Top 10: Island Dining Experiences

Family Dinner
Pátmos, Greece

In naming our No. 1 dining experience, it seemed pretty obvious. At the Diakofti taverna in the southwestern part of Pátmos, Greece, you'll instantly feel like you're a part of a family dinner. Because on this island, eating out means feeling like you're a long-lost relative returning home. And for travelers on faraway journeys, nothing beats a family welcome. The man playing the lyra on the right? That's Mihalis. He owns the taverna with his wife, Katerina. The man with the cane singing in a carefully chosen suit? That's Mihalis' good friend. And now he's your friend too. Mihalis' son Sozos, a local carpenter, joins lunch in time for zucchini balls, olives and calamari. Don't be sad when the meal is over. Your new Pátmos family will always leave a place at their table for you.

ISLANDS ranked the best dining experiences based on recommendations from our editors, contributors and readers. We sought meals that offer great food and a rare, once-in-a-lifetime experience on a remote island.

Mussels and Wine, New Zealand
Greenshell Mussel Cruise

Cruising the pristine waters of the Marlborough Sound, you can see why one of the world's greatest delicacies, Greenshell Mussels, grows only here. Lush, beautiful and pristine translates well to fresh, salty and delicious. Board a luxury boat with Marlborough Travel in the quaint harbor town of Havelock and slowly meander through New Zealand's iconic scenery. Your private chef will then take you to a Greenshell Mussel farm, grab some mussels from the water, steam them right on the boat and serve them with a glass of local Framingham sauvignon blanc. As if the island needed more romantic power, these native mollusks are said to be an aphrodisiac. So enjoy them with someone you love. Eat as much as you can. Seconds are surrounding you.

Picnic on a Tahitian Motu
Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort

Stepping foot on uninhabited Motu Tapu, you'll feel like a castaway washing ashore on a secret paradise. And you are. Except there's a bartender and a gourmet meal. For the next few hours this Tahitian islet is all yours. Lunch is a traditional Tahitian welcome, a picnic feast elegantly laid out under the palms: fresh sashimi, poisson cru (the ceviche-like native dish of raw tuna, coconut milk, onions, cucumbers and tomatoes), grilled lobster, lagoon fish and tropical fruits. Legend has it Motu Tapu was once the private retreat of a Polynesian queen, forbidden to everyone else, her personal sanctuary. And that serene feeling remains, mai tai in hand. When the boat comes to take you home – hide in the bushes. Gourmet lunch including transfer from $150.

14-course Kaiseki Meal
Kikunoi, Japan

It starts with a sakizuke (appetizer) of pickled sea cucumber, sliced Japanese mountain peach and ayu fish. And then it continues. For 13 more courses and three more hours. If you come back tomorrow, the entire menu will be different. Kaiseki is a carefully orchestrated production of a meal, each course with a specific meaning and intention. No detail is forgotten or unintended. And each chef with characteristics befitting an artist. So one day, you might be served shiizakana hot pot of boiled eggs, roasted eggplant and mitsuba- and sansho-flavored fish. The next day, chilled ichijiku (boiled fig) in white miso. It's a Japanese dream meal once fit for shoguns, samurai and the wealthiest merchants. Ready for the next course? Here comes the thinly sliced onaga (red snapper), then the sashimi served on a lotus leaf with sour ume (plum) sauce and wasabi mustard, then the ... Meal from $250.

Lunch on an Icelandic Glacier
Nordurflug Helicopter Tour

Thousands of feet below you are Iceland's most iconic natural phenomena – the massive Gulfoss waterfall, unpredictable Geysir and black, hardened lava fields. And on a tour with Nordurflug, the pilot will land you near all of this, safely, just in time for lunch. Grab the picnic basket that the Restaurant Silfur packed for you and have lunch on Langjökull glacier. Carve out ice cubes for your Brennivín (an Icelandic schnapps), and take a minute to listen to the pure quiet around you. This meal's highlight isn't necessarily the food. It's about where you are. And where you are makes everything taste like the best meal ever. Tours from $260.

