With ample duty-free opportunities, luxury shops and a variety of local arts and crafts, shopping in St. Thomas is an experience not to be missed. You can easily come home with a suitcase full of souvenirs and gifts to remind you of your Caribbean vacation. Browsing local shops is also a fun way to learn about the island’s culture and hear stories from the makers of the beautiful items you can find here.
The best shopping spots in St. Thomas can be found along the harbor in Charlotte Amalie, at local malls, shopping centers, art galleries and at Vendors Plaza, an outdoor marketplace for souvenirs, handmade goods, and crafts. Not sure what to look out for during your shopping trip? This list of the top 10 things to buy in St. Thomas will come in handy.
1. Custom Leather Sandals
Comfortable, durable shoes are a must for any traveler. Get your custom-fitted sandals in St. Thomas to make sure your feet feel healthy and tireless for the remainder of your adventure throughout the city and beyond. Choose from a wide assortment of colors and designs, and add arch support if you need it. If you are only staying in St. Thomas for a short time, you can opt for semi-custom sandals, which can be completed in one visit.
St. Thomas is well known as a place to buy diamonds. Luxury jewelry shops are plentiful here, but prices vary so if you want to find the best bargain, shop around and do your research. Even if diamonds do not feature on your shopping list, local jewelry shops are worth visiting. You will discover unique handcrafted pieces by local artists to suit any budget.
Rum is an integral part of the drinking culture throughout the Caribbean, and St. Thomas, with its pirate history, is no exception. Making rum started as a way to utilize the waste from sugar production in the 17th century, and it quickly grew into an industry of its own, which continues to flourish to this day. St. Thomas’ distillers follow their own traditional recipes, passed from generation to generation. Take the opportunity to taste local rum and buy a couple of bottles to take home so that you can re-live your island experience and share it with your friends.
4. Moko Jumbie Dolls
Moko Jumbies, stilt dancers wearing masks and dressed in bright clothing, are often present in celebrations throughout the Virgin Islands. It is believed that the Moko Jumbies stand up high, so they can see the evil spirits from afar and ward them off by mocking them. Bring a Moko Jumbie doll home to remind you of this fascinating tradition.
If you or someone dear to you enjoys cooking and loves Caribbean food, a local cookbook is the perfect gift. It is not something that you put on the shelf and forget; you will use your cookbook often and share your creations with your loved ones. Make those tasty Callaloo soups and meat pates, and discover other unique dishes that you may not have had a chance to try during your vacation.
6. Hot Sauce
When you think about Caribbean cuisine, one of the first things that springs to mind is the hot pepper sauce. It comes in bright red and green colors, with each island boasting its distinctive recipe. Characterized by intense heat and tangy taste, the hot sauce from St Thomas will add unmistakable Caribbean flavor to your everyday food, and it makes a great present, too.
7. Shipwreck Coins
The pirate history of the Virgin Islands fascinates adults and kids alike. Find treasure and immerse yourself in the fierce reality of the 16th century in a museum dedicated to pirate’s past, which displays items recovered from the sea, including bottles, chests, coins and weapons. Choose a nautical souvenir or an authentic shipwreck coin at the museum’s gift shop.
8. Sea Glass Gifts
Play with the old bottles and jars that people toss in the sea to create fascinating texture, shapes and colors. Local artists use sea glass to decorate various items or craft pendants, bracelets and ornaments. No two items are identical, and each has a story that the artist will readily share with you.
9. Handicrafts from Indigenous Materials
Souvenir shops in St. Thomas will stun you with beautiful handcrafted gifts from materials that are native to St Thomas — calabash, coconut and bamboo. Choose from an ample selection of decorated bowls, vases, drums and jewelry. Often, the artist who created the items will be the ones selling them, and you can receive a first-hand description of their process.
10. Local Art
St Thomas is home to numerous artists, art galleries and art shops, where you can discover local art in a variety of styles, including oil, watercolors, silk screening, wood-turning and sculpture. The staff is friendly and always happy to share the history of each piece as well as anecdotes about the life in St. Thomas. If you are looking for a deep experience of the Caribbean, browsing through local art will forge an unforgettable connection with the island culture and creativity.