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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.

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  1. 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.

    1. Hands down St Martin/StMaarten, the island has everything and so many restaurants to choose from.

      1. 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!

        1. 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.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            Wow, sorry to hear about the conch farm. I was just on Provo in January - love the T&C!!! Thanks for the tip on the lobster, will have to get some next time I'm there. Is the lobster packing plant near the conch farm?

            1. re: chowmeow

              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!

          2. 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.

            1. Anguilla is likely the best island for dining in the Caribbean. Must try the new restaurant Veya in Sandy Ground area. Fabulous food and lovely restaurant. I could name 15 or so top restaurants at various prices, but most fine dining restaurants are in the $20-$30 entree category.

              1. Anquilla and St. Barts may have some of the "best" food in the caribbean, but hardly the most authentic or inexpensive. As stated above, St. Martin would give you a good mix. Also, do some research on Jamaica and Trinidad for local hole-in-the-wall-barefoot-with-a-$1-Carib type cuisine.

                1. I heard from a Grenadan friend that Trinidad had the best food in the Caribbean hands-down. She could cook too, so I respect her recommendations.. There would be upteen hole-in-the-wall places in Trinidad for sure.

                  1. Rory, I suspect the local cuisines in Trini are diverse and delish. I love Roti and a few other local foods common in T and T. I wonder if there are many hi end gourmet dining spots such as found in St. Barths and other islands. Those islands are tourist driven focusing on a different consumer. Trinidad is not a beach destination. The bulk of their tourists are nature lovers, bird watchers and folks heading to the sister island, Tobago. Local food is great....

                    1. I have to agree about St. Martin / Sint Maarten. You can spend very little or spend a lot and have many outstanding options. The great thing is that most "neighborhoods" offer almost too many choices for both. For example, Cul de Sac, Grand Case, and Marigot all offer memorable, diverse food, and they are only one part of the island.

                      1. As I sit with with a belly full of monfongo I'm beginning to wonder if Puerto Rico is the answer. They like their food here.

                        1. Don't overlook Barbados.....good dining scene there.

                          1. Might be a bit late - but you have to try Trinidad if you love food. They have the greatest diversity in the Caribbean - food with Indian, African, Middle Eastern, European, Chinese origins - all tweaked over time to suit local tastes. There's some really great stuff there!