It’s no secret that one of the best ways to immerse yourself in any destination is to sample its cuisine. And if you happen to be in a coastal country – or on an island – chances are there’s plenty of delicious local seafood just waiting to be devoured.
Certain places around the world are especially well known for ‘sea-to-table’ cuisine. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite spots to sample fresh-caught fish and other marine delicacies. Each one has its own signature specialty; think oysters in Ireland and Morocco, octopus in Portugal and Greece, crab in Singapore and Japan… and that’s just a small taste.
From the shores of South America and the Australian coast to the edge of the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, these are the world’s best destinations for seafood lovers.
1. Peru – Savour Astoundingly Fresh Ceviche
There’s nothing quite like an authentic ceviche, and Peru is the world capital of this unique dish. It consists of raw fish or seafood that’s marinated in lime or lemon juice, along with seasonings like ají pepper and red onion. The acidic citrus juice cures the seafood so it’s safe to eat without cooking, which allows you to experience the full complexity of its natural flavour.
2. Patagonia – Feast on King Crab at the End of the World
When you venture all the way down to Chilean Patagonia, you’re bound to have some one-of-a-kind experiences. If you’re a seafood lover, make sure that dining on king crab on Navarino Island is one of them. This remote and rugged destination is best known for this legendary specialty, but you can also enjoy octopus and other locally caught delights.
3. Portugal – Sample Salt Cod, Sardines and Octopus
In Portugal, seafood is more than just sustenance; it’s an integral part of the national identity. The country’s most iconic dish is bacalhau (salt cod), which is prepared in dozens of different ways. But each town and city also has its own specialties. Don’t miss out on fresh octopus, sardines, sea bass or bream, and grab some conservas (canned seafood) for the road.
4. Ireland – Enjoy Oysters in Galway
The lovely city of Galway has plenty to offer, including some of the best oysters in Ireland – and maybe even the world. In the autumn and winter you can try freshly harvested native oysters, with their own distinct shape and flavour. Come in September to experience the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival, which has been running for over 60 years.
5. Greece – Indulge in Squid, Shrimp and Mussels Galore
The Mediterranean cuisine of Greece is truly something special, and seafood plays a starring role. This country boasts 16,000 kilometres of coastline and hundreds of islands, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find everything from octopus and shrimp to mussels and fresh fish. When in doubt, order shrimp saganaki or crispy fried squid – you won’t be disappointed.
6. Australia – Taste Barramundi in the Northern Territory
The island nation of Australia is positively bursting with natural wonders, but its culinary culture is equally worth exploring. You can’t leave without tasting barramundi – also known as Asian sea bass – a mild white fish that pairs perfectly with a local white wine. It’s especially common in the Northern Territory, where you’ll find stunning beaches far off the beaten track.
7. Singapore – Experience the Iconic Chilli Crab
Singapore is a foodie destination unlike any other. It offers both fine dining and a vibrant street food scene where you can tuck into cuisines from all over Asia. In terms of seafood, the spectacular chilli crab stands out. This emblematic dish consists of stir-fried crab meat in a sweet and savoury sauce of tomato and chilli – an absolute must-eat on any trip to Singapore.
8. South Korea – See the Amazing Haenyo Dive for Seafood
The seafood of South Korea is undeniably delicious, but for a truly unique experience, head to Jeju Island. This is where you’ll find the haenyeo, or ‘sea women’: female divers who collect oysters, octopus, urchins, conch and other delicacies from deep in the ocean. Seeing this ancient tradition in action – and of course tasting the harvest – is entirely unforgettable.
9. Japan – Eat Snow Crab in Kanazawa
Japan is composed of thousands of islands, making it a dream destination for seafood lovers. Fresh fish figures prominently in Japanese cuisine, and we’re not just talking about sushi. We highly recommend a trip to the coastal city of Kanazawa in winter, when you’ll find delectable local Kano crabs (also known as snow crabs) all throughout its street stalls and markets.
10. Mauritius – Try Surprising Specialties from the Sea
Mauritius is full of charming fishing villages and it is surrounded by the waters of the Indian Ocean. Locals take full advantage of this by incorporating everything from lobster and squid to smoked fish and molluscs into their cuisine. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the kono kono: a sea snail that’s said to be a powerful aphrodisiac.
11. Morocco – Find Fresh Fish and Oysters in Essaouira
Seafood might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Moroccan food, but in the port town of Essaouira, it’s the star of the menu. Blue fishing boats bob in the waters of the Atlantic, hinting at the freshly caught treats you’ll find in the city’s restaurants and street food stands. Try to make room among all the grilled fish for some world-class oysters.
12. South Africa – Go Mussel Picking on the Whale Coast
As its name suggests, South Africa’s Whale Coast is ideal for spotting whales, sharks and other marine life. It’s also the perfect place to sample some of the country’s best seafood. For the complete experience, visit the luxurious Birkenhead House, where you can collect your own mussels from the rocks – and then enjoy them as part of an exquisite gourmet meal.