places worth seeing,
Aruba, Palm Beach is the wisest shoppers on Aruba are cost-conscious souls. Blessed with a climate much sunnier and drier than other Caribbean destinations, Aruba is Dutch, delightful and has a desert. Basking on Aruba's beaches, where it's almost always breezy and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, is only one of the island's many attractions. This superb white-sand beach put Aruba on the tourist map. Several publications, including Cond Nast Traveler, have hailed it as 1 of the 12 best beaches in the world. It's likely to be crowded in winter, but for swimming, sailing, or fishing. Much of the European china, jewelry, perfumes, watches, and crystal has a disconcerting habit of reappearing in every shopping mall and hotel boutique on the island, so after you determine exactly which brand of watch or china you want, you can comparison shop. Its Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, incidentally, stretch for some seven miles and the world famous Fishermans Huts attracts thousands of windsurfers annually for some of the best sail boarding conditions on the globe.
Barbados, The Gold Coast local shops seem to specialize in all things English. Merchandise includes bone china from British and Irish manufacturers, watches, jewelry, and perfumes. Some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean lie along the so-called Gold Coast of Barbados.. In its British Empire days, Barbados was known as Little England. It was the first colony to declare war in 1939 and cheered Britons with a cable that read: "Don't worry. Little England is with you." Today, the island is independent but still cherishes Anglo-Saxon civility, cricket and high tea. After 350 years of colonization, Britain has left its mark and added much to the beguiling charm of "Little England in the Tropics." Our favorites include Paynes Bay, Brandon's Beach, Paradise Beach, and Brighton Beach, all open to the public. Bridgetown's Broad Street is the shopping headquarters of the island, although some of the stores here maintain boutiques at many of the island's hotels and in malls along the congested southwestern coast. Except for cigarettes and tobacco, duty-free items can be hauled off by any buyer as soon as they're paid for. Duty-free status is extended to anyone showing a passport or ID and an airline ticket with a date of departure from Barbados.
The Cayman Islands, goods are sold tax free from a daunting collection of malls and minimalls throughout Grand Cayman. The Caymans were "discovered" by Christopher Columbus in 1503 and settled by the British in 1655, they still retain much of the British heritage. They are a British Crown Colony complete with a Royal Governor who represents Britain's monarch as Head of State.. Most of these are along the highway that parallels Seven Mile Beach; you'll need a car to shop around. There are also lots of stores in George Town, which you can explore on foot, poking in and out of some large emporiums in your search for bargains.
The Dominican Republic, the island's best buys include handicrafts, amber from Dominican mines, and the distinctive pale-blue semiprecious gemstone known as larimar. The amber sold by street vendors may be nothing more than orange-colored, transparent plastic. Other charming souvenirs might include a Dominican rocking chair, which is sold boxed, in ready-to-assemble pieces. Malls and souvenir stands abound in Santo Domingo, in Puerto Plata, and along the country's northern coast.
Jamaica, the shopping was better in the good old days, before taxes added a 10% surcharge. Jamaica offers a wealth of desirable goods, including flavored rums, Jamaican coffees, handicrafts, original paintings and sculpture, and cameras, watches, and DVD players. Unless you're a glutton for handmade souvenirs, you can wise to limit most of your purchases to bona fide merchants and stores.
Puerto Rico, for American citizens, there's no duty on anything bought in Puerto Rico. You can find lots of jewelry and watches, often at competitive prices, especially in the island's best-stocked area, Old San Juan. Also of great interest are such Puerto Rican handicrafts as charming folkloric papier-mch carnival masks and santos, carved wooden figures depicting saints.
St. Martin, because of the massive influx of cruise ships, shopping in Dutch St. Martin is now about the finest in the Caribbean, though you may have to fight the crowds. Because there's no duty about local crafts and concentrate on leather goods, electronics, cameras, designer fashions, watches, and crystal, along with linens and jewelry. Philipsburg, capital of the island's Dutch side, is the best place to shop. Although it can't compete with Dutch St. Martin, French St. Martin has been becoming a more popular shopping destination, especially for goods such as fashion or perfumes imported from France.