Cruising to The Bahamas promises to be an unforgettable experience, and what better way to hang on to these memories than hand-picking some special souvenirs? Whether pretty or practical, for yourself or a loved one, those special items give you something to treasure long after you return home. Shopping in The Bahamas is a fun way to spend some time while exploring the islands. You can choose to go on a sightseeing and shopping shore excursion, spend hours perusing the outdoor markets of Nassau and Freeport, or make an impromptu stop at a sidewalk stall. Best of all — prices are duty-free. Here are 10 items that you can bring home.
1. Straw Goods
Weaving baskets, hats, purses, fans and more from dried palm leaves and sisal is an age-old Bahamian handicraft, and you’ll see such items sold everywhere. The Nassau Straw Market gets its name from these traditional souvenirs, and Freeport’s Port Lucaya Marketplace boasts more than 100 straw goods vendors. Select a wide-brimmed straw hat to shade you from the sun on the beach and cruise deck, a colorful purse custom-embroidered with your initials, or a roomy shopping basket you can use to carry even more souvenirs.
There’s nothing more relaxing than sipping a cool rum punch at an open-air bar on Half Moon Cay or a barefoot beach shack on Grand Bahama. But you can at least replicate some signature cocktails of the Bahamas at home by bringing back a bottle or two of rum. Ask your friendly bartender to divulge the recipe for a local specialty such as the Bahama Mama or Yellow Bird, or concoct your own cocktail with coconut or pineapple rum. Not a big drinker? Pick up a rum cake instead — it’s another island favorite and a delightfully sweet treat.
3. Conch Shell Jewelry
The conch is much more than a delicious menu item in The Bahamas. Its pretty pale pink shell is polished and crafted into jewelry that’s sold in many souvenir shops. Bracelets, necklaces and earrings are available to suit all tastes and budgets. You might also consider splurging on jewelry made with rare pink pearls, also from the conch.
4. Jams and Jellies
Enjoy a sweet taste of The Bahamas after you return home by packing some jars of tropical-flavored local jams and jellies in your suitcase. Guava jelly and pineapple jam are among the flavors widely available and are delightful for smearing on bread or for use in cooking and baking.
Real cigar aficionados might want to take a tour of the cigar factory in Nassau and certainly hit the gift shop on the way out. Bahamian cigars are also a great gift and a souvenir well worth saving to celebrate a special occasion in the future.
Sold by the yard, brightly colored batik fabrics made into garments, table linens and accessories are a signature of The Bahamas. Look out in particular for Androsia — batiks handmade on the island of Andros for more than 40 years and sold throughout the islands. Their patterns feature locally influenced motifs such as seahorses, corals and hibiscus flowers that will remind you of the sights of the islands long after you’ve departed.
7. Pine Seed Doll
This local handicraft uses the cones of the native Bahamian pine tree, which grows in the forests of Grand Bahama, Abaco, Andros and New Providence. The cones are crafted into whimsical dolls, each one of a kind. They make great gifts for children and charming ornaments to display around the house and evoke happy memories of your time in the Bahamas.
8. Junkanoo Art
Junkanoo, a vibrant street parade, is The Bahamas’ annual national celebration. The bright dance costumes adorned with feathers and beading, elaborate headdresses and masks worn during the parade are replicated in model and miniature form, and they’re available in gift stores year-round. You’ll also find Junkanoo-themed paintings, ornaments, jewelry and much more.
Select some local music CDs, and you can travel to The Bahamas in your mind every time you press “play.” With music in the air wherever you go, it only takes a little time in The Bahamas to discover why the archipelago is nicknamed “The Islands of Song.” With the influences of American blues, local church choirs and West African drumming, Bahamian music has a rhythm all its own. Traditional music styles include dance-inspiring goombay and instrumental rake ‘n’ scrape. Steel drum music is popular too.
Handcrafted woodcarvings are another item sold in markets and gift stores throughout The Bahamas. You’ll often see the artists at their market stalls, honing a new creation with a knife while selling all manner of carved ornaments and useful items. For something practical, consider a carved bowl with matching salad servers. Local wildlife is a common theme, and you’ll often see carvings of marine creatures such as turtles and tropical fish. How about a carved wooden stingray or starfish as a memento or a snorkeling trip?