Although it’s unlikely that anyone, ever, will get tired of the fantastic sun, sea and sand the Caribbean has to offer, many islands have begun ramping up promotions of their culinary offerings in recent years as well. There is a proliferation of festivals celebrating rum, fruit, crab and more, all throughout the region. Here are just a handful of the amazing annual events where you too can sample the delectable cuisine of the islands.
All Andros Crab Fest, Bahamas
Each year since 1997, tourists and Bahamians alike enjoy an all out crab extravaganza at the All Andros Crab Fest. The event is held the second week in June on Andros Island, the largest of the 26 inhabited islands of the Bahamas, located 77 km southwest of Nassau. Highlights include a crab culinary contest, crab cultural display and land crabs cooked 101 ways. Learn more at bahamas.com.
Cayman Cookout, Cayman Islands
With partners like the Ritz-Carlton and Food & Wine Magazine, expectations for Cayman Cookout are always pretty high. The multi-day event includes tastings, demonstrations and excursions, as well as appearances by celebs like Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse and Jose Andres. Eric Ripert, chef of Blue at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, has hosted the event for 8 of its 9 past installments. The culinary talent is a veritable who’s who of local and international personalities. At just about 30 minutes flying time from Miami Airport, this seems like a good place to please the higher end palate. Learn more at caymanislands.ky.
Portland Jerk Festival, Jamaica
On the first Sunday every July, Jamaicans and visitors to the island make the journey to Portland on the east coast for the country’s largest celebration of its signature spicy jerk seasoning. The Portland Jerk Festival offers delicious food, arts and crafts, and a concert to keep guests entertained as they sample lobster, conch, sausage, chicken, pork and more across the grounds. Learn more at facebook.com/originsofjerk.
Food, Wine & Rum Festival, Barbados
In November, near the time of Barbados’ independence, travelers from around the world visit the eastern Caribbean island to eat, drink and be merry at their annual Food, Wine and Rum Festival. Stars like Marcus Samuelsson, and a number of international chefs, come together with local chefs to share techniques and create a memorable spread of fare for their guests. As home of the world’s oldest documented rum factory, the event organizers believed it was important to incorporate lots of rum into the proceedings. Learn more at foodwinerum.com.
Mango & Food Festival, Nevis
Nevis, the sister island to St Kitts, hosts its Mango and Food Festival each July. This fairly young festival takes place over 4 days with dining, cooking demos, master cook-along classes and a beach celebration. One of the unique mandates for participating chefs is that each and every course of every meal must have Nevis mangoes incorporated. The weekend’s climax is the Nevisian Chefs’ Mango Feast, a challenge of creativity and skill as an ode to the scintillating gastronomic thrills of the king of fruit. Learn more at nevisisland.com/nevismangofest.