An island vacation offers all kinds of exciting opportunities to try new things, but if there’s a die-hard foodie inside of you then a novel culinary experience is likely to be a top priority—and perhaps even something to check off your travel bucket list.
Leading hotels, resorts, and island destinations are answering the call for memorable dining moments with an array of food-and-beverage offerings designed to showcase the island’s specialties, the talents of local chefs and, of course, the sunset.
Here are 10 cool resort culinary experiences to try.
Chef-Guided Culinary Excursion
The Place: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
Immersing oneself in the tranquility of the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, which features 42 villas and 18 suites set on 20 acres of lush riverside wilderness just outside of Bali’s cultural heart, Ubud, is a treat unto itself. But now guests can go off-the-beaten-track and deep into nature with a chef-guided picnic adventure in the Sayan Valley.
The experience starts with a trek to a secluded riverside location in the jungle, only accessible to Four Seasons guests, where the resort’s chef will set up a camp kitchen and cook a Balinese-style picnic in the wilderness.
HA Private Island Mesa 1 Dinner
The Place: W Punta de Mita, Mexico
Offered just once per night (advance reservations required), the unique Mesa 1 dining experience at W Punta de Mita, located on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, lets guests enjoy an exclusive al fresco dinner beneath the stars.
The setting? A 100-year-old Parota tree table set on its own private island and only accessible by stones suspended over the water—and they disappear once everyone (just two people for a romantic evening or as many as 10 for a private gathering with friends and family) has been seated. The meal? A customizable seven-course tasting menu.
Vittle Art Farm-to-Table Dinner
The Place: Willemstad, Curaçao
The vibrant Dutch-Caribbean island of Curaçao has a distinctive food scene and creative culinary talent—and travelers with a taste for a private, uniquely curated dinner can book a workshop experience with Vittle Art. The farm-to-table dinner, the creation of local Curaçaoan Kris Sling, features fresh, authentic, and locally inspired dishes from his farm in the countryside.
The dinner is a personalized menu of 9-10 courses, all prepared with ingredients from the land and local ancestral cooking techniques—with plates served on an al fresco terrace at sunset, offering views of Curaçao’s cacti-filled terrain.
Six in Your Sanctuary
The Place: Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
Room service isn’t usually something to get excited about. But at St. Lucia’s cliffside Jade Mountain resort, a special dining experience—served to guests inside their three-walled open-air “Sanctuary” with its infinity pool, 24/7 butler service and sweeping views of the twin Piton mountains—is a game-changer.
“Six in Your Sanctuary” is a six-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings by Jade Mountain’s sommelier. Adding to the dreamy ambience: a serenade by an acoustic guitarist during dinner for a truly intimate experience.
The Place: Multiple Resorts in the Maldives
Dreaming of the Maldives? If so, several different dining experiences set beneath the surface of the Indian Ocean are available at private-island resorts. Options include: Ithaa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which is the first of its kind and offers 180-degree views while seated at a depth of 16 feet; SEA at the Anantara Kihavah, featuring the world’s first underwater wine cellar; 5.8 at Hurawalhi Island Resort, currently the largest all-glass undersea eatery in the world; and Subsix at Niyama Private Islands Maldives, which features sea-life-themed décor with chairs resembling sea anemones and coral-inspired chandeliers.
Sunset Water Table Dining Experience
The Place: Playa Largo Resort & Spa, Florida Keys
Feet-in-the-sand dining is old hat, but couples interested in taking their al fresco dining to the next level can head to Playa Largo Resort & Spa, a tropical oasis set on 14.5 secluded beachfront acres in the Florida Keys.
By booking the unique “Water Table Dining Experience” at the resort’s signature beachside restaurant Sol by the Sea, they’ll enjoy an intimate dinner of fresh, coastal cuisine as they kick off their shoes, dip their toes (and ankles) in the water, and have front row seats to a cotton-candy sunset beneath the soft glow of string lights.
You Hook, We Cook
The Place: Corazón Cabo Resort & Spa, Los Cabos, Mexico
Not only does the Aleta restaurant at Corazón Cabo Resort & Spa feature dazzling destination-inspired dishes—made-to-order sushi and sashimi, a raw bar featuring oysters, local clams, and ceviche, and ocean-to-table main courses—but it also has a “You Hook, We Cook” option, allowing guests to bring the fish they reeled in that day and the restaurant will prepare it however they prefer.
Cabo is known for its world-class deep-sea fishing and the resort is located just a five-minute car ride or 15-minute walk from the marina, so a sea-to-table dining experience is a convenient and delicious way to end the day.
The Place: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
Anyone who craves brunch off-hours should book a well-timed stay at Aruba Marriott Resort, which has turned it into a post-sunset party with its new “Night Brunch” experience. On the first Friday night of each month, the La Vista restaurant transforms into an indulgent brunch scene with a live DJ, colorful cocktails, and tasty brunch bites. Guests can grab a welcome drink from the Bellini wall, where glasses are surrounded by lush greenery and lit up by a neon “Cheers” sign and enjoy other Insta-worthy moments at every turn.
The multi-course experience features classic morning favorites as well as savory bites—Dutch style pancakes, sous vide eggs, chicken and waffles, red snapper, prosciutto ham bites, and fresh pizza—along with dessert favorites such as churros, banana cake, and chocolate mousse.
And what is brunch without the booze? Guests can sip Bellinis, sangria, or specialty brunch cocktails and then take a piece of the Night Brunch experience home with them, since all cocktails are served in a specially branded glass and gifted to the guest. Reservations are required.
Top Chef Winner’s Sushi Bar
The Place: Resorts World Bimini, Bahamas
Fans of Top Chef have likely drooled over some of the winning creations—and with a visit to the expansive Resorts World Bimini , a beachfront complex located on the seven-mile Bahamian island of Bimini, it’s possible to actually sample some while on vacation. Guests can taste Top Chef season three winner Hung Huynh’s delectable creations at the resort’s Asian fusion Sushi Bar.
This intimate, 24-seat dining venue allows diners to watch as their dishes are prepared right in front of them. Standouts include a variety of nigiri, sashimi, and the must-try signature Sun of a Beach Roll (made with salmon, shrimp, miso honey, and topped with a spicy sliver of jalapeño), as well as classic Asian favorites such as fried rice, pad thai, and dumplings.
Humo Unique Woodfire Grilling
The Place: Thompson Zihuatanejo, Mexico
Argentine-style asado can be enjoyed closer to home with a getaway to Thompson Zihuatanejo, where resident chef Javier Garcia Cerrillo masters the art of open-fire grilling on beautiful white-sand Playa La Ropa. Cerillo has lived and worked in countries that include Argentina, Greece and Spain and his firsthand expertise is on display at the resort’s “Humo” pop-up experience, where he works with smoke to give a very distinct and delectable flavor to his cooking.
Guests can enjoy a variety of meats, among them beef tenderloin, grilled pork ribs with chimichurri sauce and “pollo al gancho” specially grilled with herbs in its own juice. Accompanied by grilled vegetables, rustic blue cheese mashed potatoes, and smoked cheesecake for dessert, the “Humo” grill is a memorable dining experience—especially ay just $45 dollars a person.