Ever eaten a lobster roll after a winter surfing lesson with a cold lobster-infused beer in your knitted-lobster-mittened hands? Then you haven’t been to Nova Scotia.
There are only three seasons in Nova Scotia: summer, fall, and lobster. Lobster season stretches from the last Monday in November until May 31 when the final lobster trap is pulled from the waters until the next year. During lobster season, a crustacean fixation takes over this Canadian province with lobster-themed excursions, menus, and events. There’s even a lobster festival each February, where Lucy the Lobster kicks off 18 days of festivities as she crawls out of the sea in search of her shadow during the South Shore Lobster Crawl. From lobster-infused beer tastings to taking to the seas on a working lobster boat, these Nova Scotian experiences are all they’re cracked up to be.
Try a Lobster-Infused Beer
WHERE: Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
Saltbox Brewery in Mahone Bay began fermenting its first batch of Crustacean Elation in 2018, integrating whole lobsters into the brewing process by adding them to the mash to infuse the malt with the lobster’s signature salty seawater aftertaste. Skepticism was high when the beer was first released, even among locals, but it’s developed a cult following as the perfect pairing for a lobster roll. The beer is available during lobster season, when cider drinkers can also grab a pint of Lobster Pinch—a cider produced in partnership between Petite Riviere Winery and Uncle Sid’s Cidery.
Lobster Season Winter Surfing Lesson
WHERE: Hunts Point, Nova Scotia
White Point Beach Resort offers surfing lessons on year-round, but it’s during the coldest months of lobster season that the surf really heats up. The resort holds public surfing sessions through the season, but also arranges private lessons for visitors looking for a little more one-on-one attention from instructors.
INSIDER TIPSurfers staying at the resort can end the day with a bonfire and lobster-shaped s’mores on the beach.
Paint and Sip a Lobster-Themed Masterpiece
WHERE: Liverpool, Nova Scotia
Local artist Andre Haines’s paintings can be seen in most of the province’s main galleries, where his whimsical use of color captures the spirit of Nova Scotia’s landscapes and scenery. During the South Shore Lobster Crawl visitors can take part in his paint-and-sip nights, where he regales the group with traditional Nova Scotian songs and stories while guiding the artists to paint a lobster-themed scene (fishing boats, harbor scenes, etc.). He’s also available for private events throughout the year.
Eat Your Way Through the Lobster Trail
WHERE: Throughout Nova Scotia
There are more than 45 stops along the Nova Scotia Lobster Trail, each offering a completely distinct lobster experience like lobster tacos, lobster poutine, lobster fondue, and, of course, lobster rolls. Anyone completing 10 stamps or more in their Lobster Trail passport is eligible to win one of the Grand Prizes, either a Peggy Cove Boat Tour and Lobster Dinner or a home delivery with 30 pounds of Nova Scotia lobster.
INSIDER TIPA “lobster roll off” is held during the South Shore Lobster Crawl, where more than a dozen restaurants and food trucks compete for the chance to be named as the best lobster roll of the South Shore. Try out all the contenders to see if your favorite lines up with the results of the competition.
Warm up With Lobster Mittens
WHERE: Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia
Knitting is a beloved past time throughout the province, and it’s not just reserved for knitting circles or fireside hobbyists. Joanne McDow at the Mema Collection in Clark’s Harbour on Cape Sable Island created a lobster-patterned mitten that can be seen on the hands of many throughout the province. Becky’s Knit & Yarn Shop hosts an annual “Lockie the Lobster Knitting Festival” in Lockeport, where many of the wools have been dyed using lobster stock.
Visit Lucy the Lobster
WHERE: Barrington Passage, Nova Scotia
Lucy the Lobster (or Lob“star”) is the Punxsutawney Phil of Nova Scotia. Every February 2, visitors and locals alike gather in Barrington early in the morning to watch Lucy, a live lobster crawl from the waters edge to her cage in hopes she will see her shadow to determine how much winter is left. Lucy now has a permanent home at Capt. Kat’s Lobster Shack, where visitors can snap a photo of this famous lobster before sampling one of the top-rated lobster rolls in Sou’West Nova Scotia.
