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Where to Provision this Year: A Cruiser’s Guide

Whether you island-hop sail the ‘Thorny Path’, go offshore and direct, or ship your vessel to the Caribbean, there’s one thing you’ll want to do once you arrive: provision. All islands offer food for sale. However, the size and number of stores varies from no more than convenience-type markets with a bulk of canned goods, to Puerto Rico’s find-anything-you-want Wal-Mart-owned Supermercados Amigo.  Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find:

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Major marinas such as Casa de Campo and Ocean World boast excellent supermarkets within walking distance. In other areas, large towns and small have corner stores and supermarkets where you can find all types of foods. Dominican ingredients take up much of the shelf space, but there are also many North American and European-made products. Health foods, vegetarian products and low-calorie foods can be found in supermarkets in the larger resort areas.

PUERTO RICO

Pueblo—under new management and with a recent facelift—as well as Supermercados Amigo, Grande, Econo and SuperMax are major supermarkets. There are a number of smaller stores at marinas and nearby in the Fajardo area, as well as the ports of Salinas and Ponce on the south and Boqueron to the west. You’ll also find foods sold by roadside vendors, everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to Puerto Rico’s delicious lechón or roast suckling pig.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

Warehouse-type stores, Pricemart and Cost-U-Less, and large mainland-like supermarkets Plaza Extra and Pueblo, are found on both St. Thomas and St. Croix. There are also a couple of neat ‘finds’. On St. Croix, Lori’s Deli is within walking distance of Teague Bay and the St. Croix Yacht Club. On St. John, Starfish Market boasts an in-house chef who daily prepares to-go selections, and offers fresh produce, cheeses, meats, and bakery goods plus wine and liquor in an adjacent store.

On St. Thomas, The Fruit Bowl in the Wheatley Shopping Center has tripled its retail space with a renovation that means “a brand new everything,” says general manager David Goldberg.  Fresh prime and choice meats as well as seafoods are now flown down from New York along with fresh produce and bakery goods such as real NYC-style bagels.  “You’ll see a big table of fresh produce when you first walk in,” says Goldberg. “We have the room for more variety, as well as more organic items.”  The store now offers Thai, Asian and Indian foods as well as a fresh soup station, salad bar, nut display and prepared salads to go that include specialties such as wakame and octopus.

“We offer pick up, drop off and free delivery service to and from all marinas on St. Thomas,” says Goldberg. “You can also fax or Email us your order.”

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

Bobby’s Supermarket in Road Town, Tortola, with satellite stores at Nanny Cay Marina and Cane Garden Bay, is a full-service supermarket with an active provisioning service. In-store, cruisers usually aim for the beverages as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. “Prepared fruit platters and sandwich platters are popular with cruisers,” says Sean, who adds, “We do deliver to boats and marinas.”

Riteway Food Market is another popular supermarket, and Ample Hamper is a gourmet grocery with lots of neat finds. The Best of British shop, in Road Town, offers a great selection of imported British foods.

On Jost Van Dyke, you can find basics at Christine’s Bakery and Rudy’s Superette, both in Great Harbour. On Virgin Gorda, head to Buck’s Food Market in Spanish Town or Leverick Bay for general shopping, and to The Emporium at the Bitter End Yacht Club for scrumptious chef-prepared fare to go.

ST. MAARTEN-ST. MARTIN

Grand Marché is one of the biggest supermarket chains in St. Maarten/St. Martin, with locations at Bush Road, Cole Bay & Simpson Bay. Each has a large variety of international products, flown-in produce, certified Angus beef and good selection of French cheeses and Dutch Goudas, hams and pates.

This season, “We’re bringing in more organic products and specialty foods such as Kosher, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, French and Dutch. With the holidays approaching, we’ll also bring in chocolates, cookies, foie gras, caviar and duck breast,” says general manager Prakash Sujanani, who says marina delivery is available.

The Cole Bay supermarket carries more than 2500 wines from France, Italy, Spain, California, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and Australia.

St. Maarten-St. Martin also has several smaller stores, gourmet groceries, delis and bakeries that offer a wonderfully global selection.

ANTIGUA

There are several large and small supermarkets here as well as roadside produce vendors and fish sellers at the ports. Gourmet goods are available at Gourmet Basket, located within the Island Provision Complex on Sir George H. Walter Highway.

Epicurean Supermarket, at the Jolly Harbour Marina, is a large one-stop shop that also offers a deli complete with meats, cheeses, take-out foods and on-site bakery. There’s also a sizeable selection of beer, wines and non-alcoholic beverages.

ST. LUCIA

Super J’s is the main supermarket chain on St. Lucia, with island wide outlets including at Rodney Bay Marina. To the south, Marigourmet Supermarket is located at the Marina at Discovery Bay in Marigot.

Raoul Massé, store manager, says, “We are selling unique items to the island such as Sushi products and French cheeses. This season, we have expanded varieties of cheeses and wines. Like last year, we will get in game meats, fresh fish fillets and USDA prime and choice beef for the holidays.”

Regarding beverages, Massé says, “We have all sorts of beers and a wide range of French and Europe and new world selections in wines.”  Marigourmet will provision for yachts locally and to both Soufriere and Rodney Bay.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Hi-Lo Stores is the largest supermarket chain in the islands, and there’s a small store located at Crews Inn marina in Chaguaramas. There’s a bigger version of this chain located in the West Mall Compound, about a 20 minute drive away. Dockside Supermarket at Power Boats is small, but stocks the essentials. If you really want to load up, head to PriceSmart, in the MovieTowne Shopping Center about 35 minutes drive out of town. This warehouse-style store operates on a club format, but one-day passes are available.

Gina Carvalho, YSATT administrator, says, “The fresh fruit and vegetable market, also called the Central Market in Port of Spain, is where you can find anything. There is a wholesale section where you can buy in bulk.  There is also a fresh meat, seafood and poultry section as well. Farmers bring in their livestock fresh from the abattoir and you can select your cuts of meat. Lots of fresh fish and shrimp, too. Port of Spain is about a 40-minute drive from Chaguaramas. The best time to go shopping is between 6:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday.”

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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