With so many islands making up the Bahamas, vacationers excited about shopping during their trip have a lot to look forward to. There are thousands of shops featuring many more products that can be purchased at great values.
Duty free items are where your best deals will be found. The 11 items on the Bahamas duty free luxury goods list are binoculars, china, crystal, fine linens, jewelry, leather goods, perfumes, photography equipment, telescopes, and watches and clocks.
Taking a hint from their Lucayan ancestors, today's craftsmen utilize local products in order to make their wares. To be sure that you are getting products that are Bahamian designed and created, look for the “Authentically Bahamian” brand. When you see this, you know that the product was evaluated by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism to ensure authenticity.
...so many shops to choose from...
Depending upon which island you visit in the Bahamas, you will find different types of shopping. Nassau and Grand Bahama are the best places to visit for the most variety, featuring both high end luxury boutiques, department stores, and local craft shops. The Out Islands will have more in the way of locally owned shops, many featuring handmade goods. Though there are hundreds upon hundreds of shops throughout the Bahamas, there are a few that stand out.
Bay Street is lined with shops ready and waiting for you to explore. Here patrons will find high end goods such as perfumes and jewelry, high end designs in the form of handbags, clothing, and other accessories, and even a few souvenir shops thrown in for good measure.
When you talk of shopping in the Bahamas, the first location to come up is almost always Straw Market Nassau. This is where local artisans come to display their wares, with everything from paintings and sculptures to conch shell jewelry and woven clothing. You can also find booths selling local spices, beverages, and foods. Price tags at the Straw Market are almost always negotiable, so don't be afraid to suggest your own price. Festival Place has a similar vibe, where local artisans set up shop to sell their personal wares, and pretty much everything is of high quality. Live entertainment sometimes takes place here. Bahamas Craft Centre on Paradise Island is the island's own version of the Nassau Straw Market. Here you will find straw work, jewelry, and weavings.
Otherwise, there are two main shopping areas on Paradise Island that patrons can choose from. The Shops at Crystal Court feature very high end luxury items, with brand names that are well known around the world (think Versace and Cartier). Marina Village, meanwhile, is definitely more laid back, with patio restaurants, live entertainment on a regular basis, souvenir shops, and other clothing and accessory stores.
The main shopping spot on Grand Bahama is Port Lucaya Marketplace. Twelve pastel colored buildings on a five-acre piece of land overlooking the marina feature over eighty stores and restaurants, a straw market featuring hundreds of handcrafted items, live entertainment, and watersports companies.
Your next best option for shopping on Grand Bahama Island is in Freeport. The capital city was specifically designed to attract trade, and is home to duty-free shopping. When shopping in Freeport, you won't want to miss the International Bazaar, which is divided into sections, with each section representing a new part of the world. Each section features shops selling wares from its particular country, and restaurants with corresponding food.
In 1992, the Bahamas ceased imposing an import duty tax on many luxury items. This means that vacationers are able to walk into duty free shops (marked with a sticker that reads “DFS” and features a pink flamingo) and purchase these items for significantly lower prices that they are used to at home. Savings often equal up to 40 percent below retail.
The official currency of the Bahamas is the Bahamian Dollar, though the U.S. Dollar is widely accepted. You may want to have a few Bahamian Dollars on hand for shops that don't accept foreign currency, but a visit to the currency exchange may not even be necessary.
Note that most stores remain open seven days a week, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. with the exception of Sunday, which sees operating hours of 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Read more about Hours of Operation here.
With so many shops to choose from, you could easily go home with more than you arrived with. If you think shopping is going to be your favorite pastime during your Bahamas vacation, make sure to bring an extra suitcase to store your items; otherwise, you may have to purchase one of those as well!
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