5 ways to dine on fresh lobster in Nova Scotia that will definitely surprise you

Get your claws into the freshest and most unforgettable lobster on the east coast.

Get your claws into the freshest and most unforgettable lobster on the east coast

Fresh lobster at Peggy’s Cove/Credit: Helen Earley

This article was originally published April 25, 2018.

You haven't visited Canada's Atlantic coast until you've dined on its seafood: fresh fish, huge juicy scallops – and the king of crustaceans, the mighty lobster.

An important thing to consider when you visit Atlantic Canada is that there are 41 individual lobster fishing districts in the region, whose seasons are staggered throughout the year, so that not everyone is fishing at the same time. Don't worry, you can definitely get lobster at any time of the year (there's always someone fishing lobster, somewhere in Atlantic Canada!), but "lobster season" varies, depending on where you are.

Nova Scotians love their lobster and their visitors in equal portion, and this is why, among the many hospitality specialists in the province, a few have quite literally pushed the boat out to offer a unique experience for visitors. From a weekend of lobster fishing and luxury, to a simple meal of lobster steamed on a lawnmower (yes, a lawnmower), here are some surprising ways to dine on lobster in Nova Scotia.

Boil your own lobster at Peggy's Cove

Peter Richardson helps visitors steam their own lobster at Peggy’s Cove/Credit: Helen Earley

Peter Richardson is looking forward to the first full summer season of his food truck business, U-Cook Lobster, where he expects to feed thousands of tourists from all over the world, as they visit the province's most iconic lighthouse, Peggy's Cove. The no-frills concept is very simple. First, you pick your favourite lobster out of a cool box, take off the claw-bands (be careful!) and help Richardson stick it in a mesh bag (called a 'bait bag'). Next, you stick the lobster in a steaming lobster pot, and you're handed a timer. Twelve minutes will fly by as you soak in the scenery and chat to other visitors, then — ding! — your lobster is ready. To serve, Richardson cracks the shell for you, and presents your meal on a simple plastic fish tray, to enjoy at a nearby picnic table, or leaning over a brightly painted oil barrel. It is no-frills, and perhaps the freshest lobster you'll ever eat.

Head out on a fishing boat, then have your catch prepared in luxury

The Great Canadian Lobster Fishing Feast/photo courtesy of White Point Beach Lodge

If you visit Nova Scotia between March and May (and you should!), push yourself to the limits of adventure with The Great Canadian Lobster Fishing Feast, where you will spend a day with Captain Crouse and fisher, Sarah Allen, aboard their 37-foot lobster fishing boat. On board, you'll help to measure and band the catch, as the crew hauls up dozens of lobster traps from the Atlantic Ocean. Back at White Point Beach Lodge Resort, your hard work is rewarded with a luxury chef's feast prepared over a bonfire. The menu includes steamed mussels with red Thai curry and coconut milk, and the lobster you caught, served with crispy, crushed fingerling potatoes, grilled tomato, freshly-baked buttermilk biscuits, and local Nova Scotian wine.

Steam your lobster… on a repurposed lawn mower

Tina Frost helps her campground guests enjoy fresh lobster/Credit: Helen Earley

On the way to the whale-watching paradise of Brier Island you'll find family-run business Whale Cove Campground. According to owner Tina Frost, there aren't too many people in her family who aren't involved in the lobster industry. It's natural, then, that Frost offers a unique "lobster service" to campers. First, choose your lobster from a tank in the "lobster room" next to the campground office (the catch is likely to have been brought in by Tina's daughter Tamara who is first mate on a lobster fishing boat). Then borrow the gear: pots, picks, utensils, disposable bibs and placemats.

A lobster pot is placed on a fire pit made from a washing machine drum and a repurposed lawnmower/Credit: Helen Earley

Head to your campsite where, over a fire pit made from a washing machine drum and a lawnmower (a genius design), you steam your water, and place the lobster in the pot. Frost and her family are always on hand to show guests how to cook and shell the lobsters, and to give them a tour of the wharf, only a few steps away.

Feast on the beach in the Cape Breton Highlands

Enjoy stories and music while your lobster cooks at Cape Breton Highlands National Park/Credit: Helen Earley

The road through Cape Breton Highlands National Park is ranked as one of the world's top road trips, but did you know that the park is also a great place to have a lobster feast? At La Bloc beach, a picturesque pebble beach that looks out onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence, visitors can learn to lobster boil, under the guidance of talented Parks Canada staff. In a part of the province where it seems that everyone has a musical talent, there are sure to be some stories and tunes while you wait for your lobster to cook. It's recommended to book ahead for this experience, which only happens once per week during the summer.

Drink lobster-infused beer

Two Nova Scotia breweries have developed a signature lobster-infused craft beer/photo courtesy of Hell Bay/Facebook

Inspired by the first ever South Shore Lobster Crawl in 2018 (a winter event in which local restaurants compete to see who has the best lobster roll sandwich), two Nova Scotia craft breweries developed a special libation to accompany the meal: lobster-infused beer! First to the party was Hell Bay Brewery in Liverpool, with their Lobster Crawler, a light ale with characteristics of biscuit malts and citrusy hops. Soon after, Saltbox Brewing Company in Mahone Bay developed Crustacean Elation, a light ale which some say has a slight, pleasant shellfish taste. Since both breweries make small batches for the summer tourist season, it would also be prudent to call ahead to make sure they've got lobster on tap, so-to-speak.

Helen Earley is a Halifax-based food and travel writer. Follow her @hfxhelen.