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Hidden Gems/Must do's in South Beach, Cozumel, Cayman, Ocho Rios, Florida Keys

Please Help!!! I'm heading to;

Miami South Beach (for 3 days, then on a seven day cruise stopping at)
Cozumel (1 Day)
Cayman (1 Day)
Ocho Rios (1 Day)
Florida Keys (Driving down from Miami for 3 days, and will be in Key West for 2 days)

I love ANY cuisine, from simple home cooking to elaborate and creative, and always prefer to try the local cuisine when traveling. Would really love good inexpensive seafood recommendations. Please list any must try dishes!!!

I am also a huge ice cream fan... so any gelato shop recommendations are appreciated!!!

Thanks in advance!!!

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  1. Hmmmm - just noticed that this board seems dedicated to Bermuda/Bahamas...

    Anyone have any suggestions on where this should be posted if not here?

    1. On Grand Cayman don't miss Wellie's Cool Spot. Few tourists know about it, and the food is great. Prices are WAAAY below those of the tourist traps, too. Even though it's the most expensive item on the menu, try the Lobster Cayman-style. It's fantastic, big enough to share, and still priced at less than half any other restaurant on the island!

      15 Replies
      1. re: Anne

        Awesome - thanks Anne, exactly what I'm looking for! Absolutely love lobster. I'm from way North West (Calgary about an hour east of Vancouver by plane)

        Wellies Cool Spot is on my Agenda! is it easy to find?

        Answering my own question: http://www.caymangoodtaste.com/restau...

        1. re: MartinT

          "is it easy to find?"
          Sorry---but no! It's nowhere near the tourist/cruise dock area. I'd suggest you take a cab there. If you are driving yourself, just ask any local how to get there.
          Here's another set of reviews:
          http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...

            1. re: MartinT

              Terrific place, but indeed hard to find. I went with a "local" (well, Canadian expat, I had the curried goat). I also love Calypso Grill, which is comparatively far more expensive (but not as expensive as some of the SMB places - it's at Morgan's Harbour).

              1. re: Friend of Bill

                Thanks Friend of Bill
                I found a few links that provide directions and even a menu's for both!

                Wellies Cool Spot:
                http://caygirl.wordpress.com/2009/07/...

                Calypso Grill:
                http://www.calypsogrillcayman.com/

                1. re: MartinT

                  If you do end up at Calypso Grill, try the sticky toffee pudding for dessert!

                  1. re: Friend of Bill

                    Sounds great Friend of Bill...
                    (lucky Bill!)

                    I enjoy seeking out establishments just to try an amazing dish.

                    Was in Victoria BC earlier this year and went to a spot that was recommended for an amazing appetizer - Bacon wrapped almond stuffed Dates served on crumbled blue cheese with a reduced balsamic vinaigrette.... hard to describe how all the flavors complimented each other so well - it was way amazing!!!

                    1. re: MartinT

                      Are there no hidden Gems in South Beach or Cozumel?

                      I have summarized recommendations provided to date as follows but still need help!
                      Leaving in 3 weeks!

                      SOUTH BEACH
                      No hidden gems? (yet!)

                      COZUMEL
                      No hidden gems? (yet!)

                      JAMAICA OCHO RIOS
                      • EVITA'S ($10 taxi) Fish specify head & tail off, Not saucy stuff) http://www.evitasjamaica.com
                      • COCONUTS (Walk) Oxtail w/best coconut Rice N' Peas, Red Pea/Pepperpot soups, Ackee/w Bacon http://www.coconutsrestaurantbarjamai...
                      • ICE CREAM fresh coconut, mango in supermarket, J'can brand "Dairy Maid', J'can ice cream bar called "Devon..Tropical Treats"
                      • John Crow Bar - People watch, OK food http://www.jamaicaislandpass.com/node/2

                      GRAND CAYMAN
                      • Wellie's Cool Spot Great prices - Share Lobster Cayman-style http://reviews.ky/2009/07/01/wellys-c...
                      • Calypso Grill at Morgan's Harbour (slightly more $) try sticky toffee pudding http://www.calypsogrillcayman.com/

