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It's the start of stone crab season in Florida! The traps are hitting the water today!

Stone crab season in Florida is a much-anticipated event for seafood enthusiasts, and for good reason! The sweet, succulent meat of these crustaceans is a culinary delight. In this blog post, we’ll explore the ins and outs of stone crab season, from when and where to catch them to where you can enjoy this delicious seafood delicacy on Anna Maria Island. Plus, we’ll also give you the lowdown on how stone crabs are prepared and served, and when you can experience the fun-filled Cortez Stone Crab Festival.

When is Stone Crab Season in Florida?


Stone crab season in Florida typically runs from October 15th to May 15th. During this time, it’s legal to harvest stone crabs, but there are specific regulations in place to protect the population. It’s essential for fishermen to follow these rules to ensure the sustainability of this delectable seafood.


How are Stone Crabs Caught?


Stone crabs are unique because they are caught for their claws, not their bodies. When capturing stone crabs, fishermen use specialized traps to catch them. These traps are designed to allow the crabs to enter but make it difficult for them to escape. Once caught, if they meet the minimum size requirement, a claw is carefully removed, and the crabs are returned to the water, where they can regenerate their claws over time. 

Stone Crab Eco Tour

Where are Stone Crabs Caught?


Stone crabs are abundant in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast of Florida. You can find them in various locations, including the waters around Anna Maria Island. So if you are sitting at the beach wondering what all the colorful bouys are floating in the water, those are crab trap bouys. At the end of a roap there is a trap sitting on the bottom baited for stone crabs! These color full bouys are specific to each fisherman who is licensed to harvest these delicious treats! 


Where on Anna Maria Island Can I Buy Stone Crabs?


If you’re on Anna Maria Island and looking to buy fresh stone crabs, you’re in luck! There are several seafood markets and shops on the island that offer this seasonal delicacy. Some popular options include the Anna Maria Island Seafood Market and Star Fish Company Market & Restaurant, both of which often have fresh stone crabs available during the season.

Where on Anna Maria Island Serves Fresh Stone Crabs?


If you’d rather have someone else prepare and serve you delicious stone crab claws, Anna Maria Island has some fantastic dining options. Be sure to check out The Waterfront Restaurant, a local favorite that serves fresh seafood, including stone crabs, with a picturesque view of the bay. Swordfish Grill in Cortez where you can experience a beautiful sunset overlooking the bay . 


Check out our restaurant recommendation page for a list of  favorite restaurants on Anna Maria Island.

Stone crab

How are Stone Crabs Prepared and Served?


Stone crab are steamed fresh off the boat at the fish house. Then sold by the fish house to local restaurants and beyond. Stone crab claws are typically served cold, and the meat is known for its sweet and tender taste. They are often accompanied by mustard sauce for dipping. Some restaurants may also offer stone crab claws in various dishes, such as salads or pasta, allowing you to savor their unique flavor in different ways.


When is the Cortez Stone Crab Festival?


The Cortez Stone Crab Festival is an annual event held in the historic fishing village of Cortez, just a short drive from Anna Maria Island. While the festival’s exact dates can vary from year to year, it typically takes place in October, coinciding with the start of stone crab season. It’s a must-visit event for seafood lovers, featuring fresh stone crab claws, live music, arts and crafts vendors, and a delightful atmosphere that celebrates Florida’s fishing heritage.


Stone crab season in Florida is a time to indulge in one of the state’s most cherished seafood delicacies. From the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the restaurants and festivals on Anna Maria Island, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy fresh stone crab claws. Whether you prefer to crack them open yourself or savor them at a local restaurant, this seasonal treat is sure to delight your taste buds. Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Cortez Stone Crab Festival, where you can fully immerse yourself in the stone crab experience!

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