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Mushrooms, meat, cilantro and a lime slice in a in ceramic bowl

7 Must-Try Caribbean Dishes

Variety is the spice of life in the Caribbean. Entertain your palate with popular Caribbean dishes that feature just-caught seafood, an exciting mosaic of textures and seasonings, and cultural influences from around the globe. Wash it all down with a rum drink and finish the meal with a tantalizing citrus dessert.

Must-Try Caribbean Dishes

As you cruise the Caribbean, embark on a taste adventure with our 7 must-try Caribbean dishes. 

1. Jerk (Jamaica)

Jerk is popular throughout the Caribbean but it’s native to Jamaica. Meat (goat, chicken, beef) is marinated or dry-rubbed with Jamaican jerk seasoning, a mixture that includes Scotch bonnet chili peppers and allspice. The meat is slow-cooked over a smoking fire, and the result is fall-off-the-bone tender. 

Sample jerk at family restaurants near Ocho Rios

2. Cracked Conch (Turks & Caicos)

Cracked conch is conch meat battered and deep-fried, served in a bread roll with fries. The taste is similar to calamari. Try this signature dish of Turks & Caicos if you wish but note that there are concerns about conch population decline and overfishing. 

3. Mofongo (Puerto Rico)

A flavorful and texture-rich Caribbean dish, mofongo is a mash-up of plantains, crispy pork and garlic paste shaped into a dome with broth poured over the top. It is one of Puerto Rico’s most well-known foods and versatile.

You will find variations of mofongo on plates across the Caribbean—the Dominican Republic serves up mangú, for example. Mofongo is beloved as a side dish and a main course, served with a protein and beans and rice.

4. Guava Duff (Bahamas)

Move over tiramisu. Guava duff is this sweet pink fruit diced up and folded into pillowy dough. The topper? A gentle drizzle of Rum or brandy buttercream. Guava duff is a must-try traditional Caribbean dish in the Bahamas that’s served on special occasions. Caribbean food history trivia: guava is a native Bahamas fruit. 

5. Pescado Frito (Cozumel)

Fresh fish is abundant in Cozumel, Mexico’s island in the Caribbean Sea. Pescado frito translates to fried fish and the dish is a fish served whole on the plate. While it’s not the prettiest dish, the crispy skin and tender meat are in perfect harmony. Squeeze lime over the top. Best enjoyed with a side of rice and a cold Cerveza. 

6. Flying Fish (Barbados)

Flying fish are fascinating and beautiful creatures, known for wing-like pectoral fins that propel themselves over the water and away from predators. In Barbados, they “fly” right onto your plate, atop cou-cou, a cornmeal side. Flying fish don’t travel well and Bajans are the only ones who can properly de-bone them. Try this signature Caribbean dish on cruises to Bridgetown, Barbados

7. Key Lime Pie (Key West)

We saved one of the best Caribbean foods for last. You can find key lime pie across the U.S., but there’s no place like home. On a Key West cruise, see the pie’s birthplace, the mansion of William Curry, Florida’s first self-made millionaire. His aunt purportedly invented the pie in the kitchen.

Get a behind-the-scenes “taste” of Caribbean food on culinary shore excursions. Or learn how to cook Caribbean food at a cooking demonstration, available on some ships.

View all Caribbean travel tips and articles.