Shopping on Saba

Lace work, screened t-shirts, and glass work are some of the top finds on Saba

Photo credit: © underwatertourist
 

A trip to Saba tends to be a quiet experience, where vacationers go to get away from cities and their fast paced lifestyles.  It is quite in keeping, then, that shopping on Saba is a laid back experience, with no huge malls and department stores.

The Goods

Above all else, it is Saban lace that is sought after on the island of Saba.  Lace first came to Saba in the 1870s when Gertrude Johnson returned to Saba after learning the art of lace making at a convent in Caracas.  She then taught it to the other women on the island.  Today, lace making continues to support an entire community of women in Hell's Gate.  There you will find napkins, tea towels, collars, tablecloths, and more, all hand made to perfection. 

Outside of lace, some great Saban souvenirs that can't be left behind are liquors (Saba Spice is the island brand), water color paintings, framed photographs, books, and jewelry. 

Where to Shop

The island of Saba is small, and you can make it to Windwardside, where there is a mini-mall, fairly easily.  The mini mall is a great place to pick up any souvenirs you're looking for, as well as snacks, art, and clothing.  There is also a few restaurants and bars, the tourist office, a bank, and a supermarket.

Along Main Road in Windwarside, shops include Hillside Boutique, Paloma, and Peggys Boutique.  There are also two art galleries on the island, and the largest lace shop on the island is the Saba Lace Boutique, behind the Roman Catholic Church in Hell's Gate.

...the island's four villages will yield a handful of small boutique shops...

 

There are two silk screening shops on the island, that can make you personalized souvenir shirts to bring home to friends and family.  These are Around the Bend, which is in Windwardside, and the Artisan Foundation in The Bottom.  Notably, the only glass making shop in the Caribbean, Jobean's Hot Glass Studio is located on Saba.  Here, rods of glass are heated and blown into various collectible shapes and jewelry.  These make for excellent souvenirs. 

A walk through any of the island's four villages will yield a handful of small boutique shops with souvenirs worth browsing through.

Duties, Taxes, and Tips

As of January 2011, Saba's official currency is the U.S. Dollar.  The island adopted this currency after Saba became independent of the Netherland Antilles in October of 2010.  This bodes well for American tourists who will not need to exchange currency.  Major credit cards are also acceptable.

Saba is a duty free port which allows travelers to leave the island with any amount of goods that they wish.  Traveling back into the United States, however, visitors may only bring $800(USD) worth of goods with them.

Shopping on Saba may not yield the bounty of duty free luxury items that vacationers will find on other Caribbean islands, but that doesn't mean there is no hope for those looking for souvenirs.  The products that Saba has to offer are all high in quality, and filled with back story.  Every purchase supports a local artisan who worked hard to create a beautiful product, so you can return home knowing you can show off your finds with pride.

 

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