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Light your fire: Our Guide to Caribbean Aphrodisiacs

by Melanie Reffes

Turks & Caicos food table. Martin A Lingnau, Mermaid Pictures

Turks & Caicos. Photo Credit: Martin A Lingnau, Mermaid Pictures

Yes, it’s true that a butler-drawn rose petal-scented bath and a rum aperitif at sunset may get some couples in the mood, but the real deal are the natural mood-enhancers that grow on trees or wash up on the beach that really get the juices flowing. From nibbling oysters, conch and chocolate to sipping herb-infused cocktails, our list of Caribbean aphrodisiacs will launch your mojo into high gear.

Jamaica: Got Your Goat?

Jamaica Mannish Water. Bill Moore

Jamaica. Photo Credit: Bill Moore

It may not sound particularly appetizing unless you’re a fan of soup made with a goat head and simmered in a Dutch pot or ‘dutchie’ for many hours over an outdoor flame, but add yams, green bananas, root vegetables, potatoes and dumplings and you’ve got a love tonic known around Jamaica as “Mannish Water.” Presumably it’s so named because it’s popular with grooms on their wedding night. Packed with carbs and protein, as well as local legends, the thick soup inspired the Rolling Stones ‘ Goats Head Soup ‘ album presumably because Mick and the boys are fans. The hearty soup is ladled island-wide with especially good bowls reputed to be served at the Ultimate Jerk Centre across from the Green Grotto Caves in Discovery Bay and Faith’s Pen in Ocho Rios where Miss Cherry is delighted to extol its aphrodisiac powers.

Curacao: Take Your Medicine

Curacao herb garden. Melanie Reffes

Curacao. Photo Credit: Melanie Reffes

Braised for three weeks in a big pot with brandy, the green leaves and roots of the plant called “Watakeli” are Dinah Verris’ prescription for a homerun in the bedroom. On a one-woman crusade to preserve the island’s healing traditions, her “Den Paradera” is an aromatic botanical wonderland that is open for tours and classes. As the go-to herb guru and natural healer, Dinah recommends one tablespoon nightly for two weeks and then as needed. For men only, the brew heightens the libido without any (undesired) side effects. If you’re not up to steeping, straining and bottling the brew yourself, a small bottle goes for USD $25.00 in her gift shop.

Dominica: Bark With Bite

Dominica Bois Bande Bush Rum. Rosalie Bay

Dominica. Photo Credit: Rosalie Bay

Rife with stamina-enhancing minerals, the bark from the Bois Bande tree is the nature islands answer to Viagra. No prescription needed, the magical medicinal loosely translated from the French words for “potency wood” is soaked in rum, brewed in tea, powdered in capsules or blended with wine. Not always eager to let the cat out of the bag, some locals prefer to keep the secret to themselves while others eagerly sell it to tourists. Sometimes called “mountain spice,” the mighty brew works immediately and remains effective for three days.

Dominican Republic: Hot Stuff

Dominican Republica Mamajuana. Melanie Reffes

Dominican Republic. Photo Credit: Melanie Reffes

This one isn’t sipped for its flavor. Twigs and leaves are soaked in rum, wine and honey, to make something called ‘mamajuana or ‘el para pol,’ roughly translating to ‘lift the stick.’ First used by the Tainos, the heady brew in pretty hand-painted bottles is sold on street corners, on the beach and in gift shops at the resorts in Punta Cana. Deep red in color and with a taste similar to port wine, some recipes add gin to the mix while others add cinnamon, generic manufacturers of ativan raisins, red wine, molasses and lemon juice to cut the bitterness. For maximum results, mamajuana master brewers might also add conch, octopus or the private parts of a sea turtle.

St. Maarten: The Big Slice

St. Maarten Bushman with a watermelon. Melanie Reffes

St. Maarten. Photo Credit: Melanie Reffes

Admittedly not the sexiest fruit on the planet, watermelon is full of one of Cupid’s little helpers that increases circulation and relaxes blood vessels in various body parts. Although most of the plant-based amino acid that is responsible for these beneficial effects is in the rind, there’s enough in the flesh to get your groove back. As one of a handful of farmers in the Caribbean who grow watermelons, Ras Bushman is delighted to brag about the sexy benefits of the big fruit, and offers tours of his watermelon patches along with farms on the Dutch and French sides of the dual-island nation. The funky farmer will also regale you with local lore over a big slice back in his Ital vegetarian restaurant on Bush Road.

St. Lucia: Sweet and Sinful

St. Lucia Cocoa Juvenate Spa. Hotel Chocolat

St. Lucia. Photo Credit: Hotel Chocolat

A popular island for romance, St. Lucia is also adored for producing some of the finest chocolate in the world. Catnip for honeymooning choco-philes, dark chocolate causes a spike in dopamine which means a spike in frisky behavior. Upping the ante for couples who like to spice it up, hotels and resorts tempt wannabee lovebirds with cocoa massages and chocolate-y desserts like the Double Fudge Cake at the Calabash Cove Resort and chocolate-making classes at the deliciously named Hotel Chocolat.

Turks & Caicos Islands: Crafty Conch

Turks & Caicos visitors enjoy conch at Da Shack. Martin A Lingnau, Mermaid Pictures

Turks & Caicos. Photo Credit: Martin A Lingnau, Mermaid Pictures

The word on the street is that any Casanova worth his sea salt eats at least fifty conch pistols a day, that gooey part of the conch’s anatomy that looks like a worm and is eaten raw. Full of protein, iron and calcium, the gastropod’s slimy private parts are the big draw at Da Conch Shack in the Blue Hills where couples in the mood learn how to skillfully down a few of the translucent strands. A few steps from the beachfront tables, Zab-Zab, the resident conch expert and father of eight, delicately removes the pistols from the pink shells and if you ask him nicely, he’ll pose for a photo as he explains how the islands natural fertility drug increases fertility. Stay for a Turk’s Head beer and plate of conch fritters with a dab of Sakaja — the local hot pepper sauce — as well as the view of passing pelicans.

Aruba: On the Half Shell

Aruba Ritz Carlton Raw Bar, Les Crustaces. Ritz Carlton

Aruba. Photo Credit: Ritz Carlton

High in amino acids that trigger sex hormones, oysters top the list of edible aphrodisiacs. There’s even some scientific proof behind the claim: The smooth mollusks also pack a lot of zinc which is believed to spike testosterone. Just eating them can get the mind in the mood, and although a dozen on the half shell can’t turn every guy into a Romeo, couples will have fun trying. Expertly shucked at Les Crustacés at the Ritz-Carlton , the tasty treats are perfectly paired with a flute of champagne and a Bano pa Dos massage in a secluded spa sanctuary where couples are discreetly served a glass of bubbly and a plate of chocolate covered strawberries.


Light Your Fire: Our Guide To Caribbean Aphrodisiacs