This New Orleans Day Trip is a Must for Oyster Lovers


Regenerative efforts are bringing back the iconic oyster industry in the Big Easy. Experience it for yourself with an immersive tour that lets you harvest, shuck and slurp your own.

The oyster earrings give her away. Barbara Johnson, founder of Great Delta Tours, a tour group committed to a positive impact on the planet, ushers me into a van bound for the Southern Seaplane airport. The fog lifts as we leave the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans and head to Belle Chasse.

We’re going to Grand Isle, Louisiana’s last inhabited barrier island. The seaplane roars to life with me in the co–pilot seat, a blue heron watches from the riverbank. The skies are moody flying over the waterways, with brief streaks of sunlight shining through the clouds. Wide swathes of green land covered by shrubs and moss punctuate the glassy water. Dilapidated Civil War boats half sunk and remnants of forts jut out from the water, and a Filipino village from the 1930s sits abandoned in the marsh.

April 3, 2024
A booth at the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans below a painting of herrings and other native birds
Grand Isle on a cloudy day in Louisiana
Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans
Grand Isle, Louisiana

Hurricane Ida swept through Grand Isle in 2021 as a Category 4 storm and dealt the final blow on the community’s already declining lifeblood – its oyster beds. These oysters historically supplied many New Orleans restaurants. Ryan Anderson, known as Oyster Daddy, started Little Moon Oyster Ranch in 2022 to begin rebuilding oyster culture in Grand Isle and restore the local oyster source for New Orleans restaurants. Rather than harvesting wild oysters, Anderson and a small group of oystermen grow them in off–bottom bags. Their work rebalances the delicate ecosystem of the keystone species’ harvest grounds.

Anderson grew up on the Potomac River in a family of water people. He worked in restaurants in New York City, where he also gained his sommelier credentials. When he moved to New Orleans in 2018, he started going to Grand Isle to fish and hang out on the water. In 2022, he planted his first spat (oyster seed), and in April 2023, he harvested his first batch of Little Moon oysters.

Soft–spoken, hanging off the side of the boat in a rolled–down wetsuit, Anderson explains how farmed oysters are helping to rebuild the ecosystem in this hurricane–ravaged area. He points out schools of mullet and triple tail swimming around our boat and describes the role the oyster plays in marine life here. Oyster farmers take nothing from the environment they work in, but the clean water, diverse marine life, and healthy landscape can be attributed to the mighty bivalves they plant each season.

Ryan Anderson of Little Moon Oyster Ranch on a boat inspecting an oyster net
Ryan Anderson, Little Moon Oyster Ranch     Photo: Carrie Honaker
A blue gloved hand holding two fresh oysters
Little Moon Oyster Ranch     Photo: Carrie Honaker

“These farmed oysters celebrate authentic Louisiana and help build a more resilient community,” Anderson says.

We’re taken through a typical day of flipping cages, tumbling oysters and checking gear as he pulls fresh oysters out for us to try our hand at shucking (and tasting).

After a short seaplane ride and shuttle ride, the hotel hosts the grand finale: a wine and oyster pairing at Chemin à la Mer, led by a shucker and sommelier, where I’m taught to spot the nuanced differences in flavour depending on region. Slurp by slurp, it’s the ideal end to my oyster immersion.

When You Go

New Orleans

The Four Seasons Hotel bar in New Orleans features large green plants and plenty of natural light
Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans   Photo: courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans

Where to Stay

Opened in 2021, the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans is a must–book spot for the Oysters Take Flight Experience as well as other immersive guest experiences, but also its dramatic Chandelier Bar, ultra–chic spa, bevy of local art, and feeling of sanctuary amid the bustle of The Crescent City. Two signature restaurants by James Beard Award–winning chefs Alon Shaya and Donald Link add to the menu with Shaya’s Miss River, a love letter to Louisiana, and Link’s Chemin à la Mer, with its grand oyster bar and sweeping views of the Mississippi, a river that shaped New Orleans’ culinary melting pot. Don't leave without sipping a signature Hurricane cocktail on the 5th–floor rooftop pool deck, surrounded by lush tropical foliage.

Oysters with marinara and lemon from Pêche in New Orleans
Pêche patrons sitting at the bar below a large illustration of a fish
Pêche   Photos: Link Restaurant Group

What to Do

Pêche, located on Magazine Street in the Warehouse District, works with local fishers and farmers who harvest sustainably. Sidle up to the oyster bar for the full show as busy shuckers blaze through piles of bivalves. This is a seafood mecca, so if you’re hungry for something more, don't miss the whole fish grilled or roasted in a live hardwood fire — rustic, simple and delicious.

Sidecar Patio & Oyster Bar, another Warehouse District hot spot, has a lush courtyard and 2nd–floor patio where they serve up a wide selection of farm–raised oysters with their house mignonette, horseradish, hot sauce and lemon slices. The best part? They provide an oyster guide that gives information about where they are grown, from flavour profiles to salinity levels.

Ryan Anderson hosts oyster pop–ups at Faubourg Wines and Tell Me Bar, where he discusses New Orleans’s oyster history and harnesses his sommelier background for pairing tips.