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Top 8 Things to Buy in Tortola

Top 8 Things to Buy in Tortola

  1. Spices
  2. Jewelry and Gems
  3. Spirits
  4. Local Art
  5. Pottery
  6. Jams and Jellies
  7. Clothing
  8. Electronics


If it’s your first time visiting Tortola, you might be interested to learn about the wide variety of activities you can do on the island including what kinds of souvenirs you can pick up and bring home to your loved ones. Tortola is the commercial and governmental capital of the British Virgin Islands, and home to more than 80 percent of the BVI’s population. It’s also a transportation hub, meaning that if you’re going to do any shopping on your trip to the Caribbean, the island is a great place to find amazing items. Alongside the beautiful beaches and majestic peaks, there’s ample opportunity to pick up souvenirs to remember this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

1.   Spices

Along with many of the islands that dot the Caribbean, Tortola is known for its wonderful collection of spices. Because this area of the world has a good climate for growing spices, and has also been a major source of trade, this is a great place to pick up some delectable and unique spices at very cheap prices. Especially if you like a little spice in your food, check out the scotch bonnet peppers, or the handmade, mixed blend of spices for sale at many stores in the port. You can also pick up thyme, cinnamon, scallions and dried sorrel.

variety of colorful spices in separate bowls

2.   Jewelry and Gems

Right along the main cruise port, you will find all kind of shops selling fine jewelry and gems – at a fraction of the price of what they would cost back home. Jewelry is always a good souvenir to bring home as it is practical as well as beautiful, and makes for a great gift. The jewelry you’ll find on Tortola will range from simple pieces with precious gems to more unique handmade items. Coral or shell necklaces are also quite popular and are the perfect way to remember your tropical vacation.

different coral and turquoise necklaces on display

3.   Spirits

All alcohol can be purchased duty-free on the island, so if you’re looking to snag some good deals, this is a great place to pick up some liquor. You’ll also find some brands and other types of spirits that might not be available back home. Make sure to try some of the local rum, as most of the islands in the Caribbean have their own local rum, each one with a unique flavor. The delicious taste is sure to take you right back to the warm, sunny breezes of Tortola.

4.   Local Art

Walking around Tortola, you will see quite a few galleries, which are home to beautiful art from the Tortola natives. From photography to paintings to carved dolls and figurines, you’re sure to find some truly unique pieces of art throughout the island. The beauty of buying art as a souvenir is that it is something that will decorate your home for years to come, and provide endless memories of your time on this island. It is also a wonderful way to support the local community and give back on your travels. Some of the shops will even ship art home if you’re concerned about not having enough space in your luggage.

5.   Pottery

Pottery and china are the perfect balance between art and practicality. There is a lot of locally made pottery that captures the island’s flair and it doesn’t have to be something to look at and never touch — it can be a wonderful addition to your china back home! Tortola is the perfect place to pick up some accent pieces to bring a little color to your cupboards, and give an eclectic vibe to your next dinner party. And you know that what you’re getting is completely one of a kind, because it is made by local artists.

handmade pottery created on a pottery wheel

6.   Jams and Jellies

Spices aren’t the only edible good that Tortola is known for — you can also pick up some delectable jams and jellies made from locally grown fruits. Any jam connoisseur knows that store-bought jam cannot compete with fresh jam made from fruit that is grown right on the island. Once you try this stuff, you won’t be able to go back to the grocery store version.

7.   Clothing

Whether you’re looking for the perfect souvenir T-shirt or something a little more unique, you’ll find anything you desire in the variety of shops in Tortola. There are stores that make customized tees in just one afternoon. If you want something that has a bit more local flair, pick up a Batik-designed dress, shirt or sarong to spice up your wardrobe. Tortola is also a good place to pick up a new swimsuit if you’re looking for a little variety as they will probably be much more affordable than in shops back home.

 different colored batik fabrics depicting a bird on display

8.   Electronics

Since the British Virgin Islands are both duty-free and tax-free, you can get some great deals on items that you would normally pay lot more for at home. What better way to stock up on necessities such as computer supplies or cell phones, at a fraction of the cost? Your relatives will certainly thank you.

As you can see, there is a wide variety of unique and wonderful objects available on Tortola that make great souvenirs for you and your loved ones. It’s always hard to go back to “real life” after an incredible trip to the Caribbean, but bringing home gifts that keep the memories alive can make it a little bit easier.

Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.