                      FLORIDA KEYS
                      www.ziggieandmaddogs.com best steakhouse pricey
                      www.ballyhoosrestaurant.com reasonable food/prices
                      Key West
                      • Blonde Giraffe - Chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick http://www.blondgiraffe.com/
                      • Bar (name? next to the Scarletts strip club) best Key Lime Coladas
                      • Guy Harvey's grilled Mahi Sandwich http://www.guyharveysislandgrill.net/
                      • La Te Da on Duval. (Chef Alice Weingarten) http://www.lateda.com/
                      • Santiago's Bodega http://www.santiagosbodega.com/
                      • 915 (James Beard Award) http://www.915duval.com/
                      • Blue Heaven for breakfast www.blueheavenkw.homestead.com
                      • El Siboney for some Cuban www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com

                      1. re: MartinT

                        OK - after a few updates still no Hidden Gems for Cozumel - Are there no hidden Gems in Cozumel?

                        I have summarized recommendations provided to date as follows but still need help!
                        Leaving in 2.5 weeks! I like to make a map up a of all recommended places and then carry it with me

                        COZUMEL
                        No hidden gems? (yet!)

                        SOUTH BEACH
                        • Talula (best rest in SoBe?)
                        • Martarello
                        • El Chalan
                        • Puerto sagua
                        • Barbu
                        • Falafel place Washington between 10th&11th,
                        • Las Olas Cuban (sandwich) 644 6th, 4th
                        • P Italian 1251 Washington Ave
                        • Jimmyz (mofongo Fridays) 1542 Alton,
                        • Frieze Ice Cream 1626 Michigan Ave off Lincoln Mall
                        North of SoBe;
                        • Indomania
                        • Creek 28

                        JAMAICA OCHO RIOS
                        • Evita’s ($10 taxi) Fish specify head & tail off, Not saucy stuff) http://www.evitasjamaica.com
                        • Coconuts (Walk) Oxtail w/best coconut Rice N' Peas, Red Pea/Pepperpot soups, Ackee/w Bacon http://www.coconutsrestaurantbarjamai...
                        • Ice cream - fresh coconut, mango in supermarket, J'can brand "Dairy Maid', J'can ice cream bar called "Devon..Tropical Treats"
                        • John Crow Bar - People watch, OK food http://www.jamaicaislandpass.com/node/2

                        GRAND CAYMAN
                        • Wellie's Cool Spot Great prices - Share Lobster Cayman-style http://reviews.ky/2009/07/01/wellys-c...
                        • Calypso Grill at Morgan's Harbour (slightly more $) try sticky toffee pudding http://www.calypsogrillcayman.com/

                        FLORIDA KEYS
                        www.ziggieandmaddogs.com best steakhouse pricey
                        www.ballyhoosrestaurant.com reasonable food/prices
                        BigPine Keys - http://www.nonamepub.com/
                        Square Grouper on O'seas Highway.
                        Funky Keys - Alabama Jacks Key Largo on Card Sound Road

                        KEY WEST
                        • Blonde Giraffe - Chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick http://www.blondgiraffe.com/
                        • Bar (name? next to the Scarletts strip club) best Key Lime Coladas
                        • Guy Harvey's grilled Mahi Sandwich http://www.guyharveysislandgrill.net/
                        • La Te Da on Duval. (Chef Alice Weingarten) http://www.lateda.com/
                        • Santiago's Bodega http://www.santiagosbodega.com/
                        • 915 (James Beard Award) http://www.915duval.com/
                        • Blue Heaven for breakfast www.blueheavenkw.homestead.com
                        • El Siboney for some Cuban www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com
                        • Dions Fried Chicken/Jamaican Patties Truman & White Citgo gas station

                        1. re: MartinT

                          I know Cozumel pretty well over 21 years. What hours will you dock there, and would you rent a jeep or moped(s)? Options are limited and unremarkable within walking distance from the ship/ tender docks.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Hey Veggo,

                            We are in Cozumel from 8am-10pm a full day Monday and yes, we planned on renting Mopeds (or some other motorized transportation) and doing as much of the island as possible...

