*This Post is Brought to You Buy Our Sponsor, International Yacht Charter Group*
The Bahamas hold a special place in my heart because it’s where my sister got married! Almost three years ago now–how time flies! We had such a wonderful time when we were there and I really fell in love with the destination. The Bahamas offer a wonderful selection of shopping experiences: there are boutiques and high-end fashion stores, whimsical gift shops, colorful “straw” markets, basic retail stores, and fun food stands. The downside is that it’s hard to know where to start. And of course, there’s no excuse not to bring back the perfect souvenir! Especially in a country that has such fabulous deals on luxury jewelry–holler. Read through the following five categories to help you prepare for your Bahamas shop-a-thon.
Cash in on savings by buying everything duty free! Look for a pink flamingo decal, which denotes the Bahamian government’s mark of product authenticity, in shops’ windows. Browse among items such as cameras, crystal, leather, linens, jewelry, and watches. I know someone who recently saved nearly 800 purchasing a luxury brand watch here rather than in NYC. The savings can really add up for big-ticket items. It is not recommended that you haggle in these stores. Take the properly marked item to the register and pay as usual. Bay Street in Nassau is a good place to start.
Start on familiar ground on Grand Bahama Island at its large shopping center that features your typical retail stores. Check out the International Bazaar Freeport Bahama, which is near the downtown area and provides easy access to international goods. Then when you’re ready to spend some serious cash, treat yourself to the shops of Marina Village at Atlantis. There are over 20 designer retail stores with an eyeful of elegant fashion for men and women! Don’t expect to save too much money here though, these shops are really for the high-rollers.
The Bahamas Craft Centre on Paradise Island is an Art-Deco building that houses another concentration of local art, made with fine craftsmanship. The center has booths like a straw market, but the bonus is that you get to see artisans at work while you shop. Come here if you’re looking for blown glass, driftwood pieces, Junkanoo art, and fine paintings–you’d be surprised what you can find. Elsewhere in the Bahamas, keep an eye open for antique pieces, art galleries, and the aforementioned locals’ jewelry shops.
Some items are so hot they’ll ignite! I’m referring to the infamous Cuban cigar, which is perfectly legal to purchase in the Bahamas. There’s also the island-perfected Rum Cake, which I’m told makes a good gift if you manage to get it home uneaten. Though my personal faves are items like my favorite alcohol brands (or even perfume) – at duty free prices too. Look into current shipping laws and airport customs before making major purchases and keep in mind that these things are available for an additional charge.
Put on your haggling pants (haggling panties? but I digress…) cause you can score a bargain at Nassau’s Straw Market if you’re willing to negotiate. The colorful crafts, including bags and floor mats, don’t come with a price tag; you bargain with the vendor until you’ve reached an agreement. Expect to see items made of local straw, wood, and shell at the straw markets. Festival Place at Prince George’s Wharf is another handicraft mecca. Also, several Out Islands have little shops with jewelry and other local pieces.
The Bahamas is your ticket to sun, seafood, sweet cocktails, and some good old retail therapy. You are certainly encouraged to go to the beach and snorkel the reefs. Just save some time and energy for shopping! When the spree is over, let us know about your favorite bargain or most surprising find.
About the Author: Katie Bauer is an experienced travel writer and editor. Having been a stewardess on private yachts, a crew member for sail races, and a sail maker in New England, she now specializes in yachting destinations. A frequent traveler, she has studied, worked, and volunteered abroad thus bringing a unique perspective to her content.
*This post was sponsored by International Yacht Charter Group but as always all opinions herein are my own. Please feel free to email me with any questions.*