Shopping in the Bahamas

Posted by Brette in Travel | Travel Shopping

Conch jewelry

Yes, a whole post devoted to shopping. That’s how important shopping is! When we go on vacation, I always want to bring back items that will help me remember the true spirit of the place we visited. I long to buy items made by craftspeople and artisans who live in the place we visit and which are made with local products. Having these souvenirs keeps the trip alive for me and lets me take a piece of the place home. I have many treasured trip souvenirs: a sailor’s valentine from Cape Cod, English bone china from England, sheep from Scotland, a sea grass basket from Charleston, painted tiles with ocean scenes from Maine, a photo of the ocean and a sea turtle from

Conch carving

Hawaii, a lightship basket from Nantucket, as well as bookmarks and Christmas ornaments from many places. Because of this, a vacation is always judged by how good the shopping was!

People say there is good shopping in the Bahamas, but those who say that don’t understand the kind of shopping I crave. Yes, there are tons of t-shirt shops and straw items made in China, as well as jewelry and designer purses that are supposedly sold at good prices in Nassau. I wasn’t interested in any of that. Yes, we visited the Straw Market because you can’t go to Nassau without going there. The Straw Market is in temporary housing under a tent after a fire wiped it out years ago. It’s a tightly filled space with tons and tons of cheap junk for sale.  Interestingly, I have a straw purse my grandmother bought there when she went in the 60s and the items they sell today are identical. We didn’t buy a single thing.

Basket from The Plait LadyAfter walking up and down Bay Street in Nassau where all the shops are clustered, I started to worry. I couldn’t find anything to buy! Soon after I discovered a small shop, Uniquely Bahamas, in our hotel that sold items made in the Bahamas. It was the mother lode. They had jewelry made from conch shells. I bought a bracelet and pendant. Teen Martha got earrings and a bracelet there. I also bought a fish carved out of conch and a small print of the ocean.

When we visited Atlantis, we took a walk through the Marina Village, a shopping center placed in a marina. In between gawking at the giant yachts, IWire sculpture managed to find a nice shop called The Plait Lady. This shop sold authentic Bahamian-made straw baskets. They are incredibly heavy and are water tight. I bought one of those as well as a Christmas ornament carved from conch. I also picked up a magnet – I’ve decided to buy a small magnet each place we go and stick them on the file cabinet in my office.

One last shop that I stumbled upon was in the Wyndham hotel, next to our resort (don’t stay there though – it doesn’t compare to the Sheraton – see my previous post). They had some very interesting wire sculptures. I bought one that has a woman sitting on a piece of coral, with a straw basket at her feet, holding a blanket that has the names of the different islands on it.

When we visited Goodfellow Farms for lunch (again, see previous post), I picked up their cookbook, Living Off the Land and Sea. I haven’t had a chance to read it, but it looked very interesting, with lots of recipes for seafood and tropical fruits. I’m thinking I need to start buying cookbooks on trips too!

I was happy that I came home with a few authentic souvenirs, but was surprised they were so hard to find. It was a stark contrast to Hawaii, which was filled with many beautiful shops selling handcrafted, gorgeous items.

Where have you done your best vacation shopping?

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