                            1. re: MartinT

                              The cruise ship docks are about 2 miles south of San Miguel, the town center. They can handle 4 boats. Everything around them is pure tourist crap. Others anchor, and tender boats bring passengers to the ferry dock in San Miguel. I have seen as many as 7 ships in Cozumel at the same time. My favorites around San Miguel: I always have breakfast at Las Palmeras, the free-standing resto near the dock. Huevos motulenos and fresh fruit plate are excellent. It's been there forever. Plaza Leza on the south side of the square has comfortable outside covered seating, and good queso fundito with chorizo, excellent grilled conch (caracol al mojo de ajo), and very good margaritas- they squeeze limes all day long. Two blocks east is La Choza, the best authentic mayan restaurant in the area. Very good mole and cochinita pibil, it's signature dishes. Stiff upright chairs don't make you want to linger for hours. 5 blocks north (8th st. between 10-15 aves) is La Cocay, the best fine dining on the island.
                              15 miles south of town on the ring road, which was very well restored after hurricane Wilma, is the Paradise Cafe, aka Bob's Marley bar, just past the turnoff to the Punta Celerain lighthouse, and the beginning of the windward side. Best conch ceviche anywhere, hammocks, a few tables by the rugged ironstone shore, cold beer and big waves crashing. A few miles north on the windward side is Playa Bonita, similar fare, and kite surfers if it's windy. A few more miles north is coconuts, up on a bit of a bluff, and with great views and fun for drinks and light fare. The ring road cuts across the island back to San Miguel a couple miles further north. There is a small mayan ruin you can visit on the road across the island. You have time for a nice day there - buen provecho!

                              1. re: Veggo

                                Awesome this is the best post ever Veggo,Thanks so much!!!

                                This will make our stop in port one of the most memorable along with the 50 others I will share this with on our "roll call" muchas gracias!

                                1. re: MartinT

                                  Island Grille in Islamorada ...very cool area of the Keys

                        2. re: MartinT

                          My favorite places in Key West....

                          Any where Michael McCloud is playing last time I was there is was Run Runners

                          Half Shell Raw Bar

                          Kelly's Carribbean Bar and Grill

                          As much as it is a Tourist Trap you have to say you have at least had a drink in there .... Hog's Breath Saloon

        2. Nevermind; it appears you have 2 parallel threads a day apart.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            Hey there Veggo, yes - I have posted in 2 locations to cover all the different stops we hit...

            and of course I'm missing Cozumel recommend still (I probably should have posted in 3 different locations including Mexico... was hoping I could pick up recommends for Cozumel uner the Caribbean board!

            1. re: MartinT

              Thanks to all who posted, I now have put together a list of places to carry with me on the cruise to help on our adventures!

              SOUTH BEACH
              • Talula (best rest in SoBe?) www.talulaonline.com 210 23 St Miami Beach Lunch 10-2pm Dinner 10:30pm
              • Martarello Italian Bakery 1450 Washington Ave
              • El Chalan Seafood 7971 SW 40th St Miami
              • Puerto sagua Cuban 700 Collins Ave., Miami Beach 7:30-2:00am
              • Barbu Organic Tapas 1935 west avenue #102 @ 20th street Miami Beach
              • Falafel place Washington between 10th&11th
              • Las Olas Cuban (sandwich) 644 6th, 4th
              • P Italian 1251 Washington Ave
              • Jimmyz (mofongo Fridays) 1542 Alton, www.jimmyzkitchen.com
              • Frieze Ice Cream 1626 Michigan Ave off Lincoln Mall
              North of SoBe;
              • Indomania www.indomaniarestaurant.com
              • Creek 28 2727 Indian creek drive www.creek28.com