Become a Lobster Fisherman for a Day
WHERE: Hunts Point, Nova Scotia
Get your hands dirty at White Point Beach Resort with their lobster fishing experience. This hands-on program puts visitors out on a real, working lobster fishing boat to learn how these crustaceans are captured. Watch the crew bait the traps and pull in the catch or lend a hand banding the lobster’s claws once the biggest ones have been pulled in (and the smaller lobsters have been returned to the sea). Other operators in the province offer shorter harbor tour experiences for guests to learn about lobster fishing, including Gillis Lobster Tours & Charters, Cape Breton Lobsters, and Tusket Island Tours.
Tour a Lobster Processing Facility
WHERE: Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
During the South Shore Lobster Crawl Festival, visitors are free to tour the Fisher’s Direct Lobster Pound to see what it takes to get the lobsters from the boats and ready for shipping around the world. See where the lobsters are held in live tanks and where they end up in their “lobster apartments” for transportation outside of Nova Scotia. Between May and October, guests can tour the Hall’s Harbour Lobster Pound in the Annapolis Valley for a small fee as well.
Eat Lobster for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
WHERE: Nova Scotia (generally)
Lobster for breakfast, lobster for lunch, and lobster for dinner aren’t options in many other parts of the world, but, in Nova Scotia, it’s a piece of cake—lobster cake! Start the day with a lobster eggs benny at Pictou Lodge Beach Resort or at Ocean Treasures Take Out, followed by lobster crab potato cakes at The Sou’Wester Restaurant in Peggy’s Cove and end the day with the famous “Lunenburger” (a six-ounce beef patty topped with smoked mozzarella, smoked bacon, baby spinach, lobster knuckles, and claws with a tarragon butter sauce) at the Grand Banker Bar and Grill in Lunenburg.
See the Kilted Chef in Action
WHERE: Pictou, Nova Scotia
Chef Alain Bosse, aka the Kilted Chef, is the culinary ambassador for Atlantic Canada and something of a celebrity throughout Nova Scotia, often cooks for dignitaries in town like Prince Charles and Dr. Condoleezza Rice. His cookbook, “The Acadian Kitchen: Recipes from Then and Now,” gives tips and recipes on cooking with lobster, but its his Lobster 101 course that he offers during the South Shore Lobster Crawl that really digs into this succulent sea creature. He teaches how to select, cook, break down, and eat a lobster, with an emphasis on sustainability, humane handling practices, and advice on what to eat and what to leave behind in the shell. During the rest of the year, visitors can attend a cooking class at his farm for a day of sourcing ingredients, cooking, and savoring each bite with a glass of Nova Scotia wine.
Wind Down With a Lobster Caesar
WHERE: Pictou, Nova Scotia
The Bloody Caesar is the national cocktail of Canada, but the version found in Nova Scotia gives a nod to its most beloved local ingredient. Along with Clamato juice, vodka, hot sauce, celery salt, and Worcestershire sauce, the Nova Scotia Lobster Caesar is topped with two large lobster claws. Chef Alain Bosse invented the recipe and still offers it during his cooking classes on his farm, but many restaurants feature the cocktail as a special feature during lobster season. Every restaurant that serves lobster in Nova Scotia knows how to make it, and it’s like the secret menu of the province to order one even if it doesn’t appear on the drink menu.
Take a Nautical Knot-Making Class
WHERE: Barrington, Nova Scotia
The town of Barrington is the lobster capital of Nova Scotia, and it’s the host of the annual South Shore Lobster Crawl each year. During the festival, artist and skilled knot maker Terry Faye shares his skills by teaching visitors how to make a traditional nautical knot from one single strand of thick sailor’s rope. His “Monkey Fist Making” workshop books up fast each year, but he is available for private bookings throughout the year in Barrington.