From humble beach shacks to high-end dining establishments, the food scene in the Caribbean is among the most exciting in the world. With this in mind, YachtCharterFleet rounds up six of the best Caribbean islands for culinary adventures aboard a luxury charter yacht.
A melting pot of cultures – from European and American to Asian and Middle Eastern – the Caribbean offers a vibrant, varied and flavour-packed cuisine, enhanced by freshly caught seafood, tropical fruits plucked straight from the vine and scores of tantalizing spices.
Home-grown specialities and far-flung influences set each island apart and, whether you’re after classical fine dining or a street food snack, the region has it covered.
To help you plan your next charter vacation, here is YachtCharterFleet’s guide to six of the best Caribbean islands for food-lovers to discover by superyacht.
1. PUERTO RICO
Puerto Rico has been carving out a reputation for itself as the culinary capital of the Caribbean in recent years and, combining Spanish, American and First Nation influences, its ever-evolving food scene is unlike any other in the region.
Pork and peppers feature heavily on dinner plates throughout the island, with roast pig on a spit a particular favourite. But yacht-goers after a more exclusive dining experience will not be disappointed with the choice of first-rate restaurants in the capital city of San Juan.
Spearheaded by Michelin-starred chef Juan Jose Cuevas is 1919 Restaurant, offering contemporary fine dining with locally sourced produce, while award-winning Augusto’s Cuisine is popular among the city’s elite and Santaella serves up modern Puerto Rican fare in industrial-chic surrounds.
Away from the city, tantalizing fried snacks – or frituras – can be sampled at roadside stalls and it’s definitely worth charterers stepping ashore to try out the coconut arepas, piononos (plantains filled with beef) and bacalaítos – a mixture of pancake dough and salted cod.
2. ST MARTIN
An island of two personalities, this gem of the Leeward Islands has a diverse array of dishes to sample from classical European cuisine to West Indian curries and, with more than 400 restaurants across its 37 square meters, the hard part will be deciding where to book a table.
Grand Case, located in the French part of Saint Martin, is home to many upscale waterfront restaurants, including the Bistrot Caraibes, where monster-size lobsters, smoked duck breast salad and braised red snapper with creamy saffron mussel sauce are bestsellers on the menu.
Delicious food thrives in the Dutch side of St Maartin too, with unmissable eateries in Cupecoy and Simpson Bay, and the numerous road-side barbecue stands known locally as lolos.
Don’t set sail without trying a tipple of the local Guavaberry liqueur, made from oak-aged rum, cane sugar and a rare berry harvested from bushes that grow in the central highlands of the island.
3. ST LUCIA
The French-inspired cuisine served in the elegant waterfront eateries of St Lucia is as spectacular as the surroundings, which is high praise considering the island’s spectacular natural beauty.
For a table with a view, try out the world-renowned restaurant Dasheene, where classic St Lucian dishes such as roast conch in a yam basket can be enjoyed against the stunning backdrop of the Pitons - the island’s twin peaks.
Or, take the tender to the Rainforest Hideaway, located in the idyllic conservation area of Marigot Bay. Boasting a menu of Creole infused European food, the magical waterside spot can only be accessed by boat – perfect for luxury yacht goers.
Despite a plethora of fine dining opportunities, discerning travellers should not shy away from local delicacies such as the national dish of salt fish and green fig – a stew of dried, salted codfish and boiled green banana
Classic St Lucian dishes such as roast conch in a yam basket can be enjoyed against the stunning backdrop of the Pitons
The award-winning dining scene on the tiny British isle of Anguilla has transformed from ‘culinary backwater to gastronomic paradise’ in recent years, satisfying the palates of the jetset subset who holiday here.
For an island of its size, there is a surprisingly large variety of cuisine on offer, ranging from some of the finest Italian and French food to five-star beach shacks serving freshly-caught grilled lobster and crayfish dripping with buttery sauces crafted from old family recipes.
Blanchards, an upscale eatery in Meads Bay, is renowned for its creative and eclectic menu, located nearby in Barnes Bay and a favourite thanks to its fish specialities is Mango’s, and Harbour Island’s Hibernia Restaurant and Art Gallery rustles up unorthodox yet delectable culinary pairings.
A thriving street food culture, however, is a mainstay of the island’s authenticity and local charm. Beachside barbecues and roadside carts cook up traditional local flavours such as an assortment of deep-fried fritters, soursop – also known as prickly custard apple - and Anguilla Johnny Cakes.
5. ST BARTS
As one of the world’s most chic and sophisticated destinations, it’s no surprise that St Barts is home to delectable, five-star dining. Most menus feature freshly caught fish and top-quality ingredients shipped in from Paris as well as sensational wine lists and classy cocktails.
The red-roofed capital of Gustavia is home to a fine selection of restaurants, including French establishment Le Sapotillier, the happening harbour-side offering La Guerite and Maya’s Restaurant, renowned among its celebrity clientele for its eclectic Creole cuisine.
Elsewhere, enjoy gourmet classics engineered by French chef Jean-Claude Dufour while overlooking the idyllic Baie de Saint Jean in eatery On the Rocks or order fresh seafood in Christian Liaigre-designed Le Restaurant des Pecheurs situated on the dreamy Grand Cul de Sac beach.
Reservations are a must over the Christmas period as is sampling the island’s signature drink. Named ‘ti punch’, the rum concoction is similar to a Brazilian Caipirinha.
Trinidad and Tabago offers a culinary adventure like no other, ensuring travellers never go hungry
6. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Trinidad and Tabago offers a culinary adventure like no other, ensuring travellers never go hungry. A rich mix of African, Indian, Chinese, European and Middle Eastern influences, the variety of food on offer is jam-packed with flavours and sure to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters.
The easily-accessible street food culture in Trinidad is arguably the best in the region, with freshly cooked fare ranging from roti, jerk meats and Creole corn soup to spicy chow dishes, coconut jelly and homemade ice cream.
Eat like a local and head to St James in the capital Port of Spain, which is abuzz with vendors selling their freshly cooked fare. If you’re after a more upmarket dining experience, however, try out the benchmark-setting Mediterranean restaurant Aioli, upscale Indian eatery Apsara or, for the best steaks and wine cellar on the island, Prime Restaurant.
Tobago likewise has its share of elite eateries, including Blue Crab Restaurant, which serves up hearty creole dishes, the romantic spot of Kariwak Village Restaurant or Italian La Tartaruga.