              COZUMEL (Around cruise ship docs = crap) San Miguel
              • Las Palmas breakfast - free-standing resto near dock. Huevos motulenos and fresh fruit plate are excellent.
              • Plaza Leza south side of the square good queso fundito w/chorizo, excellent grilled conch (caracol al mojo de ajo), Vgood margaritas!
              • Two blocks east is La Choza, the best authentic mayan restaurant in the area. signature dishes.Very good mole and cochinita pibil,
              • La Cocay 5 blocks north (8th st. between 10-15 aves) best fine dining on the island.
              Outside San Miguel
              • Paradise Cafe, (Bob's Marley bar) 15 miles south on ring road, past turnoff to Punta Celerain lighthouse, beginning of windward side.
              Best conch ceviche anywhere, hammocks, a few tables by the rugged ironstone shore, cold beer and big waves crashing.
              • Playa Bonita - few miles north on the windward side, similar fare, and kite surfers if it's windy.
              • Coconuts - A few more miles north on small bluff w/great views and fun for drinks and light fare.
              • Small Mayan ruin on road across the island (Ring road cuts across the island back to San Miguel a couple miles further north
              )• Mark and Denise recommend
              Restaurants = http://www.cozumelcondominium.com/inc...
              Top 10 Restaurants = http://www.cozumelcondominium.com/inc...
              Beach and Pub reviews = http://www.cozumelcondominium.com/inc...

              OCHO RIOS JAMAICA
              • Evita’s ($10 taxi) Fish specify head & tail off, Not saucy stuff) http://www.evitasjamaica.com
              • Coconuts (Walk) Oxtail w/best coconut Rice N' Peas, Red Pea/Pepperpot soups, Ackee/w Bacon www.coconutsrestaurantbarjamaica.com
              • Ice cream - fresh coconut, mango in supermarket, J'can brand "Dairy Maid', J'can ice cream bar called "Devon..Tropical Treats"
              • John Crow Bar - People watch, OK food http://www.jamaicaislandpass.com/node/2

              GRAND CAYMAN
              • Wellie's Cool Spot $ Share Lobster Cayman-style http://reviews.ky/2009/07/01/wellys-c...
              • Calypso Grill at Morgan's Harbour (slightly more $) try sticky toffee pudding http://www.calypsogrillcayman.com/

              FLORIDA KEYS
              www.ziggieandmaddogs.com best steakhouse pricey
              www.ballyhoosrestaurant.com reasonable food/prices
              BigPine Keys - http://www.nonamepub.com/
              Square Grouper on O'seas Highway.
              Funky Keys - Alabama Jacks Key Largo on Card Sound Road

              KEY WEST
              • Blonde Giraffe - Chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick http://www.blondgiraffe.com/
              • Bar (name? next to the Scarletts strip club) best Key Lime Coladas
              • Guy Harvey's grilled Mahi Sandwich http://www.guyharveysislandgrill.net/
              • La Te Da on Duval. (Chef Alice Weingarten) http://www.lateda.com/
              • Santiago's Bodega http://www.santiagosbodega.com/
              • 915 (James Beard Award) http://www.915duval.com/
              • Blue Heaven for breakfast www.blueheavenkw.homestead.com
              • El Siboney for some Cuban www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com
              • Dions Fried Chicken/Jamaican Patties Truman & White Citgo gas station

              1. re: MartinT

                Hopefully I did not find this thread too late. A huge recommendation in Ocho Rios is to go to Scothies for Jerk! I am Jamaican and this is where we all go on trips back home for Jerk. The original location is in Mo Bay but they opened a second in Ochie (Ocho Rios)

                Here are a couple links:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrFFDu...
                http://www.shermanstravel.com/travel_...

                1. re: MartinT

                  If not too late, in Grand Cayman hit the ice cream parlor on the second floor of the shopping area at Royal Walter where a lot of cruise ship tenders arrive. They sometimes make creamy corn icecream. It's fantastic, but it's hit or miss on when they have it.

                  And if your'e up by the cinema, try Chicken Chicken!

                  Veggo has excellent recs for Cozumel. But if you want a more local open air tacqueria, try Los Otates on Ave 15 and Calle 5 (I think) . Mostly locals Very inexpensive and very filling. and then Michoacan's on for ice cream, there one near the downtown square. Hit the Covi store for your liquor and try a 6er of Victoria or Leon Negra or Indio instead of Corona and DosEquis.