While many of us head to the Caribbean with our heads focused on hours upon hours of rest and relaxation, some of us long for busy days spent being active under the Caribbean sun.
These vacationers dream of spending their days doing things like scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, and shopping. Wait, shopping? Yes, shopping, but not just any shopping either – Caribbean duty free shopping. The region is known as one the best places for deep discounted duty free shopping in the entire world, so a trip to the Caribbean is almost always accompanied with a fantastic deal or two.
For those that like to mix in finding a little deal-hunting in with their diving, here are the top five Caribbean duty free shopping destinations.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
The most populated of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is also one of the most popular destinations in the entire Caribbean for duty free shopping – especially for Americans. Americans are allowed to bring home nearly three times as many duty free goods from the Virgin Islands as other Caribbean outposts, and the capital, Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, is the epicenter of the shopping. Main Street is home to one shop after another selling everything from high end jewelry and fashion to electronics and alcohol, all at steep discounts. Other hotspots on St. Thomas are Havensight Mall, Yacht Haven Grand, and Back Street.
Nassau is the hub of duty free shopping in the Bahamas, with its legendary Bay St. being a who’s who of luxurious name brands from all over the globe. For the other side of the coin, the famous Straw Market with more handmade crafts is also a deep-discount depot, especially if you know how to negotiate.
St. Maarten/St. Martin
If there was one place that couple compete with St. Thomas, it would be St. Maarten/St. Martin. The Dutch side of this split island is a duty free shopping mecca, with its capital Philipsburg offering endless opportunities for sparkling jewelry, the latest electronics, high-end fashion, handcrafted rums, and island artwork. Front Street is the home of many of the best shops, including well known international brands. The French side of the island, St. Martin has stepped its duty free game up in recent years, with Marigot being the center of the fashionable action.
If you fancy a bit of British flair in your shopping bag, well then Barbados the island for you. Mixing in exquisite local black coral jewelry and rums with British products at prices unheard of across the Atlantic, Barbados is a unique slice of Caribbean shopping life. Broad Street in Bridgetown is the base of the duty free shopping, with many of the larger stores here having satellite locations around the island and at the ferry terminal. The largest department store on the island, Cave Shepard, also gets in on the action, and is truly a one-stop-shop.
Curaçao is home Harbor Duty Free Zone, the largest area of its kind in the entire Caribbean. Products here run the gamut from glamorous to practical, but while technically not meeting the textbook definition of duty free – there is a tiny duty charge – the prices here low enough to still make them feel like a steal.
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