USVI - Shopping


Lynda Lohr

When the beach and watersports pale, shopping beckons, and shopkeepers in both St. John and St. Thomas stock their shelves with the most tantalizing items — trinkets and libations that are perfect for taking home or enjoying on vacation.Duty-free makes many items, luxury jewelry in particular, a bargain. With an allowance of $1,600 for U.S. residents, including children — twice that of other Caribbean islands — visitors can bring home suitcases full of treasures without paying duty on the goods.

If you’re taking home liquor, your dutyfree allowance is up to six bottles, as long as one of those bottles is a product of the Virgin Islands. So add that bottle of made-in-St. Croix Cruzan Rum to your liquor allowance, and you’ll be set with the rest. At most shops, cardboard boxes made to carry liquor bottles are either complimentary or quite inexpensive.

The islands are home to many artisans that craft exquisite pieces. You can find galleries sprinkled throughout, but you can also find that perfect memento at a gift shop.

When you need a new swimsuit or want to pick up some resort wear to round out your wardrobe, you’ll find a wide selection at all price points at several island stores, including Kmart, local dive shops and high-end boutiques.And you can also find T-shirts in designs that range from elegant to outrageous just about everywhere.

Looking for something special for friends? Shop for island-made hot sauce, exotic coffees, fruit-flavored teas and much more at stores across both St. John and St. Thomas. Soap is another good bet, and you can find bars from top perfumeries, as well as those made in the islands, at a variety of stores.

Strolling from store to store in St. John and St. Thomas is mostly an al fresco activity; so pack your umbrella for the occasional rain shower and don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes. When you want a break, nearly all shopping districts share the neighborhood with eateries that range from white-linen establishments to grab-and-go shacks.


St. John is artsy, and that’s an aspect of island life that’s widely reflected in the items you’ll find at the local shops. An art gallery at Mongoose Junction shopping center showcases works from the island’s top artists.

Most of St. John’s shopping is in Cruz Bay. It stretches from Wharfside Village along the Cruz Bay waterfront to multi-level Mongoose Junction at the start of the North Shore Road. In between, you’ll find plenty of shops with owners who are happy to chat about island life as they show off their wares.

If you’re headed to Coral Bay, there are a couple of shops at the Bordeaux mountain overlook on Route 10. You’ll find a few stores adjacent to Skinny Legs restaurant in the heart of the village.Head out on Route 107 to find a few more places at the Cocoloba shopping center, as well as one or two shops adjacent to the Shipwreck Landing restaurant.

Visitors who would rather shop in the comfort of their own hotel can also find shops at both Caneel Bay Resort and the Westin St. John Resort & Villas.


For high-end jewelry and fashion, head straight for the Galleria at Yacht Haven Grande. This upscale complex houses Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and Coach, plus many more brand names. After a happy, exhausting day of shopping here, you’ll be glad to find that Yacht Haven Grande is also an oasis of restaurants, salons and day spas.

Historic downtown Charlotte Amalie, as well as Havensight Mall near the cruise ship pier, are home to a wide array of shops selling everything from cameras and perfume to T-shirts and inexpensive souvenirs. You’ll also find shops at the Crown Bay Dock. Vendors Plaza at the eastern end of Charlotte Amalie across from Fort Christian is a good spot to look for bargains.When shopping in downtown Charlotte Amalie, stroll down one of the alleys that connect Main Street to the waterfront. One of those side shops might turn up the perfect gift.

If you’re not keen on the busy Charlotte Amalie and Havensight areas, you can also find stores at Red Hook near the ferry dock, and mid-island at Tutu Park Mall and Tillett Gardens. Or, simply shop at gift shops in major hotels, which carry the latest in resort wear and a big selection of gift items and souvenirs.


Joanne Curcio-Quiñones

Take a stroll along the boardwalk or under the arches of the island’s two historic towns and you might come across a bounty of irresistible finds that could include anything from a one-of-a-kind, take-home treasure to a great deal on that special item you’ve wanted for a while.

Shopping in St. Croix is as laid-back and lovely as the island’s ambience. No pressure, just fabulous choices from handcrafted jewelry and vibrant Caribbean art to brandname designer timepieces. You won’t find any long lines, pushy hawkers or jostling — just plenty of options for that special something for yourself or a loved one.

A highlight of shopping in St. Croix is the abundance of items you are unlikely to see on the mainland. You’ll find a wealth of stunning paintings, pottery, sculptures and jewelry created by local artists who are inspired by the colors, architecture and amazing natural beauty that surrounds them.

Many local jewelers have created distinctive bangle-and-clasp bracelet designs that have become emblematic of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. Locally made spices, seasonings and hot sauces invite visitors to take home a taste of the islands, while tropical fruit jams and jellies make sweet mementos. Take advantage of your visit and stock up on the local Cruzan Rum, available in several varieties and flavors.

You can find plenty of vacation staples on the island as well. A wide array of top-shelf liquors, fine porcelain, glass figurines, loose and mounted gemstones, brand-name perfumes and cosmetics, and high-end jewelry and timepieces can all be found throughout the many stores in St. Croix, often duty-free.

Speaking of taxes, there’s also no sales tax or duty on original art, so channel your inner enthusiast and add one more work to your collection, or get one started with a unique piece. And don’t sweat it if your suitcases are already full; many merchants are happy to mail your purchases directly to your home.

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