Local Eats Across the Caribbean

These island flavors will find their way into your heart (through your stomach).
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Jerk chicken is a Caribbean staple, but there are many other incredible dishes!

Credit: Royal Caribbean

There’s an incredibly rich mix of culture to be found in the Caribbean—take Barbados, the birthplace of Calypso music, or Puerto Rico’s famous rum and original drink the piña colada. There’s one thing, however, that music enthusiasts, history buffs and cocktail sippers can all get behind: traditional Caribbean meals. Food embodies a nation’s very culture and essence, and it is a window into each island’s reality. After all, food is an adventure.

From Puerto Rico to Barbados, here’s more about the customary Caribbean recipes you’ll want to taste — and the cruises that can take you to them:

Flying Fish is not only part of the national dish, but also a national symbol of Barbados.

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Barbados: Cou Cou & Flying Fish

Cou cou, served with flying fish, is the national dish of Barbados—and one you won’t soon forget. Somewhat similar to polenta or grits, it’s made with cornmeal and okra. The recipe requires constant stirring to make sure the cou cou has a smooth consistency, and it’s then topped with the flying fish, a national symbol that can be seen on the country’s coat of arms. Complete with a sauce or gravy made of Barbadian spices, this hearty and delicious meal is an authentic taste of Barbadian culture.

Chart your course for Barbados, and try this delicacy for yourself.


Bahamian spiny lobster is a unique delicacy.

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The Bahamas: Spiny Lobster

Different than its northern cousins, the spiny lobster lives in warm, Bahamian waters and has no claws, since the spikes on its shell offer protection. Under its shell, it has a soft texture and delicate, sweet flavor, so it’s perfect for grilling with herb butter for dishes like a curry or cheese grits. It’s a must-try and a way to get a taste for Bahamian culture, as our Adventurist Shay Mitchell did when she explored The Bahamas.

What’s more, The Bahamas is the only certified-sustainable fishery for spiny lobster, so you can enjoy this delicacy knowing that it is harvested under the best environmental standards.


A favorite from Puerto Rico, mofongo combines the flavors of mashed plantains and a rich broth.

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Puerto Rico: Mofongo

The most popular (and by many accounts, most loved) Puerto Rican dish, mofongo, is packed with flavor: It’s made from not-yet-sweet, fried plantains mashed with garlic, pork rinds, salt and oil in a wooden mortar. The mash is then shaped into a ball that’s perfect to absorb the signature creamy broth around it—usually including a rich mixture of garlic and olive oil with chicken, veggies, beef or even octopus.

Catch a cruise to Puerto Rico to get a hands-on lesson from a local chef (and wash it down with a mojito, of course).


Jerk refers to a style of cooking, coating a meat, most often chicken, in spices and slow cooking it over a fire of green pimento wood.

Credit: iStock

Jamaica: Jerk Chicken

One of the most popular Caribbean dishes, jerk chicken from Jamaica is very much worth a try to ensure the most authentic flavor. The meat is dry-rubbed or marinated with allspice (or pimento, as Jamaicans call it) along with scotch bonnet peppers—which really bring the heat!

Back in the day, locals first cooked the chicken (or pork) over a smoking wood fire. Now it’s made in wood-burning stoves or large drums called “jerk pans,” ensuring the meat picks up plenty of that smoky flavor.

This is certainly the signature dish of Jamaica, but there are so many other delicious foods to savor. Why not cruise to Jamaica and taste them all?

Ready to head down to the Caribbean and sample the local fare? The perfect cruise to take you on a culinary adventure is waiting here.