Ask any foodie and they'll tell you that the best part of a holiday is tasting something new. That’s even more true when it comes to an island getaway, where the seafood is fresh, the fruit is sweet and life seems to move more slowly.
Whether or not you’re a self-proclaimed foodie, food plays a big part on any holiday and can be the cherry on top of your trip (no pun intended). It’s definitely one of the best ways to get a feel for a place and immerse yourself into its culture.
With so many culinary destinations around the world, it can be hard to know where to go. We've compiled a list of the top ten island getaway for foodies, so you can start thinking about your next culinary adventure. Get ready to drool!
The culinary heritage of Malta is diverse, having borrowed elements of Spanish, British, and Italian cuisine. Here, fresh food is the way of life. Surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, this is seafood heaven. Be sure to try tuna, octopus, swordfish, mullet, and beam. Fish soup is also a popular dish alongside ftira, a type of Maltese bread. Other favourite local dishes include bigilla, smashed broad beans cooked with garlic, and timpana, baked macaroni served with Bolognese sauce. If you like wine, you’re also in good hands. Be sure to go on a guided wine-tasting tour to discover the different varieties while learning about the history, flavours and manufacturing process of Maltese wine.
Because of its location, the food in Cyprus takes inspiration from a number of different places and there’s a delicious mix of Arabic, Turkish, and Greek gastronomic influences. Here you’ll come across fresh seasonal vegetables, including cucumbers, coriander, aubergines, tomatoes, and parsley. Love cheese? You’ll love it here – Cyprus is the birthplace of halloumi. It has been a source of national pride since the 16th century. Vegan travellers will fall in love with louvi, a highly nutritious meal cooked with black-eyed beans, chard, and parsley and seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil. If you’re looking for a foodie tour or cooking class, Larnaca, Limasso and Nicosia are the best spots.
Majorca, the largest of all the Balearic Islands, is also the foodie epicentre of this archipelago. Whether you’re looking for fine dining or a street food paradise, Majorca has some of the best Mediterranean dishes. Rooted in locally sourced ingredients, Mallorcan cuisine tends to include pork, fish, vegetables, and generous applications of juicy olives, sun-drenched lemons, and garlic. Despite traditionally including a lot of meat, you will find that many restaurants specialise in vegetarian and vegan dishes (such as Donna Vegana and Bellaverde).
The Caribbean is world-famous for its cuisine and definitely lives up to its foodie reputation. Each island has something different to offer, but a couple of destinations stand out for dedicated foodies. One of the top choices for culinary travels is Jamaica – your mouth will water at all of the delights on offer. Be sure to try jerk chicken, curry goat and the national dish, ackee and saltfish. Martinique is also a top choice for foodies. Traditional Martinican dishes have Asian, French, and African influences. Gobble up some lambis or sea snails, grilled sea bream, or stewed octopus flavoured with Colombo – a signature spice blend in Martinique. The fresh Martinican drink, Ti Punch, a blend of sugar cane juice, syrup, and lime, is irresistible. Another destination for your Carribean foodie tour is Barbados – flying fish and cou-cou is a must-try here. This is a traditional Bajan dish consisting of fried fish, cornmeal and okra.
Food lovers visiting the Maldives are treated with special chef-prepared dining packages, including freshly caught seafood. Shellfish, yellowfin, and skipjack tuna are some traveller favourites, in addition to local fruits, breadfruit, tubers, millet, and coconut. Maldivian cuisine features a broad array of flavours partly influenced by neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka and India. For extravagant dining, plan a food trip to Rangali Island in the world’s first all-glass underwater restaurant (Conrad Maldives). Here, you will be served award-winning food and wine in a unique setting – definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a foodie!
Lanzarote is a great spot for all kinds of fish – wreckfish, tuna, moray, hake, pollack, and seabass are traditionally served with red mojo, the hottest sauce in Lanzarote. Sometimes, mojo can be super-hot depending on the amount of pepperoni and chilli used. It’s typically served with wrinkled potatoes (papas arrugadas) that have been fried, baked, or grilled then topped with white mojo (creamy sauce prepared with garlic and mayonnaise). Papas arrugadas is the national dish of the Canary Islands. In its preparation, potatoes are slightly peeled, dipped in mojo, and seasoned with salt. Malvasía, a type of wine cultivated and produced in Lanzarote, is probably the best treat for foodie travellers. Like Sherry, malvasías can reach up to 17% ABV and make a perfect drink to accompany the culinary delights of the island.
Cretan cuisine places an emphasis on freshness, pure Mediterranean flavours, and the quality of ingredients. Greens and herbs are cherished and used alongside lemon juice and olive oil, which is considered liquid gold in Crete. Fish, chicken, pork, and lamb are also popular in Crete, but you won’t be disappointed if you are veggie or vegan because soft eggplants, ripe tomatoes, and courgette abound. The desserts and snacks are also glorious – you’ll find all the Greek yoghurt you could hope for and delicious pastries like baklava drizzled with honey and nuts.
The best way to get a feel for Bali is through the mouth-watering local cuisine. Most travellers can’t get enough of urap sayur – a Balinese dish consisting of mixed vegetables and coconut. The vegan-friendly meal combines cabbage, spinach, green beans, cassava leaves and bean sprouts. Enjoy urap with sate (mashed chicken), betutu (duck/chicken stuffed with spices), or on its own. Bubur mengguh is a compulsory treat when you visit Bali. The savoury dish that originated in Buleleng is always served at any traditional Balinese ceremony. It tastes good when topped with shredded chicken, celery, spices, or roasted peanuts.
Bring your appetite with you when you visit this laid-back French island and get ready to indulge in a fusion of Mediterranean cuisines. Earthy flavours dominate in Corsican dishes, which are mainly cured meat, cheese, vegetables, and tropical fruits. It is quite common for Corsicans to take three-course meals at lunchtime so make sure you have enough space for dessert! Traditional desserts include chestnut flour doughnuts or canistrelli, shortbread made with white wine. In the evening, try chilled fiadone, a type of cheesecake prepared with brocciu cheese then seasoned with eau de vie and lemon zest.
The secret to Madeiran cuisine is the diverse and fresh ingredients, which are a result of the island’s favourable climate and volcanic nature. You won’t be able resist the flavour of the nutritious vegetables, fruits, meat, and breads like bolo do caco. Fish is also popular in this region and believe it or not, espada (black scabbardfish) is served with banana. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Tuna steaks marinated in molho de vilão sauce are often accompanied with fried maize and are also a must on your trip. Sopa de trigo (or wheat soup) is also a speciality on this island.