Best food-driven island vacation?
I have time for a quick trip to the Caribbean and I'm trying to get opinions on which island will offer the best culinary experiences.
I'm less in interested in fine dining restaurants but holes-in-the wall and food-related activities get a thumbs-up. All-inclusive buffet breakfasts are forbidden!
I briefly lived in Turks and Caicos, which boasted a conch farm and brewery - nothing huge but interesting enough. Martinique's rum distilleries also pique my interest. So I'm thinking along those lines...
Any ideas would be appreciated.
I have lived in two islands and traveled to about 15...I always find great food. St. Barths has a great reputation for great dining with a great price tag. Pick and island and the Chowhounders will guide you.
Hands down St Martin/StMaarten, the island has everything and so many restaurants to choose from.
I just came from St. Martin and although there were lots and lots of wonderful choices, there is also some dreck (mostly on the Dutch side). I think St. Barths has a greater percentage of really wonderful restaurants so the chances of you having a miss-step are slimmer.
The French/Caribbean's really know their stuff!
Update on T&C; the conch farm was burned to the ground in the midst of a scandalous love triangle, by the ...nevermind. For future Turks (Provo) visitors, the lobster packing plant will sell to you cheap and fresh whole spiny lobsters or tails when the boats return after 4 pm.
Best island for grub? This is vote #3 for St. Martin. I´m in Cozumel now and somehow it is not the same since the storms of 2004.
Take the road toward Sapodilla off the Leeward highway (just east of the airport), left at the petrol station (you are now heading toward the south dock) and bear left at the unpaved road and follow it to the end. It´s a neat place where you can watch all the lobster fishermen bring in their catch where it is weighed, tails are removed, bagged, and frozen. You can buy the day´s catch before it reaches the freezer. A rare good value on an expensive island!
St Barths has no holes in walls that I found! Very pricey. It is funny people mention St Martin. I think I had the best Indian/Caribbean fusion (Conch vindaloo anyone?) food in my life at a little dive on the Dutch side...all washed down with $1 Carib beers. I wish I remember where. I am headed to Puerto Rico soon and am hearing the roadside/street/seaside shack food scene is awesome...monfongo, roast pig, lobster. oh my. Bourdain just threw gasoline on the fire a couple weeks ago with a show featuring PR. While not my first choice to visit, I am going to find some great eats. My experience generally has been the more modest/humble islands have the best food (ie St. Barths and Grand Cayman have not scored the highest points in my book). I politely ask cabbies, policia you name it, for their fav recommendations. I have made some amazing finds in the Caribbean that way. Now that I am a chowhounder I am stepping up my documentation so I can share with others (and also return, I hope!) I agree you should narrow it down and let the recommendations flow.