If you’re like most people, Antigua conjures images of a Caribbean paradise with its endless blue skies, white sandy beaches and coral reefs teeming with life. While this is a perfect summary of what awaits you in Antigua, the island nation has so much more to offer.
Rich in tradition and proud of its colorful and immersive culture, Antigua isn’t just a postcard-perfect natural beauty but a place that will touch both your imagination and heart. Nothing embodies this idyllic balance of aesthetics and atmosphere like its delicious food, varied history, and the natural bounty and charisma that makes it so unique.
Whether you’re taking in the sights and sounds of the port of call, touring the rainforest canopy, or just walking along the white beaches, try sampling these dishes during your cruise to Antigua. They’re sure to fill your tummy, put a smile on your face and make Antigua a destination you’ll never forget.
The elegant conch is definitely more than just a pretty face. Best known for its intricate spiral shell that has served as a plot point for countless pirate movies and seafaring adventures, the conch is a versatile shellfish that is both similar and different than other seafood dishes. Antigua puts its own stamp on conch that makes it a memorable meal.
Fished from the island’s own warm waters, the conch in Antigua is sweet with a texture somewhere between clams and calamari. Given its local abundance, conch can be found in different chowders, curries, ceviches, or battered and fried into fritters. We must say, however, on a warm Antigua day, it’s hard to beat the light and refreshing taste of conch ceviche served alongside the cool beverage of your choice.
If you’re trying to decide what to eat in Antigua and are looking for a dish that highlights the wide variety of ingredients native to the island, look no further than ducana. Similar to tamales in both preparation and texture, ducana is a mixture of grated sweet potatoes and coconuts seasoned with a variety of spices, wrapped in a banana leaf, and steamed until well-cooked and savory.
Usually served as a side dish, ducana’s subtle combination of sweet and tangy that will entice your taste buds and fits perfectly alongside one of the many seafood mainstays served throughout Antigua. Make sure you’re sitting down when the banana leaf is unwrapped and the heavenly smell fills the air, you might just get lightheaded from the excitement.
3. Fungee and Pepperpot
Pepperpot might be common throughout the Caribbean, but we guarantee Antigua’s version is unlike the rest. In fact, fungee and pepperpot is Antigua’s national dish, found throughout the island nation. While at first glance the two might not seem like perfect companions – fungee being a cornmeal made from okra and pepperpot a hearty stew – the combination works to tropical perfection.
Think of fungee and pepperpot as Antigua’s version of Irish bangers and mash or, more traditionally, a thick beef stew served alongside a generous portion of mashed potatoes. Pepperpot – with its long list of island spices, meat, and firm vegetables – along with the mild, polenta-like taste of fungee is an inviting mix of flavors and textures perfect for a fantastic lunch along the breezy Antiguan shoreline.
So your packing everything you can into your cruise, experiencing the many things to do in Antigua and need a light, refreshing meal for a warm and busy day. Thankfully, souse is ideal for such a busy schedule and readily available to put a much-needed bounce back in your step.
A chilled, light dish that shares characteristics of soup and ceviche, souse is typically made with pickled pork but can also be found with chicken in some restaurants. With a light, clear broth as its base, souse is flavored with different peppers, onions, lime, and a handful of spices to give it a bit of a kick as it cools you down on a hot day. While shopping in Antigua and needing a quick pick-me-up, souse might be just what you need.
Commonly paired with ducana or fungee, saltfish is another mainstay in Antiguan cuisine that ignites your palate with salty, savory, and sweet tones. Almost always made from cod fished out of the local waters, the fish is salt-cured for 24 hours before it is washed and boiled along with peppers, onion, and spices. The result is delightfully straightforward but amazingly satisfying given its simplicity. Don’t confuse simplicity with ease, it takes a skilled, knowledgeable hand to make the dish sing.
6. Local Lagers
Of course, no meal is complete without something to help wash it down. Antigua is home to a handful of local lager makers that put their own spin on the microbrew. Often using recipes honed over generations, Antiguan lagers tends to be light, effortlessly refreshing, and ideal for a warm day on the beach.
7. Tamarind Balls
While you’re sitting on the beach, local lager in hand, wanting an easy snack, tamarind balls are another Antiguan fixture. Sweet and sour, peppery and chewy, this traditional finger food combines the flesh of the tamarind fruit along with brown sugar to form snack size balls that are then rolled in granulated sugar for some added punch.
To get the complete experience during your cruise vacation, be sure to sample Antigua’s food under the sights and sounds of this Caribbean paradise. Both your taste buds and memories will thank you.
Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.