Far from more culinary capitals such as New York City and San Francisco, beach destinations are rarely the first stop on an epicurean getaway. But plenty of tropical locales boast impressive chef creations, from farm-fresh plates, to straight-from-the-ocean cuisine. And just because you appreciate a quality Porterhouse cut and kicking back on the beach with a mai-tai shouldn't mean you have to sacrifice one for the other. Whether you're looking for a truly delicious all-inclusive plan, or some mouthwatering organic delights, we've got the best foodie beach destinations for all palates.
For All-Inclusive Dining...
To foodies, all-inclusive resort dining just means sloppy buffet lines and leftover à la carte "crab meat" (and to be fair, it often does). But luckily some resorts don’t mind offering some actually decent, and often delicious, menu options that you'll look forward to chowing down on. These resorts may be pricey, and few and far between, but they're worth the visit. Your taste buds -- and stomach -- will thank you!
Stay: Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic
The five-pearl Casa De Campo is one of the top properties in the D.R. With over a dozen dining options, the resort’s all-inclusive rates include renowned eateries such as the waterfront Beach Club and the Mediterranean-inspired La Caña, both from the famed family behind Le Cirque restaurants in New York and Las Vegas. So whether you’re craving spicy rack of lamb or fresh grilled seafood, this resort won’t make you shell out extra for a good meal.
For Celeb Chef Dining...
Beach resorts may not draw top chefs the way New York and L.A. do, but some sandy destinations such as Miami have the best of both worlds, with a thriving urban culture and a laid-back beach draw.
Stay: Fontainebleau Resort Miami Beach
The Fontainebleau in Miami Beach is one the Magic City’s most famed megaresorts, so it’s no wonder the expansive property is raising the bar for area dining. Signature restaurants at the Fontainebleau include Gotham Steak, by Michelin-star chef winner Alfred Portale, and the Italian joint Scarpetta, from James Beard winner Scott Conant. The chic Cantonese restaurant Hakkasan, an outpost of the Michelin-starred London location, also makes waves with its popular dim sum prix fixe menus and Peking duck with Russian Osetra caviar (only $198!).
For Healthy Dining...
While keeping fit may not be the first thing on vacationers’ minds, many beach destinations make eating healthy easier, thanks to fresh local seafood and tasty fruits and veggies. From fusion creations to locally-sourced menus, Jamaica’s cuisine will fill you up without the guilt (and unwanted gut).
Stay: Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Jamaica
Round Hill has some of the best food on the island, and it just happens to be some of the best for you, too. The kitchen is helmed by Chef Martin Ian Maginley, who was named “Chef of the Caribbean” for two consecutive years by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, and dishes incorporate ingredients from the hotel’s own organic garden that add a little pizazz to entrees like spiny Caribbean lobster tail and Chigwell Farm’s organic charcoal roast chicken. Menus even include vegetarian options, which is a rarity in most Caribbean restaurants.
For Fine Dining....
Fine dining options come few and far between on many beach getaways. While most vacationers settle for less-than-stellar jerk chicken, others want to be dazzled by regional kitchen creations in a luxe setting.
Stay: St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico
For some of the best samplings of Puerto Rican cuisine, the St. Regishas excellent fine dining at Fern, lead by acclaimed Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The restaurant serves up traditional Puerto Rican fare in a style locally known as cocina criolla. Popular options include roasted grouper with black beans and avocado, and black pepper octopus with sweet onions and ají dulce, a sweet Latin American pepper.
For Casual Dining...
Casual resort meals may sometimes mean mediocre pre-made sandwiches from the grab-and-go market, but some hotels go above and beyond to give travelers world-class menu option throughout their stay, just like one of our favorite properties in the Bahamas.
Stay: Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, Bahamas
Atlantis is a foodie destination unto itself, with over 40 bars and restaurants throughout the sprawling property. The resort may boast gastronomic hot spots such as Nobu, Café Martinique by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Mesa Grill by Bobby Flay, but even its buffets are some of the most appetizing in the Caribbean. The breakfast offerings at Marketplace, as well as the “on-demand” dishes at Mosiac , best some of Las Vegas' finest buffets, with the latter restaurant even offering custom-prepared churrasco.