28 Local Must-Eat Foods on a Caribbean Cruise

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Who doesn’t love to eat!? We have the list of island specialties every cruiser has to try at least once. For those who want to truly experience the islands, this is how you can eat like a local.



Antiguan Fricassee of Saltfish

Credit photo by Christina Xu | CC BY

1. Antiguan Fricassee of Saltfish

A delicious meal that includes codfish and a ton of fresh vegetables; locally, it is called Bullyjoy, and it is full of zest!



Native flounder dish in Aruba

2. Seafood Served Scavechi Style

This is an island where seafood rules, so expect to find freshly caught fish on nearly every menu. Savor local mahi-mahi or red snapper, often prepared scavechi (Creole) style: marinated then pan-fried and served with a garden-style tomato sauce. Food in Aruba is best enjoyed while dining at a beachside table with your toes in the sand and a cocktail in your hand.



Seafood Cou Cou in Barbados
Credit photo by stu_spivack | CC BY

3. Cou Cou

Don’t miss the chance to sample the local Bajan specialty of flying fish with cou cou (a popular cornmeal and okra dish) at Bridgetown’s Careenage Marina, Ryanne’s Restaurant downtown, or at any one of the roadside huts and beachfront bars on the island. At the Grantley Adams International Airport, they are as popular as cheeseburgers.



Tamales boiled to perfection and covered in a fried maize shell in Belize.

4. Caldo

Dig into a caldo — a famous Mayan dish similar to one featuring a tortilla wrapped around shredded meat or beans. Slather everything with a tangy onion sauce and you’ll be eating like a true Belizean.


Bermuda – King’s Wharf

Golden Brown Rum Cake in King's Wharf, Bermuda.

5. Rum Cake

By far, the best dessert in Bermuda is rum cake, and you will find many variations all over the island. One of the best places to try it is the Bermuda Rum Cake Company, located in the Royal Naval Dockyard. The bakery’s rum cakes are made exclusively with Bermuda Black Seal Rum in flavors that include banana, coffee, coconut and other flavors. The cake shop shares a building with the Dockyards Glassworks, where you can watch artisans blow beautiful glassware while you sample the rum cakes.



Goat Stew
Credit photo by Connie Ma | CC BY

6. Kabritu Stoba

You will see plates with goat popping up throughout the Caribbean. This is one of our favorite stews. It is made with goat and vegetables and is served with a hearty sauce and sometimes rice.



Arroz Con Coco in Cartagena
Credit photo by Neeta Lind | CC BY

7. Arroz Con Coco

Rice with coconut (arroz con coco) is a signature side dish in Cartagena, although we would be happy to eat it as our entrée. You can find it on virtually every menu, but we particularly love Salou’s version of the Caribbean rice. That and the trilogy of ceviches make a perfect meal.


Costa Maya

Guacamole in Costa Maya
Credit photo by lynch_m_j | CC BY

8. Guacamole

This may seem obvious, but you have not had guacamole until you have had it made table side in Mexico. Even better, you can choose how you like it. Extra onions, extra spicy, please!



Credit photo by Stephan Mosel | CC BY

9. Mixed Quesadillas

One of our favorite local places in Cozumel is Pancho’s Backyard, where you can find some of Cozumel’s best quesadillas. There are two locations: one on the Puerto Maya Pier and one downtown. So it doesn’t matter where you are docked, you can taste some amazing local Mexican food.



Half Moon Ostrich Burger w/ American Cheese and Mushrooms

10. Ostrich Burger

Curaҫao locals and Dutch visitors will eat just about any kind of animal protein — and in preparations that would send US restaurant regulators into conniptions. Ostrich tartare, for example. If that’s too extreme for you, how about an ostrich steak or ostrich burger? There’s an ostrich farm on Curaҫao, so the bird often shows up on local menus.



Roti in Dominica

Credit photo by Justin | CC BY

11. Roti

Dominica pulls from both Creole and British cultures and brings some delicious dishes to the table. In Dominica, you will find roti (which is similar to flatbread) filled with curried potato.


Chicken Drumsticks with spicy Jerky rub on a grill in Falmouth, Jamaica.

12. Jerk Chicken

Perhaps no food evokes the spirit of Jamaica more than jerk, the spicy rub that gives chicken and pork their get up and go, thanks to a pimento spice mix and Scotch bonnet chili peppers. Our favorite spot to get it is Scotchie’s, although wonderful jerk can be found in lots of places.



Baked crab cakes with slices of limes in Freeport.

13. Grouper

A local favorite and must-try dish is grouper, served battered, sautéed or steamed in a spicy Creole sauce. Since it is a mild-tasting fish, it’s often prepared with several seasonings.


Grand Cayman

Tikka masala also known as butter chicken in Grand Cayman
Credit photo by Miikka H | CC BY

14. Indian Food

If you are a fan of tikka masala (butter chicken) and the crunchy papadum, you must visit Sunset House in Grand Cayman. It might be strange to accept that some of the tastiest Indian food is from a Caribbean Island, but believe us, you will not be disappointed.


