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San Pedro, Belize may have the #1 Lobster Fest on earth – here’s why

Combine the best tropical vacation with the best food with this festival

Balloon lobster at festival entrance
Mark D. McKee / The Manual

The country of Belize has dozens of experiences for any traveler to escape the mundane days of the rest of the year during that coveted vacation. Of course, aside from laying on the beach and drinking one-of-a-kind alcoholic beverages while listening to the waves and watching sunsets, there are some impressive adventures the braver visitors can undertake, such as treks through the jungle and swimming with nurse sharks. But out of all the things you can experience within the borders of Belize, perhaps the most famous and biggest draw is the annual Lobster Fest.

Beginning in 2007, the once two-day event has grown to become a two-week event stuffed full of events to kick off the celebration of fishermen able to return to work. Following four consecutive months of fishing prohibition, the celebration boasts some of Belize’s best parties, attracting locals, tourists, and expats to sample the best the island has to offer. We had an opportunity to sit down with Rebecca Arceo, owner of SEAduced by Belize, and organizer of the Lobster Fest, to get the inside scoop on what travelers can expect and how it came about.

Local restaurants
Mark D. McKee / The Manual

Combining great food with tropical weather

The mark of a great vacation is the ability to disappear from your everyday life and experience the best that a new place has to offer. And of course, partake in some of the best food you have ever tasted and can’t get back home. When you hit the San Pedro Lobster Fest, you will have an opportunity to see some of the most beautiful sunsets over the crystal clear blue waters, swim with nurse sharks, and then by the time the sun goes down, sample some of the best lobster-themed foods on the planet.

When you enter the festival for the block party to kick off the two weeks of festivities, you are greeted with a giant balloon lobster and smiling faces who welcome you with a free wristband and samples of local beer to carry around and peruse the vendors set up to enter some of the most unique food you have ever experienced. And it is mutually beneficial as it is a huge boon to San Pedro. Arceo commented on the best benefits of the festival, “The boost to the local economy. We also know that many of the people that come for Lobster Fest chose to return to Belize again and again.”

Lobster competition
Mark D. McKee / The Manual

Boosting San Pedro

It’s easy to overlook the small island of San Pedro when traveling to Belize in favor of the mainland jungle adventures and numerous resorts that dot the coastline. But during the slow season, there is a lot less going on unless, of course, you visit during the coveted two weeks at the beginning of the fishing season. When we asked Arceo about the ultimate goal of San Pedro’s Lobster Fest and what you can expect to see or hear during the festival.

“The initial concept was to bring more tourists to San Pedro in ‘slow season.’ Over the years, the concept has grown and evolved. We now pride ourselves in a very diverse event that exposes tourists to many venues that they would not otherwise visit. Things like the Belize Chocolate Company and many restaurants and bars. We also only have local Belizean artists perform. For the block party, we love that both locals and tourists attend and mingle and that it is completely free to attend.”

Live music at Lobster Fest in San Pedro, Belize
Mark D. McKee / The Manual

The local culture’s time to shine

There are two things you will notice at the festival. The first is the moment you walk in; you will hear the sounds of live music. Everything from local artists playing the music of today to traditional Gurifana music will tickle your ears while you watch local dance companies perform everything from traditional dances to modern numbers. The next thing you will notice is the same names of restaurants you noticed all over the island. These chefs and bartenders all come together to put their talents on display by creating lobster-themed dishes and cocktails like lobster pizza and ramen.

Since 2007, the number of artists and chefs has grown exponentially, and Arceo believes the consistency and the wonders of social media helped the Lobster Fest in San Pedro grow to be one of the best in the world. “I think that word of mouth and social media have helped the growth,” Arceo said. “Most importantly, I think the fact that we have slowly and patiently built an event that has consistency and a good reputation has made a huge difference. We make sure we grow in baby steps so there are not too many growing pains.”
Festival residents at Lobster in San Pedro, Belize
Mark D. McKee / The Manual

The number 1 reason to continue going back

Once you visit Belize for the first time, you’ll discover there are gems in every corner for you to make memories and take stories to the people at the office. From traditional Garifuna cooking experiences to making Mayan chocolate, there are dozens of things to keep you busy and immediately start planning your return. And you will have a lot to look forward to as Arceo has big plans for the future of the festival. “For the future, we plan on adding a food competition and bartending competition so that our local chefs and bartenders can showcase their skills,” she said. “The focus will be on bringing innovation to local dishes.”

The San Pedro, Belize annual Lobster Fest is one of the best things to do in Belize and one of the only things that is specific to the slow season. After you try it once, you will decide that there is no other time to visit Belize, and no better thing to do than taste the best lobster in the world. Rebecca Arceo and company are on the fast track to turn the slow season into the busy season.

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Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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