Updated: Sep 4, 2019
Whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or a longer stay, Florida’s Sports Coast is exactly what you didn’t know you were looking for, but everything you need for a real-life escape! The destination is located just north of Tampa – and ideally situated on the beloved Gulf of Mexico – making for a prime location for scalloping!
Scallops are a popular seafood dish that come in a variety of sizes ranging from bite-sized pieces to up to 2 inches in diameter. The tasty, ivory colored meat is usually pan seared or baked and has a similar taste to crab or lobster.
How to Scallop!
A good day of scalloping begins early in the morning, head out to the gulf with a local guide such as Mermaid Slayers and look for a shallow spot to anchor. Some favor a rash guard, because you will be swimming around in loose seaweed with your back exposed to the sun. Put your flippers, goggles, and snorkel on and you’re ready to begin! A scallop has a hard outer protective shell and you can find them hiding in tall grass underwater. Their dark outer shells mask the scallop well, so look for their piercing blue “eyes.” Scoop them up and keep them in a bucket of water until you get to shore. They can be difficult to find (some compare the sport to an underwater Easter egg hunt), but once you find the first few, your eye tends to spot them much easier so don’t get discouraged if it takes you awhile!
The most special and unforgettable night was planned after our scalloping adventure. Florida’s Sports Coast set up a unique dinner at one of the famed Stilt Houses (which was struck by lightning in 2018, burned down, and was rebuilt within just a few months) with a local chef preparing our dinner.
This was actually my first time tasting scallops so I was a little nervous, but the team from Benedetto’s prepared a ceviche dish and steamed scallops with parmesan, garlic, and butter, which made them delicious. The smell alone was amazing and the scallops just melted in my mouth! What was really neat was that all the scallops cooked were what we had caught earlier that day, making it an authentic “Catch & Cook” dinner. It was truly an unforgettable evening with beautiful views, amazing food, and even better company.
Overall, the scalloping experience is so unique and off the beaten path that I would do it again in a heartbeat. You become so focused on searching for the scallops and basking in the silence of the gulf that any problems or worries you have float away. It was truly one of the most relaxing and fun filled trips I've had in a long time!
While you’re on shore don’t miss these hot spots!
Where to Stay
With only a 10-minute drive from the water, you can expect recently updated rooms, free breakfast, and happy hour!
Where to Eat
A local wine and craft beer bar and restaurant with the best charcuterie boards in the city!
Cool off with a some delicious ice cream from Ottaway‘s and a walk around orange lake at nearby Sims Park!
Want a waterfront table with a great menu and beautiful view? Look no further! Be sure to try the alligator bites!
Relive your childhood at this vintage arcade bar that has old school pinball and arcade machines that will keep you there for hours!
Visit Florida's Sports Coast to plan your scalloping 2020 scalloping adventure!
Written with love from Florida's Sports Coast,