Lobsters love the cold, clean waters off the DownEast coastline, and the rocky floor of the Gulf of Maine offers an ideal habitat and protection from predators. Visitors have come to the Maine coast for centuries to partake in this delectable crustacean. Many claim to eat it for every meal. Whether a classic lobster roll in the fresh sea air or a five-star restaurant’s creative interpretation, lobster is an important part of any visit to Maine.
The American lobster (Homarus americanus)
This most iconic crustacean thrives in the cold, clean waters and rocky bottom habitat found along the coast of Maine. Lobsters are harvested by the region’s independent fishermen who make daily boat trips to tend their traps, which are marked by colorful buoys.
Maine is known for its delicious new or soft shell lobsters, which yield succulent, flavorful meat from a shell that can usually be cracked by hand. Most lobsters are caught between late June and late December when they are most active. With an annual catch of over 100 million pounds valued at more than $300 million, the Maine lobster industry plays a vital role in the state and local economy, providing thousands of jobs.
Climb aboard an authentic lobster boat
Motor out amid the islands and bays of the Maine coast for a unique vacation experience. Listen closely as the salty captain and crew describe the parts of the lobster trap and how they work, demonstrate how to haul a lobster trap, and tell you all about the anatomy and life cycle of these fascinating crustaceans.
Listen to the history and folklore of Maine lobstermen amid the beauty of the sea and the sights of the coast and its spruce-studded islands, rugged cliffs, and stunning mountainscapes. Kids can often help bait and pull in a trap, then learn which ones are keepers and which must be return to the ocean floor.
Be sure to keep an eye out for seals and porpoises, eagles, ospreys, and other marine and birdlife as you chug back to shore.
When early settlers first consumed lobster, it was plentiful in waters around Maine, making it an extremely cheap food source. In fact, prisoners had to eat lobster so often that they fought to pass a rule, so they only had to eat lobster three times a week. Lobster was even fed to pigs or used as fishing bait or fertilizer.
Today visitors arrive from all over the world ready to eat lobster at nearly every meal. The traditional way to eat one is steamed or boiled with a side of melted butter, and usually a bib and lots of hand wipes. If you order a “shore dinner,” it will come with a cup of lobster stew and some steamers.
A True Maine experience means a lobster roll with homemade fries and a view of the ocean. But the choices don’t end there. Try a lobster omelet or benedict for a decadent breakfast. Lobster grilled cheese, lobster mac, and cheese, lobster dip or won tons, or a classic lobster salad make for a perfect lunch. Dinner time comes with offerings like lobster risotto, surf, and turf, or a lobster crepe.
Truly adventurous diners can keep it going through dessert. If you look hard enough, you will find treats like lobster ice cream, lobster pudding, or cheesecakes.