Unique & Charming Arts & Crafts Marketplace: TILLETT GARDENS, ST. THOMAS
Reknowned English artist Jim Tillet founded the wonderful Tillett Gardens in the early 1960's, on the site of an old Danish farm. Although he is since deceased, his former protege Sonny Thomas keeps the dream alive, & reproduces Jim Tillett's work in the gallery that forms the heart of Tillett Gardens.
But this is far more than a cluster of galleries! In addition to the shops and artists' studios where you can purchase lovely raku pottery, jewelry, candles, herbs, local crafts & paintings, there is also an open air theatre with live performances of music & plays, ongoing classes for music & acting students, & recitals by the students. And then there's Pistarkle Theatre, the fully indoor & air conditioned facility too.
Relax at the Zen Retreat Day Spa, or pick up a bite to eat at one of the restaurants in the Gardens, & then just sit on a bench in the shade to watch the show.
What to buy: Locally made quality artwork & crafts - and you can meet many of the artists who maintain working studios in Tillett GardensRelated to:
- Arts and Culture
- Theater Travel
On The Far Side Of The Island: CORAL BAY, ST. JOHN
For a bit of a driving adventure, rent a vehicle on St. John & drive to the far side of the island, to the village of Coral Bay - just remember, driving on these islands is not for the faint of heart! See Transportation Tips if you doubt me.
Once there, keep an eye out for the broken surfboard sign / bench that leads you to a cluster of shops & a restaurant at Skinny Leg's (see photo). Be warned, Toto - you aren't in the Edmonton Mall anymore. Get ready to kick back & get down Island style in Coral Bay's wonderfully funky inimitable way. But don't underestimate Skinny's! The food's good, & the shops are a lot of fun.
What to buy: Of course Skinny's isn't the only establishment to explore in Coral Bay, so check out these links for more Coral Bay shopping
Coral Bay Dining & Shopping MapRelated to:
- Road Trip
- Arts and Culture
Duty Free Capital Of The Caribbean: CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS
Charlotte Amalie, the main port on St. Thomas, is the duty-free mecca of the Caribbean, and the huge cruise ships that dock at nearby Havensight regularly disgorge hoards of tourists hungry for those deals on designer items. In addition to the expected Hermes handbags & Rolex watches, you'll also find all sorts of art galleries, a wonderful shop full of lovely table linens, liquor stores, & jewelry stores.
Pick up a tourist brochure anywhere for ads, maps & listings to help you find what you want, or simply have fun rambling around the colorful alleyways & hidden courtyards.
Originally named 'Taphus' (which means 'Beer Hall'), Charlotte Amalie was renamed for Danish King Christian V's wife in 1691. Blessed with a protected deep water harbor, it was a boisterous pirates' lair for many years before it was a Danish possession. Then the Danes joined the Atlantic Slave Trade in the late 1600's, while still lending approval for the pirates to use CA as a port of refuge.
Today the old slave market at Market Square has been transformed into an open air local market, where vendors sell produce, sarongs, jewelry, T-shirts, & all sorts of inexpensive items.
Take a walking tour of CA to gain an appreciation for the history of this port: Frommer's Walking Tour
Historic Charlotte Amalie
What to buy: Crystal, china, jewelry, cameras, other electronics, clothing, table linens, artwork, souvenirs - you name it! Also Larimer jewelry (Larimer is a lovely sky blue stone found only in the Caribbean Islands)
Overview: Shopping Charltte Amalie
The link below is for a good map of CARelated to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Island Artwork & Caribbean Style: CRUZ BAY, ST. JOHN
Although some cruise ships also stop at Cruz Bay, you'll have no where near the crowds to contend with here on St. John. And the quality of local artwork far surpasses Charlotte Amalie's plethora of cheap imports & "collectibles". This is the island where a lot of the artists actually live!
This link gives a complete list for shopping Cruz Bay, with links to maps as well.
Below is a link to the interactive St. John map.
What to buy: See the handpainted tank top I'm wearing in the view-from-Blackbeard's Castle pic on the Intro page, for one thing. Lots of cool unique items on STJ, as well as the usual pretty Larimer jewelry etc.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Sailing and Boating
The time to go there is now!: CHRISTIANSTED, CONTINUED...
However, it is lean and hungry right now, and tourists are much more welcome than they have been in the past. The huge Hovensa Refinery (formerly Hess Refinery) has laid off large numbers of employees, due to its sporadic output. Hovensa refines Venezuelan oil, and Venezuela has been fighting its own political battles, disrupting& drastically reducing oil shipments. Recently the Venezuelan government has announced a rift in its relationship with the USA as well, so the future of this refinery is pretty dubious.
The main port of Christiansted was almost empty of tourists when I visited, even in January the heart of the winter tourist season. It’s so sad to think how many of the local businesses are barely hanging on. But everything was on sale, and the vendors were open to bargaining as well. There are some lovely jewelry shops, art galleries, clothing boutiques, and everything else you might wish to find, all here for you, and all just thrilled to have your business. So please DO consider visiting St. Croix & sharing a few of those tourist dollars they so badly need!
Below is the interactive map for St. Croix.