Dive for Lobster Dinner
Four Seasons Nevis

It's kind of like a treasure hunt. But forget the gold and rare jewels. On this hunt, think tickle sticks, tiny antennae and, oh yeah, lots of butter. With the Four Seasons Nevis Dive and Dine excursion, search the waters of Monkey Shoals, Redonda Bank and High Rock for Caribbean spiny lobster on a two-tank dive with local divemaster Chaderton and chef Andreas. From 40 to 70 feet underwater, look for the hidden antennae of the timid crustaceans hiding in the reef, and then coax them out with lassos and tickle sticks. Blowfish, moray eels, nurse sharks and endangered hawksbill turtles glide by, but keep your eyes on the prize: dinner. Your hard work will pay off. Later on Pinney's Beach, watch a culinary demo by chef Andreas and toast cocktails with your new dive buddies. Grill right on the beach while the sun sets. Dinner will taste that much better knowing you caught it yourself. From $1,950 per couple.

Fiji Lovo Oven Feast
Namale Resort & Spa

Picnicking Melanesian style in Fiji means a private waterfall for skinny-dipping and a basket full of delicacies baked in a lovo oven. Don't know the difference between a lovo and a hole in the ground? That's OK because they're one and the same. Centuries ago when they grew tired of barbecuing fish and pigs, some enterprising Fijian chef stumbled on the idea of slow-roasting foods in a sand oven – and today, the art of lovo making is an honored custom passed down from one generation to the next. Namale Resort expertly recreates this traditional way of cooking on special feast nights. Pork, snapper and garlic-rubbed chicken are wrapped in banana leaves and placed over heated coral stones and then buried. Three hours later, you've got an authentic, savory meal that tastes even better the next day as leftovers. The only missing ingredient? Well, that's you. Lovo oven upon request at no extra charge.

Cook in a Volcano
Hotel Terra Nostra

No need for ovens. On Sao Miguel in the Azores, staying at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel means eating from a volcanic geyser. Surrounded by mineral and thermal hot springs in the Furnas Valley, order the cozido das furnas stew from the on-site restaurant. This is not a bland, boiled meal. They fill a pot with pork, beef, chicken, local linguiça and murcela sausages, carrots, sweet potatoes and tarot root. Then the pot will be lowered into an active geyser field next to a geyser-heated lake. Your meal will stay down in this hole for about five hours until perfectly steamed. The result? A explosion of flavor worth the wait.

Singapore Street Food
Makansutra Food Safari Tour

It's a gastronomic world's fair of flavors: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan, Eurasian. Singapore's food scene has centuries of converging influences. But oh, does it sauté, steam, fry and roast in a divine way. Tasting it all seems an impossible feat. But luckily, Singapore's 16,000-plus street vendors are now concentrated in hawker centers around the island for easy gorging access. (Some are even open 24 hours a day!) To hit the food stalls like a local, book a Makansutra Food Safari Tour with master of Singapore cuisine K. F. Seetoh. (You might recognize him as a judge from the finale of Top Chef D.C., which was shot in Singapore.) One of Seetoh's expert guides is all yours for four hours, leading you to the best hawker stands on the island. You're sure to start salivating with a menu like this: fried hokkien prawn mee, white, black and chili crabs, oyster omelet, barbecue sambal skate, char kway teow, chicken rice, bak kut teh, mee rebus, roti prata, Indian rojak. Can't decide on your favorite flavor? It's OK. That's why Singapore chose them all. Tours from $125.

Crab Festival
Kodiak Island, Alaska

Alaska's Kodiak Island is known for wildlife: brown bears, grizzly bears, elk and bald eagles, to name a few. But for five days at the beginning of summer, there's a smaller star on the island: king crab. At the Kodiak Crab Festival, about 15,000 seafood lovers converge to devour their favorite long-legged, grumpy crustacean. And they are never disappointed. Thousands of pounds of king, tanner and Dungeness crab are served at the St. Paul Harbor in downtown. Just don't forget to bring your Crabinator to get every morsel of crabby goodness out of the shell. While there are complicated recipes, simply steaming the crab is most popular, as the natural flavor of the meat is too good to ruin with heavy sauces and crazy cooking techniques. A pool of butter, however, is acceptable.