The Honeymooners Guide to Dining in the Caribbean
A honeymoon in the Caribbean guarantees plenty of sun and sand, but when it comes to good food, not all restaurants—or islands, for that matter—are created equal. Almost everywhere you go, you'll find quintessential bars fronting turquoise waters and picturesque beaches. But when it comes to sussing out that amazing mom-and-pop restaurant serving recipes that have been passed down through the generations, or dining at a restaurant run by a next-generation chef who's putting flavorful spins on his island's West Indian heritage, you need to know where to look.
Islands like Anguilla, for example, are filled with restaurants run by an owner/chef/host, where the menu is easy and you can eat with your toes in the sand. St. Barts, meanwhile, offers more upscale, glitzy dining and menus focused on cooking locally sourced ingredients with fancy techniques from abroad. And then there are places like the Bahamas, which is filled with resorts that offer fan-favorite local dishes, like conch salad and grouper fingers, for lunch, but fine-dining dinner options serve a broader range of cuisines (Italian, contemporary American, Mediterranean, and more).
The island you choose will determine the quality of your eats, so foodie couples should consider working backwards: Take a look at our favorite restaurants in the Caribbean and see if their diverse menus, fresh ingredients, interesting flavor combinations, and unique local cooking techniques might inspire where you decide to travel for your honeymoon. Then, look for hotel accommodations nearby. Hey, there's nothing wrong with eating your way through the Caribbean, especially on your honeymoon.
Bonito, St. Barts
Unfortunately, much of St. Barts took a hit during Hurricane Maria in 2017, but the crown jewel of Gustavia reopened for visitors, who continue to flock here for its unique French-Latin cuisine and picturesque harbor views, in winter of 2018. Romantic vibes abound: The restaurant is blanketed in candlelight and a light hilltop breeze, but the crispy tuna ceviche with nikkei sauce and black rice, paired with an elderflower mule cocktail, will really seal the deal.
Fi'lia, Nassau, Bahamas
Dining is an interactive experience at this new Italian spot at the SLS Baha Mar, led by Michelin-starred chef Michael Schwartz. The meal begins with a loaf of bread, presented with olive oil and oregano snipped at the table. Caesar salad is tossed in a shower of shaved parmigiano served from a roaming cart and rustic pizzas are cooked in a wood-fired oven located directly in the open-air dining room.
The Stone Barn, St. Kitts
This adults-only restaurant at the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts takes its name from the stone barns once used to protect the crops during the island's rainy season. Now, it's a romantic setting in which to dine on fire-roasted cuisine, like twice-cooked pork belly, spiced lamb skewers, and seafood paella.
Blue by Eric Ripert, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Oenophiles should seek out Michelin-starred chef Eric Ripert's Caribbean restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman. The wine list is 700 bottles strong and each six- or seven-course tasting menu has the option to add on pairings with iconic and rare vintage wines. For those with less adventurous palates, there is also an là carte dining option plus innovative craft cocktails.
Sui-Ren, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos
You don't often find Peruvian-Japanese fusion in the Caribbean, but this new concept at the Shore Club, on Providenciales's secluded Long Bay, thinks outside the box. Sui-Ren takes its name from the Japanese word for water lily, and uses only the freshest seafood and organic produce for dishes like Peruvian ceviche and tiradito made with seared white fish, leche de Tigre, rocoto aioli, and crunch corn.
Balter, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are just the starting point at this downtown Christiansted restaurant. For award-winning chef Digby Stridiron, it's about creatively merging St. Croix's West Indian and Crucian heritages to create contemporary island cuisine. You can also expect top-notch service, craft cocktails, open-air courtyard seating, and an extensive list of wines, hand-picked by sommelier Patrick Kralik.
Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands
Truth be told, you don't really come here for the food; you come for the painkiller cocktails. Soggy Dollar Bar is famous for having invented the concoction of premium dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple and orange juices, topped with fresh-grated Grenadian nutmeg. Given its position on dreamy White Bay—a frequent stop on common sailing routes around the BVI—you can expect crowds of rowdy revelers during high season, which only adds to the fun.
The Strawberry Hill Restaurant, Jamaica
This mountain cottage resort, owned by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, has a bird's-eye view of Kingston. It's the perfect vantage point from which to dine on Jamaican specialties like curried goat oxtail and quinoa-Rasta salad (made with ackee, calaloo, and citrus vinaigrette). If the night is cool, head for a nightcap by the stone fireplace at the wainscotted bar and browse the vintage photos of world-famous jazz, rock, and reggae musicians hanging on the walls.
Da Conch Shack, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
As the name implies, lime-marinated conch salad is the specialty of this casual beach bar on Provo. The chef also sources catch-of-the-day grouper, snapper, and lobster from local fishermen and cooks up fiery jerk chicken and BBQ pulled-pork burgers for non-seafood eaters
Hibernia Restaurant, Anguilla
Anguilla was hit hard by Hurricane Maria last year. But that didn't stop this popular spot from reopening in November. Hibernia melds French preparations with a symphony of Asian flavors to create dishes like roasted lobster tail with lemongrass and black garlic sauce, pan-grilled Perigord duck breast with a honey-balsamic vinegar sauce, and salted almond mahi mahi with butternut squash gratin. Not to mention they're visual works of art—you can't dine here and not post an Insta food pic.
Bistrot Caraibes, Saint Martin
Saint Martin continues to get back on its feet following last year's devastating hurricanes, but recovery was quick for Bistrot Caraibes's brother co-owners Thibault and Amaury Mezière. Their fine-dining French restaurant on Grand Case has been an island favorite for years, so you can believe that since reopening, diners have flocked here for the seafood-centric menu and out-of-this-world lobster served grilled, garlic butter–braised, or thermidor-style.
Oceanfront views set the scene for sustainable dishes served with locally grown ingredients, the focus at Elements. The menu is filled with globally-inspired dishes, like Mediterranean mezze, carrot ginger soup, artichoke-arugula ravioli, and Cajun-spiced duck breast. But if you're after Aruban classics, come on Sunday nights when the restaurant hosts its weekly "Local Arts, Local Eats" event.