Well-traveled foodies know Prince Edward Island is the place to go for an Atlantic gastro-vacation, especially for seafood, and more specifically, succulent lobster wild caught from the sea at its peak. PEI is known around the world for its hard-shelled crustaceans that yield juicy, tender meat, and for the smaller variety (75% of the catch) that gourmets prefer because they are more flavorful and delicate. Here’s where to find the best lobster on PEI.
Today, Prince Edward Island has 1,200 lobster fishers with most coming from families who have been fishing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for generations. The lobster fishery is a highly regulated one; open just two months of the year, with a focus on sustainable and fair trade practices.
Visitors can buy live lobster at the wharf in May to June and August to October or head to a market or grocery store. Discover the best places to buy lobster and how to cook it, according to the pros.
As celebrity Chef Michael Smith says, “a feed of lobsters is an instant occasion, a special treat and a tasty connection to the Island.”
Make a reservation at these popular standbys: In the east, Clam Diggers Restaurant and Beach House for seafood and sunsets on the deck; on the north-central shore, The Mill is an acclaimed farm/sea-to-table fine dining spot; and in Summerside, Brothers 2 for steak, seafood, and PEI brews. In Charlottetown, go to Lobster on the Wharf for superb culinary fusion. Squeeze in next to locals at Water-Prince Corner Shop over no-frills tasty fare — also Chef Michael Smith's fave spot. For lobster, music, and burgers, try Fish Bones.
Try pulling in a feisty crustacean yourself. Experienced seaman Captain Mark of Top Notch Lobster Tours takes three sailings a day, as his family has been doing for four generations. Guests will learn to snag a buoy and haul it in fisher-style. The brave are welcome to pluck live lobsters out of the trap and band the claws too. The best part - everyone shares a traditional lobster boil onboard afterward.
Experience PEI is another local outfitter that will get you on a boat with a veteran fisher to show you the ropes. You choose the bounty: lobsters, mussels, oysters, or a deep-sea fishing expedition.
North Cape Coastal Drive
In western PEI, the North Cape Coastal Drive is a seafood cornucopia — and a must-visit destination. Enjoy fresh lobster, of course, as well as world-famous Malpeque oysters, snow crab, and mussels. Along the way, stop to eat at cute cafés, eclectic eateries, and fine dining rooms. Make and taste potato fudge at the Canadian Potato Museum, learn to shuck oysters, and enjoy the music and culture of Indigenous, Acadian and Celtic communities.
Culinary Institute of Canada
Grab the opportunity to cook at one of Canada's finest culinary schools - the Culinary Institute of Canada. Dubbed as the 'Ultimate Island Culinary Experience' puts on fantastic boot camps via Holland College. Adult, family and kid/teen culinary boot camps are immersive full and half-day programs with participants working alongside award-winning chefs in a state-of-the-art kitchen. Boot camps are extremely popular so sign up early and be ready to put on your very own chef’s whites.
If you’d rather just reap the rewards without all the work, savour the best from the industry's rising chefs at the on-site Lucy Maud Dining Room. The harbour view at sunset is breathtaking and the food is devoutly local and offers a unique, gastronomic experience.
While it’s not all lobster all the time, you can be sure that the Prince Edward Island Fall Flavours Festival will have plenty to sample. You can head to a lobster party on the beach, then bite into local potatoes, green beans, oysters, mussels, and beef. The festival is a treasured month-long celebration of food offering authentic experiences, cooking demos, music, outdoor adventure, celebrity chefs, chef-hosted dinners along with beer, wine and food tastings—all across Prince Edward Island.
PEI International Shellfish Festival
The PEI International Shellfish Festival is a lively September extravaganza that spotlights Food Network hotshots and features high-profile cooking demos, Iron Chef-type competitions, celebrity chefs, live East Coast Kitchen Parties and tons more fun. Learn how to shuck shellfish like the pros or try a quahog (a hard clam) for the first time. There’s even a Chef Challenge Dish worth $10,000 in prize money.
Be sure to end your lobster feast with an ice cream treat — yep, the Island is also famed for its spectacular dairy products. COWS is the go-to spot for old-fashioned, rich ice cream. Pro tip: Wowie Cowie is the flavor to order. You may just have to stay longer than planned to eat your way across this epicure’s isle.