Grand Turk

Fried hominy in Grand Turk
Credit photo by Edsel Little | CC BY


15. Peas and Hominy

Many Grand Turk menus have been updated to include peas and rice, but the most traditional food is peas and hominy: pigeon peas, hominy (corn that is pre-treated in an alkali solution or lime juice to soften the hull), conch and, sometimes, pig tail. Definitely not a vegetarian dish…



Local curried Goat in Grenada
Credit photo by bob walker | CC BY

16. Curried Goat

As you walk through this tiny port you will find BB’s Crabback right on the water. It’s a gorgeous view with an even better plate of food. Those who have tried the curried goat take cruises back to Grenada just for this dish.


Key West

Chocolate dipped frozen key lime pie on a stick in Key West

17. Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Key Lime Pie on a Stick

We bet you’ve tried Key lime pie before, BUT have you had it dipped in chocolate on a stick!? The locals in Key West know how to satisfy a sweet tooth. Grab extra napkins for this one.


Montego Bay

Dry rub BBQ ribs in Montego Bay, Jamaica
Credit photo by Gloria Cabada-Leman | CC BY

18. BBQ Ribs

Head over to Bigg’s BBQ for some of the yummiest BBQ you will have on your trip. For their BBQ, Biggs has their own special dry rub, which is unlike anything else.



Several conch fritters encircling zesty sauce at Oh Andros Restaurant in Nassau

19. Conch Fritters

Conch (pronounced “konk”)  is a mollusk with firm white meat. Locals love it as a snack, but it’s also delicious in chowders, salads or even as deep-fried fritters.


Ocho Rios

Jamaica's natinal dish, Akee ‘n’ Saltfish in Ochos Rios
Credit photo by Gail Frederick | CC BY

20. Akee ‘n’ Saltfish

Don’t miss akee ’n’ saltfish, the national dish. The akee is a native Jamaican fruit that tastes, honestly, like scrambled eggs. Saltfish is salted cod. The two go together to make a buttery, salty treat that’s perfect for breakfast and is best served with a cup of Blue Mountain Coffee, Jamaica’s king of beans.



 Tapao, a seafood soup, in Roatan
Credit photo by Mokeneco | CC BY

21. Tapao

Seafood is the main ingredient in many dishes in Roatan. One of our favorites is tapao, a seafood soup filled with lobster, crab, fish, shrimp, squid and conch and cooked in coconut cream with plantain slices.


St. Croix

Mussels in garlic sauce in St. Croix
Credit photo by Quinn Dombrowski | CC BY

22. Mussels

As with many of the Caribbean islands, you will have some of the freshest seafood you have ever tasted in your life on St. Croix. Try the mussels in a white wine and garlic sauce.


San Juan

Local shrimp mofongo in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Credit photo by Eugene Kim | CC BY

23. Cocina criolla

In San Juan, cocina criolla is a must-eat Spanish Creole cooking style. This local cuisine reflects centuries of cultural influences in Puerto Rico. Don't miss bacalaitos (codfish fritters) and the famous mofongo. Mofongo is made of tostones (deep-fried green plantains), which are mashed with olive oil, garlic, spice blends and meat.


St. Kitts

Spicy curried oxtail with rice in St. Kitts
Credit photo by julie corsi | CC BY

24. Curried Oxtail

Another island that offers some amazing spicy food is St. Kitts. The stew made from curried oxtail can be prepared in a couple of different ways but will be found on many of the menus in St. Kitts.


St. Lucia

Acca, or fish cakes, in St. Lucia
Credit photo by stu_spivack | CC BY

25. Acca

St. Lucian cuisine is a mix between Creole and French, with some West Indian influence. Accra is a fun dish that puts a twist on the crab cakes you know from home. This fish cake is made with salted cod and spices and is sure to satisfy.


St. Maarten

Local favorite, beef patty, in St. Maarten
Credit photo by Jason Lam | CC BY

26. Patties

These flavorful pastry pockets can be filled with beef, chicken or fish and are the easiest snack to pick up while sightseeing and shopping around St. Maarten.


St. Thomas

Callaloo seafood soup in St. Thomas
Credit photo by Alpha | CC BY

27. Callaloo Soup

The callaloo leaf is a plant used for a variety of stews and soups, and in St. Thomas you will find it paired with okra and seafood to make a thick soup. It is a simple and delicious dish and something you will want to recreate at home.



Johnnycake, similar to a seafood pancake, in Tortola
Credit photo by Dale Cruse | CC BY

28. Johnnycake

This is very similar to a pancake, but one that has a Caribbean flair. There are many different variations of this dish, but it usually consists of deep-fried cornmeal that is stuffed with seafood. It is definitely a must-try snack in the Caribbean.


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