Sea Grape, Plait Lady, etc.: Souvenirs Made in the Bahamas
Both the Sea Grape and the Plait Lady specialize in some items made right in the Bahamas. The Sea Grape is a vendor for Androsia batik fabric, made in a small factory on Andros (do visit the factory and outlet store if you visit Andros). The Plait lady sells baskets and other straw work made on several of the out islands.
The Sea Grape is a part of the Traveller's Rest restaurant complex so you can get a great lunch or dinner and shop as well.
What to buy: The Sea Grape is a vendor for Androsia batik fabric, which has been called "the national fabric of the Bahamas." It's made in a small factory on Andros (do visit the factory and outlet store if you visit Andros).
The Plait Lady sells Androsia as well as baskets and other straw work and shell items made on several of the out islands. Each island has straw designs and traditions that are unique.
What to pay: Androsia clothing is reasonably priced.
Straw can be inexpensive for small items and more expensive for large ones.
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Straw Market: Straw Market
In the 1940’s the sponge industry came to a close in the Bahamas. The locals searched for another way to make a living. Women started painting and decorating dried palm and plant leaves to create baskets, bags and dolls. Thus, the straw market was born and soon more women began to make these items for tourists.
In 2001 a large fire destroyed Nassau’s straw market. Today, the straw market is smaller in size and held in a large tent. There are many merchant with tables of items for sale in a small space. You can find handmade mats, baskets, fabrics, hats, jewelry, woodcarvings, and guava jellies. When here, I brought a straw Hello Kitty bag for one of my sisters. It does seem like many of the items probably imported from other countries and not natively made. There are a few vendors that make items in front of you, I would buy from these stalls if you are looking for authentic.
There are several tips to remember when shopping here. Do not pay the first price, the merchants are willing to bargain with you especially if you buy in bulk. Thursday is the best day to go since there is less cruise ship activity and merchants are more willing to bargain. Saturday and weekends in general are the worst days because there are more cruise ships and tourists. The market is open 9 am - 5 pm or later and is located on Downtown Bay Street. It is close to the harbor, the Hilton and Senor Frog’s.
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Bay Street: Upscale to Dirt-Cheap
This is like the Fifth Avenue, Ginza, Calle de la Fortaleza of Nassau.
What to buy: You can buy things from stores as Gucci and Versace here. The Bahamas is very famous for its perfumes and jewelery, so don´t be afraid to check some of those out while you're meandering down the street. You can also find many tourist shops with local crafts for cheap and expensive shells.
What to pay: From $1 for a postcard to $150 for a pair of shoes to $500 for a necklace. The choice is yours
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Various: Bay Street
Bay Street is Nassau's main street and has world class shopping and some great bargains on jewelry. You will also find clothing, souvenirs, and anything else you expect to find at a shopping mall. Here you will find top brands such as Rolex, Versace, Lladro, and others.
Most stores are open 9am-5pm Monday through Saturday and closed Sundays.
What to buy: Jewelry, watches, leather, crystal, and china are the best bargains.
What to pay: It depends on what you are buying. Many items have savings from 20-50% below stateside retail prices.
The Green Lizard Co. Ltd.: Shop the Local Artists
This little store is so cute, you will want everything in it wrapped up and sent home! But your pocketbook won't be able to afford it, so you'll have to settle for picking only a few of the items.
We or at least I fell in love with a few of the pieces and was able to convince Hubby to spring for them..there were all types of local art work: sand statue dolls, wood figurines, painted pictures and seashells, ornaments, handmade jewelry, etc..
What to buy: We ended up picking up a sand statue doll and a grouping of ballerinas made out of wood. Very pretty. We brought them home successfully unbroken, thank goodness! I'll add pictures at a later date..
What to pay: The dolls ranged anywhere from 5.00 to 100.00. All types of gifts for all types of budgets. Check it out!!
Graycliff Cigars: Nassau Cigars
The walk in humidor at Graycliff offers the cigar aficionado almost too many choices. While I plead that my own preferences run to Lonsdales and Churchills I left with a wide selection of these long beauties. In multiple colours (for a full explaination visit their site) My only comment would be to do your homework before visiting. Graycliff Cigars are built on the fame of Avelino Lara, once Fidel Castro's personal torcedore and so I was very surprised during my visit to find that I seemed to know much more about the product than the "girl" left to manage the store. However, her lack of knowledge about her product did not stop me from aquiring my personal grouping which happily reside within my humidor.
