Honduras still feels like a secret spot when it comes to cruising, and that’s part of what makes a cruise to Mahogany Bay so special. Located on Roatán Island just off the coast of Central America, this gorgeous destination has a lot to offer in the way of stunning scenery and expressive local culture. It should be noted that Honduras is Spanish for “deep water,” and the island offers visitors water-based activities — and plenty of seafood, too.
So how do you figure out what to eat in Mahogany Bay? There’s a long list of popular foods that would be a shame to miss out on during your trip. Here are some favorites that represent Mahogany Bay cuisine at its best and are easy to find when you step off the ship. Bon appetit!
Baleadas are the quintessential Honduran street food, and you should have no trouble finding them from vendors anywhere in Roatán. Start with a baleada sencilla, which is a homemade flour tortilla filled with refried beans and crumbles of fresh farmer’s cheese. The special ingredient is local mantequilla, which is a cross between sour cream and cream cheese. These ingredients are spread onto the slightly puffy tortilla, which is folded in half and eaten with your hands. If you love it, try adding additional ingredients — scrambled eggs and shredded chicken are popular.
2. Sopa de Caracol
The deep, still waters of Honduras make it the perfect place to sample all sorts of seafood delicacies. Sopa de caracol — that’s conch soup, in English — is a seafood chowder that’s popular all over Mahogany Bay and coastal Central America. It’s made with the meat inside a conch shell, plus chunks of potatoes, tomatoes, celery, and other vegetables and local seasonings. The result, a rich savory soup that’s one traditional food from Mahogany Bay you shouldn’t miss.
Horchata may be the hip new drink at your local coffee shop, but it’s been popular in the Caribbean for as long as anyone can remember. Horchata is a creamy, delicious drink made from ground nuts and grains, including rice, tiger nuts and even melon seeds. It’s often seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and cocoa. No two horchatas are alike, because the flavor depends on the exact blend of ingredients, but it’s always cool and refreshing on a hot afternoon. When you’re shopping in Mahogany Bay, give in to temptation and sample the horchata from several shops to find your favorite.
Looking for more street food? Another popular dish that’s perfect for late-night snacking is the pupusa, a fluffy corn tortilla stuffed with a hearty filling and fried up to carry away. Fillings can include pork, cheese, beef and beans, depending on what’s available. Because the pupusa is so rich, it’s often served with encurtido, a pickled cabbage slaw that cuts through the richness and adds a refreshing crunch. Pupusas aren’t just a popular food in Mahogany Bay — they’re also common across Central America.
5. Plato Típico
Plato típico means “typical dish” in Spanish, and it varies depending where you travel. In Honduras, a local plato típico will likely consist of cuts of beef, the country’s most popular meat. On the side you’ll get an array of local foods, including fried plantains, which are like starchy bananas. You’re also likely to have beans and rice, a slaw of marinated cabbage, and perhaps a dollop of sour cream. Instead of rolls and butter, expect fresh tortillas on the side.
6. Mutton Peppers
When it comes to spicy specialties in Roatán, the mutton pepper is the magic ingredient that makes it all happen. Whether added to a sopa de caracol or served up in a salsa or rice dish, mutton peppers pack intense heat and unique flavor into everything. They’re similar to a Scotch Bonnet pepper, but you have to taste them for yourself to understand the ineffable quality. It’s best to try them in a dish; eating them plain is not for the faint of heart.
Anafre is actually the name of the special clay pot which this dish is served in, but it’s also how locals refer to this delicious appetizer. It’s a creamy bean dip made with either red or black beans and pureed until super-smooth. The beans are seasoned with local spices and possibly topped with chorizo for an extra savory kick. The beans are placed in the pot and topped with cheese that melts as the anafre pot is heated. When it reaches your table, dig in with tortilla chips and enjoy this local snack.
When you’re planning your list of things to do in Mahogany Bay, be sure to leave time to explore the port to experience the sights and sounds of local culture. No trip ashore is complete without a taste of Mahogany Bay cuisine, so be prepared for a culinary adventure! If you fall in love with one or more of the flavors, see if you can pick up a recipe book in a souvenir shop to try your hand at Honduran cooking at home–it makes an excellent souvenir!