Caribbean may now be well known for its tourists and hotel complexes but every island still has its proud identity. What better way to sample this identity and authentic island life than through your tastebuds? Here are some of our favourite places to eat in Jamaica and beyond:
1. Floyd’s Pelican Bar
This impossible bar perches on stilts on a sandbank half a mile from the shore. This ramshackle hut and jetty made of driftwood and flotsam may not offer luxury furnishings, but what can be more luxurious than a cold beer, warm waist-high water and freshly grilled fish? Chat with a local to get a 10-minute boat ride out and join local fishermen for a game of dominoes and bring some sort of souvenir to add to Floyd’s wall montage.
2. Redbones Blues Cafe
Redbones is the hippest bar in Jamaica. Jazz and blues merge with slam poetry while art exhibitions sandwich film screenings. Caribbean Fusion dinner is served with a ‘bon appetit’ in the several indoor rooms or out in the romantic, fairy-lit terrace. An outdoor stage and bar keeps the party going late. With reggae-mecca Bob Marley House nearby there is no reason not to book your flights to Jamaica now!
3. Strawberry Hill
This exquisite restaurant is hidden in a boutique hotel on the slopes of the Blue Mountains. The complex has been a working plantation since the 1700s and guests pay hundreds of dollars to stay secluded in private Georgian cottages and bathe in the infinity pool overlooking Kingston, 3000ft below.
But you can enjoy it all yourself by booking in at the fabulous restaurant, split between Victorian gazebos, snaking walkways and wood-panelled terraces. The chef serves up ‘new Jamaican cuisine’: expect spiced, grilled shrimp, fish and curried goat, sweet peppers, fresh herbs and spicy salsa.
If you’re not limiting yourself to Jamaica and travelling around the Caribbean, head to these special spots for a taste of a more isolated island refuge.
Despite a reputation for luxury that accompanied the five-star Four Seasons Hotel to its shores, Nevis is resolutely local and old-fashioned. On the beautiful terrace at The Hermitage, local village chefs serve up their renowned weekly pig-roast and powerful 350-year old Rum Punch recipe.
The forgotten string of fishing villages that make up the main road of Eleuthera are a short flight or ferry from Nassau. This is one of the few islands where you can still find white-sand beaches all to yourself.
Everyone you meet has a brother or cousin with a shop, guesthouse, boat or restaurant. In this tight-knit community it’s easy to feel at home and it won’t take long for you to hear of island legend Lenny Kravitz, who has a studio on the island. Elvina’s Bar is a mecca for music lovers and the place to be on jam nights when amateur and professional musicians join the stage.