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Food + Drink

11 Must-Try Beach Eats

Deep-fried, drizzled, drawn butter. Three phrases you don’t normally associate with beach and bikinis. But these getaways are just as famous for their legendary bites as they are for their surf and sand. Here's our list of the world's most iconic beach foods and where to try them. Eat up.

See recent posts by Clara Sedlak

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Photo by Daryl Getman


Lobster Roll in Kennebunkport, ME

In Maine, there's only one way to eat your lobster: cold, mixed with a little mayo and served on a New England split-top bun, buttered and toasted. To sample the best around, head to the no-frills Clam Shack in postcard-perfect Kennebunkport. The meat from a one-pound crustacean will cost you $17, but after one bite, you'll never look back.

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Salt Water Taffy in Atlantic City, NJ

In the 1880s, the iconic beach bite “salt water taffy,” was born and it’s since been synonymous with the Jersey Shore. There’s no shortage of places to try the salty-sweet stuff, but we love the family-owned, 130-year-old Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy and James’ Salt Water Taffy, in Atlantic City. Blueberry, Sour Cherry, Cookie Dough, Watermelon, Bay Breeze, Peanut Butter & Jelly—the list of flavors goes on and only gets better.

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Fish Taco in Maui, HI

The only thing you’ll see more than flowered shirts in Hawaii is a plate of grilled, or fried, fish piled on a soft flour tortilla. And frankly, we don’t think one tastes nearly as good without the other. The tacos in Maui are equally as laidback as the island's vibe, with the catch-of-the-day as the star ingredient. For fresh fish (mahi-mahi and ono), head to Coconut’s Fish Cafe, where you can choose from more than 15 ingredients, including coleslaw and mango salsa.

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Alcapurrias in Culebra, PR

This list wouldn’t be complete without a deep-fried and stuffed specialty. Thank the Puerto Ricans for alcapurrias, a fritter dish that you’ll find at roadside stands all over the country. The slightly sweet dough, made with mashed green bananas and grated yautia (taro root), surrounds a more savory mixture of picadillo (spiced ground beef) and is served in a grab-n-go snack bag. To sample the dish in a jaw-dropping setting, bring yours to the white-sand Flamenco Beach.

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Jerk Chicken in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Spicy Jamaican jerk chicken. Yes, please. It’s said that native Arawak Indians first smoked and dried meat in the sun to make jerky; then African refugees escaped to Jamaica and introduced the spices, now known as the “jerk” in jerk chicken. The recipe has evolved over the years and is now typically smoked over pimento wood. Go to Scotchies in Montego Bay, an open-air eatery packed with die-hard locals that turns out the Jamaican staple alongside rice and beans, cornbread fritters and Red Stripes, of course.

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Key Lime Pie in Key West, FL

The Keys. It’s the land of eternal sunshine, white-sand beaches and sweltering days. It’s no wonder the region’s signature dish is the refreshing Key Lime Pie topped with whipped cream (Fun fact: it’s the official state pie of Florida). Get a slice at the green clapboard Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. Hey, if it’s good enough for Jimmy Buffett.

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Açaí Berry Smoothie in Rio, Brazil

It’s widely touted as one of the earth’s super foods. The açaí palm is native to Brazil, and you’ll find the famed fruit everywhere, in cosmetics and cocktails, and even suntan oil. In honor of the country’s perfectly chiseled bodies (ahem, Gisele Bundchen, Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima are all from here) and glowing skin, order an açaí berry smoothie at Ipanema or Copacabana, two of the country’s sexiest beaches. You’ll find vendors hawking the “youthberry” on nearly every one-mile stretch.

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Guacamole and Tortilla Chips in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

In the 16th century, Aztec women would make bowls of ahuacamolli, or guacamole, to please the Aztec emperor, Montezuma. They peeled the skins from the ripened fruit, discarded the pits, added vine-ripe tomatoes, green chilies and sea salt, and served it with warm corn tortillas. Where to sample some of the best in Mexico now? Cult favorite Carboncitos, in the beach town of Playa del Carmen. The vibe is low-key with tables that spill onto the street of a side alley (no shirt or shoes required), and the guac is highly addictive.

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Coconut Milk Sticky Rice with Mangoes in Phuket, Thailand

It’s on practically every dessert menu in Thailand. Khao niaow ma muang, or coconut sticky rice with mangoes, is the national treat, and it’s best enjoyed in the open air. We love the slice at The Beach Bar in Cape Panwa, Phuket, just a short stroll from the Panwa Beach Resort. Snag a table on the sand surrounded by tiki torches, and watch the sunset while you savor every mouthwatering bite.

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Nathan’s Hot Dog in New York

It’s the classic self-made-man story. Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker started a hot dog stand on New York’s Coney Island with just $300 he borrowed from friends and a killer spice recipe that his wife, Ida, and her grandmother had perfected over the years. Handwerker’s original Nathan's still stands in the same spot it did in 1916 when he first began peddling the hot dogs. The rest is history.

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Halo-Halo in Manila, Philippines

Filipinos have created many summer treats to beat Southeast Asia’s scorching heat but one reigns supreme: halo-halo. Its made with a tall glass of shaved ice, evaporated milk and layers of various ingredients, from red beans and coconut, to purple yams, sweet potato and mango ice cream. Recipes vary widely from region to region, but you can always count on a dusting of sugar on top. Order yours from Aling Banang’s, which opened in 1930 as a small food stand. The first item on their menu? Halo-halo, of course.



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