing about lobster meals in Jamaica is that they’ve got that infusion of Caribbean flavor that’ll really make your meal stand out.
If you’re outdoors on a beach like Seven Mile Beach in Negril during the open season, you might notice vendors from the various lobster shacks selling fresh lobster on the beach. This is a convenient option to try some lobster, and you'll be able to enjoy your meal in a shady spot looking out at the ocean.
For more gourmet options, try Schooners Seafood Grill (open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner) at Sandals South Coast in Whitehouse, Jamaica. During the open season, you should definitely try the Grilled Caribbean Lobster Tail. The Lobster Bisque with parmesan cheese & puff pastry twist is also quite appetizing.
Neptune’s, a Mediterranean restaurant (open for lunch and dinner), is also known for its delectable seafood options. This restaurant can be found at Sandals Ochi and Sandals South Coast in Jamaica. Other than that, there are also all-inclusive resorts in Negril that serve up lobster and seafood meals in Jamaica.
Expert tip: Aside from its amazing cuisine there are many things Jamaica is known for including its amazing beaches. Here are some of the best beaches in Jamaica and the best areas to stay in Jamaica as well!
Jamaica is a wonderful destination to visit year-round, but it can spice up your vacation a bit if you visit this island during the lobster season. This is especially so if you've been craving some fresh and delicious lobster, and don't mind a twist of Caribbean goodness!
Whether beachside or at one of the exclusive all-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, you can indulge in some amazing lobster meals on this island. Staying at an all-inclusive resort during the lobster season can help ensure that you have all the lobster options you could want during what is sure to be quite the succulent vacation.
Don’t forget to wash your fabulous meal down with some good ol’ Red Stripe Beer - a local Caribbean beer favorite that’s best served cold!
Expert tip: Plan carefully when booking your trip to the Caribbean if you want to sample lobster. The lobster seasons vary in this region. For example, Barbados’ lobster season opens in September and ends in April, while Jamaica’s starts in July and ends in March. Here are some other Jamaica travel tips that’ll be useful for your vacation.