A great way to savor a vacation is to discover how a new flavor can enhance your travels and bring you back to that memory with just one bite. While many restaurants offer a farm-to-table experience, it doesn’t get any more local than a cruise to the Caribbean where you can actually get a taste of the tropics through locally grown fruits.
From the ever-popular avocado toast and pineapple salsa to tasty tacos al pastor, fruit creates the perfect balance in a variety of dishes many of us know and love. And to top it all off, fruit is also a key ingredient in a long list of cocktails.
No matter the island, farmers harvest the fruits of their labor and bring incredible produce to nearby markets that travelers and locals alike can enjoy.
Check out some favorites you can keep an eye out for when exploring local fruit stands on a Caribbean cruise:
Pineapple, The Bahamas
Pineapples are popular throughout the Caribbean—and Hawaii—and many say one can find the world’s sweetest pineapples in Eleuthera and Harbour Island in The Bahamas. Referred to as “sugar loaf” by local Bahamians, the Eleuthera pineapple is not only indigenous to The Bahamas, but the country was also the first to produce and export the fruit on a commercial scale to England and the United States in 1844.
The most popular way to slice and juice a pineapple in The Bahamas is to craft the island’s signature cocktail, the Bahama Mama. Its brilliant taste, perfectly balancing sweet and tart, also makes for the renowned delicious and refreshing flavor of a tropical conch salad.
Soursop, Dominican Republic
Soursop, called guanabana in Spanish, is an exotic blend of many fruity Caribbean flavors. It tastes like strawberry and apple with a hint of sour citrus, smells similar to pineapple and looks like it has a softer texture than a banana.
It’s typically sold cut in half in markets, and people scoop it with a spoon to eat what’s inside. It’s a fan-favorite flavor in drinks, ice cream, popsicles and syrups, and best enjoyed to the beat of merengue.
Most parts of the soursop plant are also used in holistic medicine, including its leaves, stems, bark, roots and fruit, throughout the Caribbean.
Jamaica’s national fruit does double duty as a vegetable in its national dish of salted cod and ackee (or, ackee and saltfish as the Jamaicans call it). When chefs mix ackee with salted cod, onions, tomatoes, red bell pepper, garlic and hearty spices, this quintessential breakfast dish is sure to rise to the top of your list of favorites.
Ackee, native to western Africa, was first brought to the island by slaves in the late 18th century. Although it’s distantly related to a lychee, it has a distinct creamy texture and tastes a bit like a nutty version of cream cheese.
Be sure and eat your fill while in Jamaica because fresh ackee is not available for export. This means that while the canned version can be found outside of Jamaica, local chefs, residents and expats insist on fresh ackee to get their fix.
The requisite ingredient for guacamole has a buttery texture and a rich, nutty flavor. Avocados are traced as far back as 10,000 years ago to Puebla in southern Mexico.
Avocado adds a distinct flavor to many Mexican dishes, from a breakfast tostada to an after-dinner chocolate pudding. Due to its versatility and healthy fats, the fruit also works as a foundation for smoothies, a tasty topping for salads and that ’gram-worthy avocado toast.
Star Fruit, U.S. Virgin Islands
A mix of apple, pear, grape and citrus is how best to describe this tiny, uniquely shaped fruit. There are many varieties of star fruit, so depending on the season, ripeness or area of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the taste can range from tart and sour to exceedingly sweet. Look for star fruit, also known as carambola, at the market on a hot day—not only is it delicious, it’s also refreshing.
Star fruit gets its name from its shape, because when it is cut open, the inside reveals a five-point star. Given its versatile flavor, these stars can be a punchy ingredient in many dishes and drinks, from a satisfying smoothie to a star fruit upside-down cake.
Be sure to sample these fruit flavors, especially where they are the local option. And look forward to a getaway to the Caribbean; check out your cruise options here.