Although it has played host to royalty, presidents, leaders of business and entertainment. With the only 5 star dining in the caribbean and one of the great wine cellars of the world I was surprised, However, from almost anywhere in Nassau you can see Government House, A large Pink structure
What to buy: The Red or Blue are an ideal choice for the beginner, for a special taste go for the Green or "Crystal" (white) and for a truly enjoyable experience go for the Black or Purple.
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Please try to visit these spots, the people are so nice but there were a few that seemed a tad bit pushy. They are trying to earn a living here. We bought from the nicer ones. Being nice does pay off, but I can understand, they may need the money, but being rude will not get mine or ours.
What to buy: Rum cakes are the best.
What to pay: They are reasonable.
Shopping in town..there are many speciality shops
Tourism, mostly concentrated in Nassau, slowly grew during the first half of the twentieth century. In the 1950s and 1960s, tourists flocked to the new resorts just west of Nassau at Cable Beach (named for the first telegraph cable laid there in 1892). Visitors were then drawn to Paradise Island in the 1960s and 1970s, partly because in 1966 the government built a bridge connecting Nassau to Paradise Island.
Before Huntington Hartford bought and developed Paradise Island in the 1960s, it was called Hog Island and was used mostly for farming. With its beautiful beaches and ideal location, Paradise Island soon drew other investors like Merv Griffin, Donald Trump and Sol Kerzner, who developed the fancy hotels and fabulous resorts that dominate the island and make it a top resort destination today.
Today’s Bahamians continue the tradition of the early Lucayan and Taino Indians by producing distinctive arts and crafts that reflect the skill and artistry of their heritage. Bahamians utilize local resources to create unique foods, spices, ceramics, crafts, art, and music.
Join in with the fun of bargaining at our famous Straw Market, savor the colorful bustle of our outdoor fruit and vegetable stalls and fresh fish market, or be entranced by the fashionable elegance of Bay Street's international boutiques.
Straw Market: 500 local vendors
The Straw Market is a covered market place where hundreds of locals will sell you all kind of souvenirs.
Mo-Sa: 9AM - 6PM
Su: 9AM - 5PM
What to buy: Woodcarved birds, toys made from Coca Cola tins, postcards and more.
- Budget Travel
Straw Market: Souvenirs and Bargains
All kinds of bargains on souvenirs and other items can be found at the Straw Market at the west end of Bay Street. You will find t-shirts, bags, hats, arts and crafts and more - all at low prices. Don't forget to bargain with the merchants.
Downtown shops: Discount luxeries
There are all types of shops in downtown Nassua that sell brand name items much cheaper than US mainland prices. Just be sure to know what you're buying, go in the reputable shops here, it is easy to tell the difference.
What to buy: I found good prices on many Italian names and great deals on watches, though not as good of deals as I have found on other Carribean islands.
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Nassau Straw Market: Homage to the Straw Market
This bustling enclosed market, formerly known as the beloved Straw Market just off Bay Street housed many local vendors and crafts. It unfortunetly, burned to the ground in September 2001. A friend that visited last year, mentioned that they are slowly rebuilding the straw market and making it better than ever. Support the local Bahamian Vendors & their crafts.
What to buy: When its back in place, its a fun-filled afternoon of hagling and learning about local art bric-a-brac and collectibles.
What to pay: Haggle to get the best prices, of course I'm not a good haggler so I just payed the full amount for straw dolls about $2.00 a piece.
Street sellers at thw water tower: Cheaper souvenirs
Around the water tower on the top of the hill in Nassau are a number of street stalls selling souvenirs.
If I recall well I bought 3 T-shirts for just $10.00 in 2003.
What to buy: Souvenirs.
What to pay: Lower prices than in the rest of town.
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Silver Traditions: Big Scam to Avoid
My husband and I just returned from a cruise that stopped in the Bahamas. We stopped in Silver Traditions, as the store presents itself as having a beautiful and quality selection of sterling silver and stone jewelry. After much negotiating, my husband and I purchased a Tanzanite ring that Henry Rios, our sales person, guaranteed us was real and an excellent investment. We paid $400. Our credit card company has made several attempts to contact Silver Traditions; however, every time the representative identifies themselves from the credit card company, and is calling from a recorded phone line, the store hangs up. This store is a fraud. They are skilled sales people who will take full advantage of you, and sell you a fake product. Do not support them. Spread this story to everyone you know. Don't let another person become a victim of this slimy people.
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