In Tobago, I think your best option will be the "Penny Savers Supermarket" in Canaan. While other markets may have some decent things at good prices, Penny Savers is the largest and therefore will offer the widest selection and typically the most economical price.
What to buy: Penny Savers carries everything from toiletries, food, produce, breads, dishes & utensils, etc. Its as well stocked as a typical grocery store.
Across the street from Penny Savers is a decent pharmacy and wine shop.
There is also an ATM/bank on the side.
What to pay: Prices will be standard, but selection is best.
Most that I crossed paths with wile enjoying either Grafton Beach or Turtle Beach were simply easy to interact with, and as is often the case, some were annoying, and that’s not uncommon anywhere I suppose.
I ended up spending plenty of time hanging out on both of these beaches and the majority of beach vendors were found on Turtle Beach.
Two guys in particular that were quite easy to be around include Henry and Karl. Henry has a set up off the property but on the beach at the Turtle Beach Hotel and he makes on the spot, leather goods including sandals, belts, and even a simple fridge magnet designed as a turtle.
The sandals that Henry made for me were made to measure and he has a few styles to choose from. He charged me the equivalent of about $ 40.00 CAD for a pair and he’ll whip them up for you in a day if its necessary and if he doesn’t have other commitments. Mine were two days in the making. I had heard that he made these little fridge magnets and he makes them simply out of scrap leather on the spot!
He’s a bit of a character and recognizes you by the country that you’re from. I had read about him before I left for Tobago and I found him quite easily. Henry is the guy to deal with if you want some personal service and sandals are on your list of MUST haves!!
Karl is an easy going and soft spoken man that makes the rounds at various beaches in the south of the island and apparently from what he said to me, tries to connect with the tour boats that visit Tobago and anchor at Scarborough. I certainly wasn’t looking for anything particularly but ended up making a reasonably priced purchase of a gift for the little girl of a neighbor of mine that looks after my house when Im out of town. I bought from Karl a small bracelet that seems to be mass produced as I saw them in many different places that I visited on this recent visit. I can’t tell you what I paid but it’s very inexpensive.
We chatted a couple times that he was walking the beach where I was hanging out on and he seemed to arrive about the same day every day. I made a purchase from him on the third visit that I saw him make to the beach.
There’s also the obligatory pests that just WON’T go away without a curt response to get your message across, some trying to flog anything that they can to scrape together a few dollars during the day, mangoes included. Inevitably these are the ones that consistently try even though you think you’ve made it clear to them that you’re not interested. More than a few times I had to deal with the same person in the same way and even conversation they initiated was geared at begging smokes.
In any case….look for Karl for an easy transaction….and Henry…if you’d like some personal service and custom made sandals and a few laughs too.
There are a few boutiques and clothes shops in Crown Point and Scarborough. There is also a large mall just west of Scarborough that will carry most mainstream goods.
However, the souvenirs to get in Tobago is most commonly accepted to be carved wood pieces. Mostly carved by the local Rasta community, their skill is easily seen in their handy work.
Many of the more colorful characters may even approach you and entertain you with some stories, anecdotes and banter while the carve their masterpieces right in front of you. Sometimes their conversations are as entertaining and memorable as their art.
Don't be pushed to pay beyond what you think is reasonable. After all, if they chose to approach you, it by no means binds you to buy from them.
What to buy: There are lots of leather goods - sandals, bags, bracelets, etc.
There are lots of carved shells and handmade jewelry
Best things to get are the wood carvings - coconut shells, gourds, bamboo, etc.
What to pay: Shop around for common prices before you get pressured into a sale.