Never Miss a Chance to Shop While in the Virgin Islands

By Karla Jones


There's something about being on vacation that brings out the urge to shop in many people - whether for native crafts from a beach side vendor or expensive jewelry at duty-free prices. Nowhere is that more true than in the Caribbean, where exclusive shops have elevated merchandising to an art form and the sheer numbers of cruise ship passengers and vacationing mainlanders almost guarantee a party atmosphere.

When you're visiting your getaway home on St. John, indulge your shopping urge at Mongoose Junction and Wharfside in Cruz Bay, drive out of town to explore Coral Bay, and stroll through interesting small shops at East End. Consider the distinctive St. John Hook silver bracelet as a lasting reminder of your island home, and perhaps design a ring or pendant to be crafted specifically for you, incorporating an ancient Spanish or Dutch West Indies coin.

Don't Limit Yourself

If you're serious about shopping, however, there's no reason to limit yourself to St. John, when a short charter boat trip or helicopter ride can position you to take advantage of shopping opportunities on neighboring U.S. islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix, or one of the islands of the BVI. Each island has a slightly different personality - why miss any of it? Our trip consultants can help you with all the details.

Charlotte Amalie is the largest city on St. Thomas. It is also the fly-in and cruise-in point for the bulk of island traffic, so it is almost always crowded. Good buys abound, and you will find prices deeply discounted from U.S. stores. Cameras, leather products, electronics, jewelry, perfume, crystal and china are all available from reputable shops. U.S. Customs regulations are generous, and each American citizen may return home with $1,600 worth of duty-free merchandise, double the amount allowed from any other Caribbean island. Keep your sales receipts, though, and keep all items grouped together for inspection.

Plan a Combined Excursion

While shopping is a worthy goal in itself, planning a day trip should include other pleasures as well. Charter a powerboat to reach St. Thomas, and ask the captain to put in at Red Hook so you can enjoy a spectacular local seafood lunch at Off the Hook. You can take a taxi to Charlotte Amalie. Your captain can also dock at Yacht Haven Grande, where you'll find shops conveniently close, including Gucci, Bulgari, Coach, Sunglass Hut, Louis Vuitton, Diamonds International and many others. 

St. Croix offers a different island flavor, a little more "foreign," options for beach adventure, horseback riding, kite flying or sports events, and great shopping and dining, too. Spend some time on Strand Street in Frederiksted, or peruse the pretties on old Danish cobblestone streets of Christiansted before finding a shady spot for lunch and a cool drink. Your helicopter pilot will be waiting to whisk you and your packages the short distance back to your St. John retreat by dusk.

Topics: St. John USVI, LifestyleOne, Things To Do