Shopping in the Virgin Islands is the best in the world. Bold claim? Not only are there hundreds, even thousands of unique retailers ranging from mom-and-pop shops run out of converted garages to huge emporiums of luxury good, our duty-free allowance is double that of most locations worldwide! What’s more, we have no sales tax.
What is Duty-Free Anyway?
In all my years of living in the Virgin Island, those glittering stores full of Swiss chocolate and Rolexes nestled next to cartons of Marlboro Reds have been a mystery to me… until now.
Simply put, if you are traveling here, you can take home $1600 worth of duty-free goods. This means your purchases are free of import and customs fees. When returning home, you will be required to fill out a separate customs form for these items.
You may also take 5 cartons of cigarettes and 5 litres of liquor back as long as one of the bottles is a product made in the Virgin Islands.
If you reside here and are thinking, great, let’s go shopping! Sorry locals, at any reputable duty-free shop you will be asked to prove that you are leaving the Virgin Islands by ship or plane. Furthermore, most of the time, purchased items are delivered to you at your point of departure.
Made in the Virgin Islands
Not so interested in imported luxury items? The Virgin Islands abound in one-of-a-kind collectibles, art and locally produced goods. Tillett Gardens on St. Thomas, the city of Christiansted on St. Croix, and the rural town of Coral Bay on St. John are hotbeds of boutique galleries and artist studios. Find everything from house-made organic bug repellent that smells divine and is good for the environment to large scale sculptures and paintings by acclaimed Virgin Islands artists.
On St. John, seek out Pottery in Paradise. The Virgin Islands has its own school of world class potters and ceramic artist including Gail Van De Bogurt, Donald Schnell and Kaye Thomas Eichner. The Antiques Roadshow of the future will regard these artists as a highly collectable group, and so should you!
For more favorites on St. John, visit the Cruz Bay, St. John Shopping Guide.
In Christiansted on St. Croix, visit The Courtyard for amazing vegetarian fare and baked goods, local art, community activism and a full schedule of wellness classes in the upstairs yoga studio.
To create your own art on St. Thomas, check out the Amy Gibbs Gallery at Tillett Gardens. Paint, draw and sculpt, all while sipping premium wine with friends! Amy’s Art Uncorked is an entertaining way to create your own keepsake of the islands.
Above, we have selected a single art studio/gallery per island, but there are hundreds of artists in the VI. This special place makes and attracts those with creative spirits. Seek unique treasures, and you will find them, everywhere.
Shopping on St. John
It’s amazing how much hustle and bustle can fit inside just a few blocks. Restaurants, bars, shops and people from all walks of life are busy (or, in some cases, not-so-busy) doing their thing. As you stroll from shop to charming shop you can’t help but notice the international flavor of St. John. This stems from our history of colonization and our current status as a top destination for world travelers. The wonderful arts and crafts of the Caribbean can be found intersperse with flavors from the Italian countryside, Asian market wares, and All-American goods.
For those who love quirk and charm, Coral Bay is a Shangri-La. At Kareso Studio, Full Moon Gallery and Island Muse, you will find one of a kind objects of art created by over 50 local artists. Discover paintings, ceramics, prints, photography, handicrafts, jewelry, clothing, lotions, candles, edibles, and more. Multi-generational (run by mother, now daughter, for over 30 years) Mumbo Jumbo is the go-to for locals shopping for affordable fashions; it’s a visitor favorite too, with the best selection of t-shirt and souvenirs anywhere on the island.
Shopping on St. Thomas
Historical downtown Charlotte Amalie is both charming and bustling. Hundreds of stores fit inside a few city blocks on Dronningens Gade, also known as Main Street. Here you will find everything from duty-free haute couture to delightful street vendors. Across from Emancipation Park, in downtown Charlotte Amalie, you will find the Vendor Plaza. This is an outdoor market featuring souvenirs, t-shirts and beachwear. Get your hair braided or enjoy an assortment of local foods, drinks, and ice cream.
The Buccaneer Mall, Port of Sale, and Havensight Mall unite to make up the Havensight shopping area and cruise ship dock which is comprised of nearly 100 jewelry, clothes, perfumes, liquor, electronics, souvenir, and music shops and restaurants. If you are staying near by, or arrive by cruise ship, you can find everything you need including banks, a post office, a bookstore, and a gourmet grocery store. Hungry shoppers can refuel at Delly Deck or Senor Frog.
Yacht Haven Grande
Yacht Haven Grande includes a luxury yacht marina, restaurants, a salon and spa, and more than forty boutiques, including Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach, BCBG, and Max Azria. Enjoy Fat Turtle, Grande Cru or Fresh Bistro for dinner or lunch, and Bad Ass for coffee drinks. During high season, Yacht Haven offers outdoor concerts, movies, kid’s activities and other special events.
Disembark from the passenger ferry at Red Hook and step into a shopping district with dozens of convenient shops, restaurants, banks and grocers. Less luxury and more basic needs, you will find Ace Hardware, Chelsea Drug, Island Marine, and Moe’s Fresh Market. Grab a pint and Molly Malone’s and watch the ferries come and go, or stock up on quality name brand surf and beachwear at one of the Caribbean Surf Company’s three locations.
Shopping on St. Croix
Christiansted is an oasis of colonial and local architecture, culinary innovation, and distinctive wares. The narrow streets and alleyways are lined with bakeries, odd five and dime souvenir shops, and galleries offering paintings, photography, glass works, arts and crafts. A standout for sustainable fashion is Asha; owner Sara Jane Mace uses hand printed, hand loomed natural fabrics and globally sourced prints to produce her signature line of clothing. Beyond shopping, some of the most talked about restaurant in the world can be found in Christiansted including balter, Zion Modern Kitchen, and for sublime drinks, BES Craft Cocktail Lounge.
Rediscover Frederiksted! In decline for a number of years, the government and local activist and commerce groups have banded together to revitalize this historic area of St. Croix. Find great water sports shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars.
While in Frederiksted don’t miss the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts – an epicenter of activity, where residents and visitors of all ages can enjoy innovative arts and cultural programs.
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