Globe-trotting gourmands can take their culinary credentials to another level by seeking out unique, interactive experiences in which they truly work for their meal. These notable luxury resorts, clandestine restaurants, and innovative tour providers let amateurs try activities such as white-knuckle sport fishing, traditional truffle hunting, and digging for giant clams, with an added bonus of being able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Whether you’re looking for an immersive foodie challenge, or a hands-on educational experience, you’ll want to add these travel-worthy experiences to your culinary bucket list.
Canada’s maritime provinces are the source of fresh, world-class seafood year round. Gourmands exploring the heart of central Newfoundland are wise to visit Indian Falls Chalets, which offers salmon fly-fishing and smoking workshops. Guests spend a day on the Indian River mastering the art of fly-fishing for Atlantic salmon and brook trout, then take part in a smoking workshop in which they learn how to prepare and smoke local salmon from start to finish.
In New Brunswick, Cielo Glamping Maritime invites guests to harvest their own oysters while on a stand-up paddleboard in the Bay of St. Simon. After harvesting and shucking, they get to taste the difference between those harvested at water temperature, served on ice, and charbroiled to perfection.
Prince Edward Island’s Tranquility Cove Adventures delights with clam digging tours to the deserted island of Boughton. After enough clams are harvested by guests, the party moves to the beach, where clams are steamed in saltwater. The experience also includes the chance to haul a lobster trap, crab pot, and mussel sock, plus a lesson on each fishery.
Thailand delights visitors with a cornucopia of culinary activities, including many cooking classes and market tours. Halfway between Phuket and Krabi lies the less crowded island of Koh Yao Noi, home to the chic Cape Kudu Hotel. A must for any seafood lovers, the hotel supports its local community through joining local fishermen to forage for shellfish, the types of which vary due to tides and seasons. After taking a calming boat trip around the stunning island, during which guests can scour beaches for shellfish, their booty can then be taken back to the hotel for the culinary team to prepare a delicious meal.
Set along Phang Nga Bay, one of the world’s most spectacular seascapes, travelers will find the serene Six Senses Koh Yao Noi, a luxury wellness retreat offering various gourmet experiences. Guests can take a classic long-tail boat to visit a local floating fish farm and select their own fresh catch for chefs to prepare back at the resort. Plus, Thai cooking classes feature an interactive tour through the resort’s organic Thai vegetable garden.
Foodies have been flocking to Istria, the westernmost region of Croatia, to try their hand at truffle hunting. The specific scent that comes from truffles in damp soil is impossible for humans to discern, so trained dogs are used to assist the hunt. Karli Tartufi, Pietro & Pietro, and Prodan Tartufi, a trio of family-run businesses, share their traditions while letting guests enjoy both the challenge of finding truffles in the wild, preparing said truffles, and sampling a range of truffle products and delicacies.
Hawaii Island’s most acclaimed luxury resort, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, offers a sustainable fishing experience exclusively to its guests. After a private, marine biologist-led tour of a state-of-the-art Kanpachi farm, participants board the resort’s Ribcraft boat to view the open-ocean pens and a fish feeding session. On the way back to the resort, guests can work up an appetite by snorkeling with spinner dolphins, tropical fish, and Hawaiian sea turtles, then finally settle in for a customized, five-course wine dinner in which the Kanpachi is prepared in various ways.
Over on Kauai, The Lodge at Kukui’ula, a Destination by Hyatt hotel, lets guests embark on the Mahealani, a 35-foot fishing boat used for expeditions in fish-filled waters. Ahi, mahi, and marlin are the typical catches of the day for guests, many of whom are all too happy to offload their fruits of the sea to the resort’s culinary team, which then transforms the fish into a delicious feast. There’s also a kayak fishing adventure in which participants drop a line into the water and bring the fresh catch back to be prepped at the resort. Guests can explore the 10-acre farm, picking their own fruit, vegetables, herbs, and eggs to enjoy later on.
