Do You ‘Sea Grapes’?

Lounging on my favorite beach chair in front of the One Love in Jost Van Dyke, I notice tons and tons of these green fruity bunches hanging from the tree above me. Sure, I’ve seen them before but I’d never seen the bountiful bunches of grapes quite like this  — since we usually don’t travel to the islands in the summer.

Curious to learn more about them, I began doing a little research and learned a lot. The fancy name for the sea grape is Coccoloba Uvifera and is a species of flowering plant that is native to coastal beaches throughout tropical America and the Caribbean.

In the summer months, the sea grape bears green fruit in large, grape-like clusters. The fruit gradually ripens to a purplish color. Each contains a large pit that constitutes most of the fruit. They’re wind resistant and moderately tolerant of shade. They’re highly tolerant to salt, so they’re often planted to stabilize beach edges. When ripened to a deep purple color, the fruit is very tasty, and can be used for jam or even eaten directly from the tree. It can also be fermented for a tasty fermented wine. (I love wine, so this makes me happy!).

I haven’t tried making this yet, but here is a yummy sea grape jelly recipe from the folks at Edible Palm Beach.


2 cups sea grapes

1 cup water

2 lemons or limes (preferably Key limes)


4. 5 cups of sugar

Wash and then boil the sea grapes in a ratio of 2 cups sea grapes to 1 cup water for 25-30 minutes, crushing occasionally, until they are soft and palatable. Drain the juice through a jelly bag into a container (without squeezing).

Pour the juice into a pot and stir in the lemon or lime juice with a wooden spoon, and then add the pectin. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and add the sugar. After it returns to a boil, let it remain boiling for one minute, always stirring.

After removing from heat, skim foam if necessary. Sterilize jars in a 5-minute boil bath. Pour juice into the jars, leaving a quarter-inch of space at the top of the jar.

Chill, and enjoy!

A note of caution, sea grapes may look tempting at the beach, but don’t harvest them there. Sea grapes are often protected because their purpose is to help prevent sand erosion and give protection to native birds and sea turtles. 


Packing for Paradise

So excited to be escaping to my beloved islands soon! I’m getting pretty good at this packing game – after a dozen plus years of experience.  It’s funny how you get into a groove for packing to the islands.

I pack by some very simple rules:

PACK LIGHT. Carry-on only. No way will we wait for our bags on a carousel or risk lost bags. We limit ourselves to a carry-on plus a small “fun” bag (guitar, snorkel gear etc). This is in sharp contrast to our first trip together to Key West where I had to move multiple pairs of shoes from my bag to my hubby’s because mine weighed too much. Imagine that – at the counter = shoving shoes into his bag. Never again – two pairs – just brown and black flip flops for me now!IMG_2435

PACK WATERPROOF: With all the ferries needed to get to our bliss, we usually just bring waterproof backpacks. But thanks to my broken foot (almost healed!), I get to use a hybrid backpack with wheels. Cheating this trip for sure.

PACK ACCORDING TO WEIGHT: Fashion is second to weight when packing for the Islands. I give all items the ‘weight test’ and tend to only buy things that are light and flowy. Even my very favorites stay behind if 15134822_10207963321425828_6248460383660843588_nthey don’t pass this test.

TOILETRIES: As mentioned above, only bringing carry-on means I have to make a quart sized bag hold all my junk for 10 days. After years of doing this, I’ve learned some shortcuts. Bar soap instead of body wash; sunscreen solids instead of lotions; and bug repellant bands instead too. Luckily, there is no such thing as a “hairstyle” down there (think beach waves!) so not much need for any of that junk.

KEEPING SAFE: Despite being in bliss, bad people exist everywhere (or more likely it’s just drunk tourists). This year we’re trying out the LocTote. Just lock this small backpack to our beach chair (or tree branch) and hopefully no more lost sunglasses or phones. Will let you know how that goes!

Oh yeah – one more must. When you land, make sure to get the free shot of Island Rum! And keep it flowing!

Stay tuned!