Part treasure hunt, part beach adventure, scalloping season in Cape San Blas draws visitors from across the country with the promise of fresh seafood and sunkissed memories.

Many families approach the season, typically spanning from mid-August to mid-September, as a late summer ‘finale’ before easing back into the pace of homework and busier work schedules. This often means as much relaxing in the sun as diving for scallops, but that is the beauty of scalloping -- it can be as adventurous or leisurely as you like! You do, however, need a few things to get started. Here’s everything you need to know about joining the fun:

Happy family - father, mother, kids in snorkeling mask dive underwater with tropical fishes in coral reef sea pool. Travel lifestyle, watersport adventure, swimming on summer beach holiday with child.
Delicacies fresh scallop mussel at fishing net

Scalloping 101

Gulf of Mexico scallops live in shallow waters just off the coast of Florida’s panhandle. Throughout the summer, different sections along the Gulf permit gathering these tasty creatures to enjoy at home. During an area’s designated window, you can collect up to two gallons of shelled scallops per person per day, or about a pint of scallop meat.

Some people like to wade in from the shore to grab scallops by hand, but many prefer to snorkel for out further in the water. Fortunately for beginners, scallops don’t move very fast, and they live at a friendly snorkeling distance of about 4 to 8 feet below the surface, making them an ideal ‘prey’ for newbies.

What You Need:

Florida saltwater fishing license. First things first, you need a Florida fishing license. Don’t skip this part -- it’s the law! You can purchase a license online, or stop in most bait & tackle shops to see an agent in person.
A boat. Although not strictly necessary, a fishing boat or pontoon can help you more easily catch prime scallops, since many live below the ocean surface and can be hard to spot if you’re wading from the coast. A boat can also make the day more enjoyable for a family with kids, since not everyone needs to snorkel to feel involved.
Snorkel gear. To reach those 8-foot depths, you’ll need a mask, goggles and fins.
Regulation dive flag. This is an important safety measure. You can rent a flat along with your snorkel gear.
Mesh bag. Did you know scallops can pinch? Carry them back in a mesh bag so you don’t find out the hard way!
Ice. Scallops need to go directly on ice to avoid potential contamination from drying out. Try to keep your scallops above any accumulating melt water with a cloth that can soak it up.
Sunscreen. Don’t forget to reapply once every few hours and after jumping in the water. A wide-brimmed hat and light-weight, long-sleeved shirt can also help you stay protected from the sun during peak hours.
First aid kit. You may also want to bring a bottle of white vinegar, which neutralizes the sting of jellyfish and other stinging animals.
Plenty of fresh water and snacks. Keep the whole family happy, hydrated and fed by packing a lunch.

If you choose to clean your scallops on the boat, you’ll also need a knife or spoon. However, we recommend waiting until you get back to your vacation home. You’ll have a chance to thoroughly wash your hands first, and all the utensils you’ll need to crack open your scallops.

Teenage girl sitting with her younger brother, enjoying at summer and having a fun while steering with yacht at sunset. They are very excited and happy
Divers showing off their catch, fish and sea â  â  urchin

Taking The Family

Scalloping season in Cape San Blas offers something for everyone, even if that something isn’t scalloping itself. This makes it an easy family activity to suit all ages and interests. While some members of your group might enthusiastically fill bag after bag of scallops, others might be content to soak up the sun and help from the sidelines. For most families, it’s more about time together on the water than the day’s haul.

Small children can feel involved by pointing out “good” spots on the water, helping to raise the dive flag, and counting the day’s catch. Once back at home, they can help pat-dry scallops clean.



Our Favorite Scallop Recipes:

Whether you collect your own buy yours fresh from the local market, you can try each of these tasty scallop recipes right in the kitchen of your Cape San Blas vacation home:

Fried scallops with butter lemon spicy sauce in cast-iron pan served with green salad and textile napkin over old dark metal background. Top view, space

Beyond Scalloping:

Miss the window for scalloping season? Florida’s forgotten coast is full of adventures on and off the water. Here are just a few must-try activities while vacationing in Cape San Blas:

Shelling. “In season” year-round, shelling is a great family-friendly alternative to scalloping that you can enjoy right from the beach. Better yet, you don’t need a license to collect.
Horseback Riding. Cape San Blas is the only destination in the United States that allows horseback riding on the beach, making it a truly special experience. Ride by moonlight along the sandy shores, or take in spectacular sunsets. Knowledgeable guides can customize your route to your experience.

Kayaking. With clear waters, open skies and a chance to spot dolphins, sea turtles and an array of fishy, you may never want to kayak St. Joseph’s Bay everyday of your vacation. For a change of scenery, the Dead Lakes and St. Joseph Peninsula State Park offer miles of kayaking in a tranquil setting amidst abundant wildlife.

Snorkeling. Even after scalloping season in Cape San Blas comes to a close, you can still get a front-row view of the creatures -- and many others -- with a guided snorkeling excursion. Head out with an experienced captain for a tour through waters filled with sea turtles, dolphins and more.