Located along the majestic Seto Inland Sea is Japan’s udon capital: Kagawa. The area has been perfecting the art of the sanuki udon noodle for centuries, and is home to more than 600 udon restaurants. In Mitoyo City, Udon House is an udon-themed hotel where guests learn the art of udon making from local specialists, visit a nearby farm to learn about the native agriculture and pick fresh udon toppings, and embark on udon-hopping journeys in which a guide directs them to the neighborhood’s best hole-in-the-wall udon restaurants.
A few hours southwest of Tokyo lie the calm, brackish waters of Lake Hamana—the source of some of the most coveted seafood in Japan. In the coastal city of Hamamatsu, visitors can book a private evening fishing and dining experience on the lake with a local fisherman, learning the traditional method for fishing with only a spear and a net, and catching your meal. When satisfied with the haul of crab, octopus, and fish, the fisherman pilots the boat to a floating restaurant on the lake, where the catch is cooked and served.
Tea enthusiasts can learn the ancient art of tea making in the rural village of Hida-Kanayama, Gifu Prefecture. There, visitors pick the highly prized local green tea, Ikusato. After time spent harvesting the leaves in a bamboo basket, participants revel in the ancient ways of brewing tea using a large pot over firewood, with fresh water pumped directly from a well.
Lobster lovers come from across the globe to sample Maine’s most famous crustacean. At the legendary White Barn Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection, in the charming town of Kennebunk, guests learn about the lobster fishing industry and its sustainable future during a private tour along the coast. The main event comes when they try their hand at emptying lobster traps. Once back on dry land, guests meet with the resort’s chef and select the lobsters, then move on to a cooking class with the chef to earn their lunch.
Some of the Maldives’ most notable resorts tempt with fun, food-focused activities. In the South Malé atoll, COMO Cocoa Island lets guests try the local pastime in the form of reef bottom fishing for humpback snapper and grouper at sunset. Game fishing is also available, as guests can take the resort’s sports fishing boat to travel between reefs, with the guaranteed thrill of fighting bluefin trevally, snappers, and dogtooth tuna. After either activity, the fresh catch can be cooked by the resort’s chefs for lunch or dinner the next day. COMO Maalifushi, the only resort in the Thaa Atoll, also offers sunset reef bottom fishing to its guests, who can catch red snapper, grouper, and barracuda, then hand it over to the resort’s chefs.
Soneva Fushi, a luxury resort in the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, provides a unique dining experience at its Shades of Green, a 20-seat plant-based restaurant in the resort’s organic garden. To begin, guests are guided through the garden to examine, pick, and taste its herbs, vegetables, and fruits, ultimately choosing which ingredients should be used in their meal.
Nestled in the Alpine region of Arosa is the Tschuggen Grand Hotel, which each summer hosts a variety of outdoor experiences, including a mushroom picking and cooking class. After mushroom hunting in the forests, guests make a secret mushroom risotto recipe.
For travelers to Zurich who want to explore the city’s iconic lake, the tony Park Hyatt Zurich offers a Lake Zurich leisure cruise experience where guests have the chance to fish in the crystal clear waters and even take a dip. Afterward, the fresh catch can be prepped alongside a gourmet menu at the hotel’s signature restaurant, parkhuus.
Minaret Station Alpine Lodge’s heli-fishing and seafood adventure is a must for any thrill-seeking fish lover visiting New Zealand’s rugged West Coast. After a scenic helicopter ride, the crew collects crayfish pots from the frigid waters using the helicopter while guests wait on the beach; the bounty is then prepared into a gourmet picnic lunch with a mountain backdrop.
One of the country’s most lauded luxury resorts, Kauri Cliffs, might be best known for its stunning ocean views and championship golf course, but it also impresses with foodie activities such as land-based fishing. Guests join a local guide at one of the property’s private beaches to test their skill at hooking snapper or kahawai; the fresh catch can be brought back to the lodge, where the chef will prepare it for dinner.
Hidden among 2,500 acres of native forest in Rotorua, Treetops Lodge & Estate offers a Maori food trail in which guests slip into the wilderness in search of native plants and herbs, while learning about the nutritional and medicinal properties, as well as ties with Maori cultural traditions. Participants sample what they find and harvest it for chefs to use at the resort. There’s also a “wild food” cooking school, where guests forage for native ingredients, then gather at the kitchen table to share a unique cooking and dining experience.