Food is a big part of the cruise experience for us. With more dining options than ever, cruise ships are a smorgasbord of flavors ranging from cheeseburgers to Thai barbecue to our favorite, Mexican street tacos, just to name a few.
With so many choices on board, though, it is easy to forget each port also has its own set of unique restaurants. We believe that dining in port is one of the easiest ways to connect with the local culture when visiting a new country.
Since your time is limited in port, the key to a successful food adventure starts with having it planned before disembarking. Finding the best restaurant is important, but so is knowing how to get there from the port, how long it will take, and how much the trip will cost. Complications will arise from time to time. All you can do is roll with the punches (i.e. your taxi getting a flat tire) and enjoy the ride; adversity has a way of creating the best memories.
Now, if you’re cruising to the western Caribbean, then Beth and I have you covered. We did the planning, all that’s left for you to do is get there. These are our four favorite restaurants in Jamaica, Honduras, Mexico and Belize.
Pork Pit – Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jerk chicken is a staple in Jamaica, like the way cheeseburgers are in America. So, there are no shortage of roadside barbecue stands in Montego Bay. However, only a few can be local favorites, and the Pork Pit is at the top of the list. A group of us had some time to kill after our ATV excursion, so we decided to grab a taxi to a nearby beach. Along the way, someone mentioned jerk chicken, and the driver said she knew just the place. Inexpensive and authentic, the popular jerk stand features large portions of pork, chicken and ribs, as well as delicious sides, including sweet potatoes, plantains and corn.
Catch a cab at the cruise terminal. Pair up with other riders if possible to save on the fare. We were with two other couples and the rate was $15 per couple. My recommendation would be to make the Pork Pit a stop on your way to somewhere else, say the Hip Strip. Keep in mind traffic can be heavy between the terminal and restaurant so give yourself at least one hour to get there and back.
Beacher’s Bar and Grill – West Bay Beach, Roatan, Honduras
By the time we got to West End Beach, we were hungry. With no plan for a place to eat, I did a quick online search which wasn’t very helpful. Luckily, there are a few beachside restaurants. So we strolled along the sand to see what they had to offer. A few minutes later, we were sitting at Beacher’s Bar and Grill, sipping beers, and enjoying the ocean view. What drew us to Beacher’s? Its eclectic menu, which includes nachos, sushi, seafood, burgers and plantain fries. To our delight, each dish was delicious and paired perfectly with our cold beers and Roatan’s tropical breeze.
Beacher’s Bar and Grill is in the heart of West End Beach. We booked a hop-on, hop-off bus for approximately $22/rt/pp, which gave us the option to check out West End Beach and West Bay. The tour company is affiliated with Carnival, so we could use our sail and sign cards to pay for the tickets. The stand is easy to locate – it’s in the middle of the walkway after you pass through the duty-free shop.
Rainbow Bar and Grill – Caye Caulker, Belize
The drizzle started in Belize City, but by the time we stepped off the ferry in Caye Caulker it was a full-on down pour. We hopped beneath palm trees alongside the puddles of a dirt road until we came upon the colorful Rainbow Bar and Grill. A favorite among the island’s locals, the Rainbow’s lunch menu features a little something for everyone: burgers and sandwiches, vegetarian plates, and quesadillas and burritos. Taking a seat on the covered deck, we ordered drinks and food and watched as the rain danced on the turquoise water in front of us. Our time at the Rainbow Bar and Grill proved to be a perfect introduction to the tranquil nature of Caye Caulker.
Two ferry companies run daily out of Belize City to Caye Caulker. The ferry docks are less than a 10-minute walk from the ship. We chose San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxis as their schedule was a better fit. A round trip ticket costs about $25 and each way takes 45 minutes.
Wet Wendy’s Margarita House and Restaurant – Cozumel, Mexico
Finding Wet Wendy’s Margarita House and Restaurant was like hitting a trifecta at the horse track. The food adventure featured all our favorite things: giant margaritas, tasty tacos and discovering a new Mexican town—San Miguel. When we get off the Carnival Glory in Cozumel, we had planned to make our way to San Miguel, stopping along the way for a swim in the gorgeous jewel-tone water that hugs the shoreline. Before leaving the port, we stopped by the tourist information desk and that is when we learned about Wet Wendy’s. From that moment on, we were on a mission to try the restaurant’s famous margaritas. Spoiler alert: They’re huge and super delicious. Wet Wendy’s is a small open-air affair, perfect for all those sunny Cozumel days. But don’t let its size fool you, the menu is plentiful and the food coming out of the kitchen is 100% Mexican.
Taking a taxi is the quickest way to get to Wet Wendy’s. A one way, three-mile cab ride from the port to San Miguel is a fixed rate of $18 for up to four people. Fixed taxi rates are one of the ways Mexico is trying to make traveling around Cozumel easier for tourists. Of course, walking is always an option. You’ll find sidewalks all the way from the port to San Miguel, making it a safe choice for those who prefer to walk.
Eating local while in port is a great way to take your Caribbean cruise to the next level. Beth and I think it is one of the best and easiest ways to learn about a new culture, and we can’t recommend it enough. Think of it as an adventure in every bite, plus, sometimes just getting to the restaurant is half the fun.
Got a favorite restaurant when you’re in port? Tell us about it in the comments!
This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.