Culinary Styles

Photo credit: © Elke Dennis |

Long days spent exploring the local shops and museums or soaking up the gorgeous Caribbean surf and sun are bound to give vacationers a formidable appetite. Luckily, the culinary styles of the Bahamas offer enough options to suit every palate.

In fact, the culinary styles of the Bahamas reflect the rich cultural heritage of the area while still managing to incorporate many pleasant yet unexpected international flavors.

In recent years, world-class chefs have begun to arrive in the region, and their influence can be found in the gourmet dishes served in many of the island restaurants. Many of these establishments specialize in incorporating local flavors with American and Continental classics, a different way of providing travelers with an intriguing blend of the familiar and the exotic.

...sample the island's local fare.


Most vacationers will be eager to sample the island's local fare. Seafood is a staple, and local fishermen provide a great variety of regional fish including grouper, Bahamian lobster, and conch, which is a national favorite.  Conch, pronounced "konk," is a shell fish, comparable to an oyster, but firm rather than slimey.  Islanders prepare it in a number of ways, including stewed, "cracked" (deep fried), in chowders, salads, and fritters, and even raw.  Cracked conch with peas and rice is in fact the official national dish of the Bahamas. 

Many locals start off their day with "boil fish" which is prepared with green peppers, onions, and a little salt pork to taste. Grits generally accompany the dish. Another well-known recipe is "souse" which may be made of either chicken or pork that has been seasoned with onion, sweet pepper and bay leaves and left to simmer for hours. Often this is served with a side of "johnnycakes," a slightly sweet bread made from cornmeal that has been seasoned and pan-cooked that is also popular in the U.S. Southeast.  Other favorite island dishes include fish chowder, fritters, spiny lobster, Bahamian lobster, baked bonefish, and baked crab. 

Don't forget to fill up on the fresh fruits that are available in abundance on the islands, such as papaya, guava, passion fruit, melons, soursop, and mangoes. Coconut trees are found in abundance on the island, and is available year round.  You can eat the meat, drink the milk, and many desserts feature the ingredient.  Cakes, tarts, ice cream, custards, you name, coconut can be found in it - and if not in it, shredded on top of it. 


Not to be outdone, the drinks available on the islands are also unique and flavorful. Local soft drinks such as Desnoes and Geddes are available in pleasant varieties such as kola champagne and cream soda. Natural fruit juices are also popular and travelers should make a point of sampling Island Rose Tea, produced by the only tea-blending factory on the islands.

Beer fans may want to sample Kalik, which has been dubbed the "Beer of the Bahamas," and is only available on the islands.  Rum is a major component of many of the Bahamas' favorite mixed drinks, particularly the island's signature cocktail, the "Bahama Mama." In the islands, however, every bartender likes to put his own special twist on this drink and visitors should not be surprised to find each a little different from the last. Another well-known treat that remains a favorite with the islanders is comprised of gin and coconut milk.

The best way to try all of the Bahamas culinary delights is to simply get out and restaurant hop for each meal.  If you're looking for a particular cuisine, check out Restaurant Directory which allows you to sort the islands restaurants by the type of cuisine served.  Click here if you know the name of the restaurant you want information about. 

With the popularity of all-inclusive resorts, a shift has been made where many hotels in the Bahamas have restaurants on property.  You can find out if the accommodations you are considering have a restaurant (or two, or three), along with learning about the many other amenities offered by searching our A to Z: Hotels in Detail list.  Here, you will also be able to see which hotels surround the hotels you may stay at.  For the best of the best, check out our article detailing the Best Hotels for Dining Options.

Visitors are usually pleasantly surprised by the wide range of foods offered throughout the region because the multicultural influences ensure that everyone is able to find something they like. Enjoying the various culinary styles of the Bahamas is the perfect way to end fun-filled days spent exploring the islands.


Help us improve! We welcome your corrections and suggestions.