Provisioning options change regularly, so while there’s no great reliability in this list of our preferred provisioning locations, it is a start. The best advice we can give is to ask other cruisers for local knowledge, especially if you are looking for something hard to find – often someone will know where you can buy it, and often in the oddest places!
Mexico – Yucatan — Major provisioning available in Cancun, good in Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, Puerta Adventuras and Puerto Morales. On the Pacific side, major provisioning is available in all the big cities on the coast – Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, San Carlos, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Acapulco and Zihuatanejo. Provisioning in smaller cities is generally good, in towns you’ll get staples only, and in fishing villages you’ll find supplies quite limited. While in Isla, don’t miss the Mexican Navy tienda, plus the beer & coke distributorships are good for picking up “reasonably” priced beer & pop.
Belize – Major provisioning available in Belize City, pretty extensive in San Pedro, good in Caye Caulker and Placencia, especially at Wallen’s and the chinese supermarket. otherwise, small shops and little choice. In Placencia BZ, don’t miss David’s Veggie Market, sometimes he even has fresh herbs – ask him for when they’ll be in. Be sure to bring any liquor/beer/wine with you as it is super expensive all over Belize due to taxation.
Honduras – Major Provisioning available in French Cay (especially Eldon’s Supermercado) and Coxen Hole, Roatan; LaCeiba; Utila is pretty good, refills available in BonacaTown, Guanaja and West End, Roatan.
Panama: Major Provisioning available in Panama City–try Riba Smith’s for an outstanding selection of US items, PriceSmart and the Rey are other good choices; Colon has a good Rey Supermercado. The San Blas has only tiny Kuna tiendas that stock tiny bottles of bleach, rice and some staples. There are “veggie boats” that come out from the mainland, weather permitting, but there can be weeks at a time that they won’t be able to come out. Come to the San Blas fully provisioned for the extent of your stay … including propane. You will be able to buy fresh veggies in Nargana occasionally and sometimes frozen chickens from guys in wooden Cayucos or the veggie boat that visits the major anchorages–the East Lemmons, the Swimming Pool and Hot Tub in the Holendes, Green Island and the Cocos Banderos. You can even ask for phone cards – sometimes he can fulfill cell phone prepaid needs and sometimes not. Of course these small boats come long distances over open ocean, so if the weather isn’t cooperating, you won’t see them.
Providencia and San Andres: Good restocking available with even specialty items and cheeses available in the gourmet shop in San Andres, but nothing is predictable. And don’t expect to find the same types of gourmet cheese and items in Cartagena that you may find in San Andreas – the mainland seems to have different stuff – go figure. These are small islands at the mercy of the Columbian trading vessels and the weather. We were able to restock some canned goods and vegetables, but meats were slim both times we were there. Buy fresh fish from local fishermen.
Cartagena: Cartagena is a large city and provisions are readily available albeit expensive. If you plan to cruise the Columbian coastal islands, be sure to stock up, other than Baru, tiendas are small and vary widely. Sapzurro (on the border between Columbia and Panama) has two small tiendas that sometimes have fresh vegetables and a minimal selection of canned goods such as baked beans.
Guatemala: On the Pacific side there are only small supermarkets near the coast; larger ones are about an hour taxi ride away. On the Caribbean side, most boats check in at Livingston, but don’t dally due to safety concerns (local knowledge is invaluable, so ask). On up the Rio Dulce, Fronteras has provisioning at Reed’s Tienda (better known as Chiki’s) on the waterfront, the SuperMega in town (the giant yellow building), Mirium’s and also the orphanage store. The orphanage has supply boats/pangas that stop at the boats in marinas with good meat, eggs and hard to get delicacies. Check with the locals for more recent information. And don’t miss whatever the name is of the little specialty store behind Bruno’s – the name changes it seems monthly, so just go look. We were able to get really tasty turkey pastrami and boneless skinless chicken breasts there, as well as some “gourmet” items not found elsewhere, for a price, of course. In addition, there’s a little cruiser store at Mario’s Marina that is worth checking.
Since provisioning options change constantly, if you’ve cruised these areas, please let everyone know about better stores by leaving a comment! THX! Jan