Summertime on Florida’s Adventure Coast means scalloping. Slipping into bathwater-warm Gulf of Mexico waters at the first sight of those shells shimmering beneath brings a surge of joy unlike any other. The eagerness of discovery and success at grabbing them as they zig zag through the clear water is enough to bring giggles, whatever your age.
Eagerly anticipated, Florida bay scallop harvest season is from July 1 through September 24. And because Florida’s Adventure Coast marks the southern border of the full season harvest range, it’s an easily accessible drive from nearby Tampa and points south.
There are numerous lodging choices minutes from our marinas and boat ramps, many with room for boat trailer parking.
Fun and family-friendly, here is just one example of how to enjoy a summertime stay and play scalloping on Florida’s Adventure Coast.
As a first-timer – or to serve as a refresher – view these helpful scalloping overviews:
Excitement makes getting up early a given. Power up with a hearty breakfast at Thousand Island Café, 3438 Commercial Way in Spring Hill. Open for breakfast and lunch, they specialize in a wide menu of affordable morning favorites and friendly service. After breakfast, head from the restaurant over to the Hernando Beach boat ramp or Bayport boat ramp, dependent upon your charter service. Both are about ten minutes away.
You have chosen a simple and sure way to enjoy scalloping. By selecting a charter service from among those listed under Scalloping, you’re assured a memorable day on the water. All you and your family need to do is show up at the appointed time and place. Arrive swim suited up with a shady hat and plenty of sunscreen.
You’ll get hungry out on the water so bring some lunch and snacks on board. Also, be sure to bring your own cooler with ice to take your catch with you. Hiring a charter guide means the Captain will furnish your fishing license and gear. Just step aboard and go!
Recommended is to bring your own snorkel, mask and fins. Don’t have your own with you? Some charter services furnish that gear as well. Discuss that when you book your trip.
Back on shore, shuck and clean the scallops. Many charter captains will show you how or do this for you. Always keep your shucked and cleaned scallops on ice.
Head back to your lodging for a nice cool dip in the pool and a shower, maybe even a nap.
After your fun first day in hot sunshine, top off your evening with a visit to nearby Marker48 Brewingat 12147 Cortez Boulevard, Weeki Wachee. Sit back; listen to live music and pick your favorite among ice-cold, award winning craft brews. Cheers!
Check out another favorite of craft beer enthusiasts: Tidal Brewing at 14311 Spring Hill Drive. Their popular hand-crafted tap list includes ales, lagers, stouts and other thirst quenching surprises.
You saw how many scallops were waiting down there on the sandy bottom yesterday. It was so fun and you caught your two gallon daily limit so quickly that you just have to go out again; it’s like a treasure hunt and so much more treasure awaits!
Maybe this time you will go to the same lucky spot or perhaps scout out a different one. The lush seagrass and clear water habitat encompasses all near shore areas of the Adventure Coast. Current weather and water conditions mean scallop abundance in water as shallow as five feet.
Spot promising areas from above by looking carefully for the well-camouflaged shells rimmed with bright blue eyes. Wearing polarized sunglasses helps.
For this second day, you have reserved a boat from one of the Hernando Beach marinas under Boating. You and your family are ready to go self-guided today.
Familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations concerning per person and per vessel bag limits, as stated on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
You have also ensured that all aboard age sixteen and over hold a current Florida Saltwater Fishing license. Information on the different license types with the option to purchase online can be found here. Fishing licenses can be purchased from any area Walmart, sporting goods store or marina.
Today, when you arrived at the marina, you brought a few more items with you. Besides your fishing licenses, you have the required Diver Down flag, mesh bags for underwater collecting, a cooler with ice, plenty of water, food and towels. Here is a helpful Adventure Coast Scalloping brochure that includes a coastal map for reference.
Maybe most important of all – beyond the official requirements – is a camera. Capture all the fun moments of your summertime scalloping adventure to keep and share. Post them to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. We love to share too!
By now, you are ready to savor your bounty. Take your cleaned scallops on ice to one of these Hernando Beach and Weeki Wachee restaurants to cook your catch. Each will prepare your scallops to order matched up with sides. These small morsels deliver large flavor, made even more delicious thanks to being fresh-caught by you. Be sure and call ahead to the restaurant since “catch and cook” is a popular area dinner option. Here is a list of some “You Catch It. We Cook It.” establishments.
Consider booking the boat rental and lodging for a longer stay. Browse for more about Nature’s Place to Play at FloridasAdventureCoast.com.