What to buy: Cruzan Rum (you can also visit the distillery on St. Croix), Crucian Hook bracelets, Larimer jewelry, name brand duty free shopping for everything else you might want or need is all hereRelated to:
- Sailing and Boating
The USVI Bargains are here!: CHRISTIANSTED, ST. CROIX
If you want some great shopping bargains in the USVI’s, this is the place to go. Here’s why:
Although St. Croix is the largest of the three main US Virgin Islands, it has never cultivated the level of tourism that St. Thomas & St. John have managed to build up. This is partially because it has had other means of support for the locals through out much of the last 100 years. Also, St. Croix is slightly removed from the other islands, swinging off by itself to the south of STT & STJ. The ferry to St. Croix takes longer than the one to STJ, and doesn’t run as often.
But there is the added fact that St. Croix’s reputation hasn’t always been blemish-free. The late 1960’s & early 1970’s saw quite a rash of racial unrest & violence that hasn’t dissipated to this day.
CONTINUED BELOWRelated to:
- Sailing and Boating
Havensight Mall: Tourist stuff plus more
This is the mall besides which all the cruise ships dock. It's THE MAIN shopping area in St Thomas, with everything from t-shirts and key-rings, to books and diamonds. There's a pharmacy here, a card store, a Hello Kitty store!, and a bus that will take you around for free. Although it's very touristy here, locals shop here too, and it's very simply laid out making it easy to wander around. Across the street from the mall, are more shops (radio Shack, clothes store) and an internet cafe/international phone place, where you see all the cruise ship staff calling home.
From Havensight you can get a taxi (they will ask you constantly even if they see you drive up in a car!), to the old town of Charlotte Amalie, where there are more shops, in a historic setting. Or, you can walk along the water front, which I prefer.
What to buy: T-shirts, key-rings, diamonds, toliettries, books. There's a shop that sells the most gorgeous globes, ranging in sizes, made out of different precious stones.
What to pay: From 35c for postcards to thousands for diamonds.Related to:
O.k, so you've come on holiday, and you want to stay away from everything you can get at home. But, you've forgotten your sun lotion, batteries, or you need more diapers. Whatever, you know K-Mart has it. this store isn't as good as the ones in the USA, but it has most of what you need. And it's at prices you know. They'll charge you more for these thigns at tourist trap shops.
Great if you're got kids and have forgotten something like diapers, formula, bottles, etc.
What to buy: Anything you've forgotten from home.
What to pay: Usual prices. It's a bit mroe expensive here, but you don't pay tax, which makes up for it.Related to:
- Family Travel
A Tax and Duty Free Haven
If you're interested, St. Thomas is a great place to purchase many items tax /duty free. My husband and I stopped to look at rings at Diamonds International where he eventually purchased one he was very impressed with. The service was good and not overbearing.
What to buy: Definitely high end jewelry, porcelain, liquors (especially rum of all flavors), and perfumes! While at St. Thomas we bought Ponche Kuba & Coconut Rum ($15 together), Estee Lauder Perfume (large atomizer, $54) and, of course, my husband's ring. Came away feeling we made wise choices.
A mixture of local products, typical tourist stuff and things you might find at home. Jewellery is big here, and there are many stores selling high priced necklaces, bracelets, earings, etc. Local art. Plenty of stores selling key rings, postcards and rum.
Mostly the same stores that you'll find in Havensight, with more jewellers and a local feel. The architecture is nice to wander amongst, esp. the small alleyways with stores tucked away.
What to buy: Jewellery. 'Little Switzerland' is one of the big names here.
Tommy Hilfiger: Charlotte Amalie
A taste of America. I went in once and the women's section was tiny as was the kids section. The men's department on the other hand is fairly big. Prices seemed average, so unless you need something, I wouldn't bother. You won't get anything cheaper than the US here.
Dronningens Gade, Charlotte Amalie
Dronningens Gade, also known as Main Street, is the primary shopping thoroughfare in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie. Although primarily swamped by gaudily-clad cruise ship passengers seeking the tacky wares spilling onto the sidewalks, it has its share of upmarket amenities as well, including quite a few notable jewlry and watch stores. In fact, Charlotte Amalie seems to be the place to buy a watch, given the low prices and duty free laws. The street has a rather vivacious atmopshere, with salesmen all trying to make the pitch for their stores or entice you down a palm-shaded alley to a restaurant cooking Caribbean soul food.
David Hill Gallery: Are you looking for local art by local artists ?
David Hill is St Thomas' favorite young artist. Just visit his gallery at the Royal Dane Mall area downtown and you'll see for yourself why his art is special.
What to buy: Any art piece that you fall in love with and can afford to purchase.
What to pay: $25.00 to ?????Related to:
- Arts and Culture
KMart: Shopping for anything not touristy
Pretty much the only place to buy stuff on the island that's not the marked-up touristy stuff is KMart. You also get to see lots of authentic people who live on the island doing their everyday shopping.
What to buy: This is the place to buy alcohol. It's cheaper than in the US, and plentiful. Buy it to drink there, buy it to take home, but be sure to check your limits with customs from your particular country.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Grocery Shopping Near Red Hook
If you rent a villa or condo on St. Thomas or St. John, you will be in need of provisions at some point. The best supermarket I have come across so far is a few minutes outside of Red Hook on St. Thomas. As you are driving to Red Hook from Charlotte Amalie, you can't miss it. The prices are of course higher than in the States due to the extra cost of shipping everything in. However, this place has the best selection of groceries. This is a good place to stock up before you head over to St. John on a car barge.
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Good for: Couples
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Good for: Solo
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Good for: Business
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