October marks a special, and delicious month in the Florida Keys.
It’s the opening of stone crab season and we invite you to stay with us and visit many of our local restaurants to enjoy the freshest seafood available!
October marks the beginning of autumn for much of the world. In Florida, it marks the beginning of something else: stone crab season. Each year from October 15 to May 1, people come from around the world to collect stone crabs by hand or through traps, harvesting only the oversized claw to enjoy the flavorful meat found within it. Here is what you need to know about this exciting season and how Mangrove Marina can help you plan the stone crab adventure of a lifetime.
Harvesting Stone Crabs
While you can enjoy the stone crab season opening without ever entering the water, you are just as welcome to try your hand at fishing for stone crab. Crab fishers typically use baited traps to collect crabs, but first, you need to obtain a saltwater fishing license. Once you do, you will be able to set up to five traps. You cannot use any equipment or gear, including hooks, spears, or grabbers, that could injure or kill the crab. You will also have a limit of claws that you can collect each day regardless of whether you are setting traps or hand-collecting while scuba diving or snorkeling.
You may only harvest the crusher claws of stone crabs, not the bodies, and once you have collected the claw, you must return the crab to the water. Crabs regenerate their crusher claws several times over their lifetimes. Juvenile crabs will often regenerate claws within months while mature crabs may need a few years to regrow a claw the same size as the one that was lost.
Where to Find Stone Crabs
Although stone crab fishing can be an adventure, it’s not something that appeals to everyone. If you are not up for stone crab fishing, you can still enjoy the pleasures of stone crab. In Tavernier, we have numerous restaurants and seafood markets that offer fresh-caught stone crab prepared in a variety of ways, including:
- Captain Craig’s, which offers all the fresh seafood you love, fresh stone crab chowder, and more
- The Mar Bar tiki bar with fresh stone crab legs, oysters, and conch salad
- The Florida Keys Steak and Lobster House for an upscale stone crab dining experience
- Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, which is a classic Keys favorite with all the stone crab delicacies you could want
- Casamar Seafood Market to purchase your own stone crab claws or other fresh-from-the-Keys seafood
Whether fishing for stone crab or just allowing your taste buds to wander through the Keys sampling the freshest seafood anywhere, you’ll need a home base. At Mangrove Marina, we’ve got options for you, including more than 100 liveaboard wet slips and spacious luxury houseboats that can sleep groups of various sizes. Mangrove Marina is designed with your needs in mind and has all the amenities you would expect of a quality resort, including our heated freshwater waterfront pool, our barbecue facilities and Tiki huts, bathhouses with showers, dock carts, bicycle racks, gardens, and bar and restaurant. We are located in a natural “hurricane hole” where we are sheltered by mature mangroves that help protect us during storms. Contact us to learn more or to make your reservations!