This Whimsical Roadside Shop Offers Lunch Alongside Hummingbirds, But The Real Highlight Is the Homemade Ice Cream

As a bonus, this ice cream really helps you eat your veggies.

Ice cream from Shurland Nature Park

Shurland Nature Park

You may be familiar with Trinidad & Tobago’s Carnival celebrations. You could even recognize its azure waters and sugar-sand beaches in a photograph. But what you may not know is that the island nation is home to some seriously tasty ice cream — and that it’s made from a surprisingly delicious local ingredient. 

Amid Main Ridge Nature Reserve on the island of Tobago sits what can only be described as a slice — or rather a scoop — of paradise. That’s where you’ll find Shurland’s Nature Park, an open-air cafe and hummingbird sanctuary run by Shurland James. 

Here, guests can unwind as they’re surrounded by the quaint fluttering creators who buzz from one corner to the next for as long as they wish while looking out at Bloody Bay. While visiting with James, guests can indulge in homemade local meals, including traditional bites of fish, chicken, or vegetables cooked in locally sourced spices. All meals come with sides like vegetable rice, lentil peas, sweet plantains, breadfruit salad, callaloo, and a choice of corn pie or macaroni pie. 

But the meal’s highlight comes at the end — the ice cream. 

Following the meal, James passes out individual scoops of her homemade creation, which tastes only slightly sweet and is accompanied by a mild nutty undertone. The creamy delicacy is made from produce found in James’ on-site garden and from, of all things, a vegetable.

Hummingbirds at Shurland Nature Park

Shurland Nature Park

You see, this delicious delicacy is made from dasheen, or taro, a root vegetable also known as ‘blue food’ by the locals.

“Dasheen is something that can be used to make a variety of dishes and drinks. It can also be used to make cakes and pone. I can go on and on,” says James. 

It’s a product so popular on the island that it can be found in almost every restaurant menu in the food or drink section. There’s even a culinary event in its honor called the Blue Food Festival every October. James is no stranger to this festival or to crafting unique spins with the provision — she won first place for the best-tasting dasheen punch at the event back in 2012. 

To make the ice cream, James says she first boils the dasheen and cooks it with some salt. Once it’s cooled, she turns it into a puree and adds milk and a blend of spices — what she says is her secret recipe — to bring out the flavor profile before freezing to get the final product.

Cooking has always been a part of James’ life, but so too has her love of sharing what makes Tobago so special with travelers. After winning and gaining notoriety in the community from the food festival, she became a licensed tour guide. While guiding groups, she learned more about the flora and the popular birds in the area, which made her take a liking to hummingbirds. So, she placed feeders around her home, and when she opened her restaurant space to the public, she brought the feeders with her so visitors from guided tours could also have time with the hummingbirds. Slowly but surely, the area started attracting more birds and more newcomers who wanted to experience the garden themselves. 

A person holds a hummingbird feeder at Shurland Nature Park

Shurland Nature Park

“I moved the feeders to the area, which was nothing but grass. Little by little, it was developed into what it is now. Tour guides started to bring their guests to the park, and I was able to charge a fee to visit. I eventually started catering meals for guests as they sit and relax in the ambiance of the hummingbirds,” James explains. As for her ice cream, she wanted to try something a little different, and it became a hit with guests.

“I decided to focus on the ice cream as it was ‘the road less traversed’ and because of the unique taste,” she says. “Now, it is a highly requested item on my menu .”

If you are interested in stopping by Shurland’s for lunch, admission and the meal, including the homemade ice cream, is $25 per person. See more on her Instagram account to book a lunch or rainforest tour.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles