By Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon
CJ Travel Editor
Souvenir shopping in the Caribbean? For the love of God, put down that fridge magnet, shot glass or oversize sombrero. And don’t get me started on those knitted hats with the faux dreadlocks! I’ve found 20 stores across the Caribbean where you’ll find authentic, locally made products your friends will be delighted to receive – if you can bear to give them away.
Find the best of the BVI’s art and craft – as well as a large selection of sun-washed T-shirts and Aragorn’s signature ceramic “fireballs” – at this funky little shop a few minutes’ walk from the airport on Tortola.
Atelier Turquoise, Grenadines
This waterfront store on the outpost of Union Island is a tiny treasure trove of art, craft and semi-precious jewelry made by tres charmant French owner and artist Annie-France DuLac.
Bermuda Perfumery, Bermuda
Take a free tour of this Bermuda fragrance house, founded in the 1920s and famous for its Lili Bermuda line of perfume, and then snag one of 18 men’s, women’s and unisex scents, including the new, limited-edition Mary Celestia.
Bridget Sandals, Jamaica
Kingston designer Bridget Brown’s handmade leather flats have been worn by the island’s most fashionable feet for more than 30 years.
Caribbean Canvas Company, Grand Cayman
In high-end shopping mall Camana Bay, this outfitter is my shop of choice for canvas totes, cool Cayman T-shirts and – surprise! – pet accessories.
Coco Shop, Antigua
Vera Bradley meets Lily Pulitzer meets Vineyard Vines with a Caribbean twist at this airport store which is packed to the rafters with clothing, accessories and tableware that’s been handmade on island since 1948 from colorful batik and Liberty print cottons.
Concalma, Puerto Rico
The capacious and versatile canvas totes that are bestsellers at this small Old San Juan boutique will take you from the sand to the supermarket in style.
Flavors of the Turks and Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands
When on Provo, this Regent Village shop should be your go-to for the island’s Bambarra brand of rum, locally harvested sea salt and condiments both spicy and sweet.
Gallery of West Indian Art, Jamaica
Shop original (you guessed it) West Indian art and the store’s signature polka-dot wooden figurines at this off-the-beaten-path Montego Bay boutique.
IB Designs, St Croix
Neighboring Sonya’s Ltd claims to have invented the USVI’s signature hook bracelet but Christiansted’s IB Designs adds a contemporary spin to the classic with versions inspired by nature and Taino symbols.
Irie Life, Anguilla
If you’re going to buy a souvenir T-shirt, buy it here, where the fashion-forward inventory goes far beyond the usually boxy crew-neck suspects.
You’ll find lower priced copycats all along Playa Del Carmen’s Fifth Avenue, but it’s worth spending a few extra bucks to get a genuine Jellyfish lamp, made from local gourds studded with colored glass and strung with “tentacles” of shells.
Ligne St Barth, St Barth
Ditch the Jergens and add some French-Caribbean chic to your medicine cabinet with this luxurious line of bath and body products made with coconut and avocado oils, aloe vera and tropical fruit.
These two Tulum shops (on the beachfront and in the pueblo) are jam-packed with locally crafted gifts and art, including the enchanting carved wooden cherubs you see all over Mexico.
My Ocean, Bahamas
Natural sea sponges, soy candles, small pottery pieces and five Caribbean-themed fragrance collections of lotions, shower gels and scrolls of glycerin soap are bestsellers at this Bahamian version of The Body Shop in the U.S. departures terminal at the airport in Nassau.
Newcastle Pottery, Nevis
Swing by this workshop for their signature vessels and candleholders made from locally sourced red clay that’s been fired over coconut husks.
Olé, Puerto Rico
Baseball caps are for boys; grown-up men (and women) can nab a stylin’ Panama hat from this Old San Juan store where you’ll be fitted by experts and can customize your topper with the colorful ribbon of your choice.
St Nicolas Abbey, Barbados
Tour this Jacobean plantation house then pick up a bottle of their 10- or 15-year-old rum, which is sealed with a monogrammable leather stopper and can be refilled on your next visit.
Zaka, St Lucia
Make a bee-line for Zaka’s cottage studio in Soufriere for whimsical Crayola-colored masks and totems carved from old telephone poles and reclaimed wood.
Sue Ricketts’ three boutiques are one-stop shops for island-style beach wear, jewelry and accessories.