A getaway to the U.S. Virgin Islands may feel like it will last forever while you're on your trip—the sign of a good vacation—but, trust us, you're going to want something to remember your time in "America's Paradise" after you've boarded your return flight home. The unique shopping opportunities on St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, distinctly reflect the personality of the individual islands. While St. Thomas offers luxury brands and high-end designers, St. John prides itself on local craftsmanship, and St. Croix boasts a thriving local art scene. Whether it's a distinctive hook bracelet from St. Croix, a historic woven basket from St. John, or a sampling of the world-renowned island hot sauce from St. Thomas, it's always nice to bring a bit of the tropics with you wherever you go. From historic seaside markets to world-class luxury marinas, here are the 8 best places to go shopping in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Market Square is a must-visit spot for travelers looking to purchase local crafts and artwork. Located in downtown St. Thomas, the market is situated on Main Street (Also known as Dronningens Gade Street) in the capital of Charlotte Amalie. The market was originally an 18th-century slave market but is now home to a variety of local vendors selling tropical fruit and local herbs (as well as the aforementioned woven items). Though some vendors will set up shop all week-long, the biggest (and best) day to visit the market is on Saturdays, when seemingly all of St. Thomas turns out for the outdoor shopping affair.
Yacht Haven Grande
For travelers looking for high-end fashion brands and luxury boutiques, Yacht Haven Grande, located on Long Bay Road in Charlotte Amalie, is the place to visit. Operated by IGY Marinas, Yacht Haven is a luxury marina for megayachts with a 120,000-square-foot retail complex featuring such hallowed names as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Bulgari. After your shopping spree, be sure to visit one of the upscale restaurants located in the marina—after all that spending, you deserve some nice champagne.
Royal Dane Mall (Gladys' Cafe)
Another shopping destination in downtown Charlotte Amalie is the Royal Dane Mall—and, although the area is popular with day-trippers stepping off their cruise ship for the afternoon, there's a hidden gem tucked away along these cobblestone streets: the beloved Gladys' Cafe. A trip to St. Thomas isn't complete without a visit to this local Caribbean eatery that has achieved cult status amongst locals and visitors alike. The culinary hot-spot isn't just the hottest under-the-radar institution in Charlotte Amalie, but—thanks to its legendary homemade sauce—it is arguably the hottest spot in all of the Virgin Islands. We recommend bringing a taste of the islands home with you by purchasing the Mango and Oil & Vinegar hot sauces—a package-deal aptly referred to as Island Flavor.
While St. John doesn't have the sheer quantity of shops that can be found in St. Thomas—it certainly matches the island's level of spice. And you don't have to look very far to find it—St. John Spice greets travelers right at the ferry dock in Cruz Bay with a scorching selection of Virgin Island flavors (from Anna's to Jerome's to Blind Betty's). Additionally, St. John's is known for its local craftsmanship and the talent of its artisans and travelers to Cruz Bay should check out the hand-crafted ceramics on display at Donald Schnell Studio.
Mongoose Junction is the heart of the St. John shopping scene. This is the area to visit if you're interested in hand-painted jewelry, local designers, and supporting Caribbean artistry. Travelers perusing these storefronts should keep an eye out for woven baskets, as the St. John Market Basket has a long history on the island. The Bajo El Sol Gallery & Art Bar was founded in 1993 by a cooperative of St. John artists and doubles as both a gallery space and a libation station. (Rum only enhances the shopping experience, after all). Head to Bamboula for hand-crafted bowls, straw hats, and other local handiwork, and check out Bougainvillea for some more contemporary brands like Tommy Bahama and La Perla.
Coral Bay, St. John
Coral Bay in St. John offers even more local craftsmanship to discover along with some fresh culinary flavors. Head to Awl Made Here to check out the leather goods and artwork created entirely by hand on the island of St. John. Next, head over to Stein Works to inspect the hand-crafted gemstone and sea glass jewelry created by Sandi Stein. And, it may not be a proper souvenir, but we highly suggest visiting the Dolphin Market to peruse the local delicacies before you leave. A hidden gem tucked away inside the Cocoloba Mall, most tourists wouldn't think to peruse a grocery store on their vacation—but in Coral Bay, it's highly recommended and the spice selection is especially nice.
Christiansted, St. Croix
Christiansted is the largest city on the island of St. Croix and boasts a vibrant art scene. That art scene is celebrated on the third Thursday of every month for an event known as Art Thursday. But, even if you're not visiting during this time period, be sure to check out the Mitchell Larson Studio, and to keep an eye out for the breathtaking photography of Emelyn Morris-Sayre, which is sold in many shops and galleries throughout the island.
Additionally, for more Crucian artistry, we recommend visiting the family-owned boutique, Crucian Gold to inspect the gorgeous hand-made jewelry on display. We're partial to the classic Crucian Hook Necklaces—the jewelry is a signature style of the island, and can also be found at the Tropical Bracelet Factory. Finally, if you're interested in home decor and island apparel, be sure to visit Debbie Sun Design Studio, Island Contessa, and From The Gecko while you're exploring the shopfronts and boutiques of Christiansted.
Frederiksted, St Croix
St. Croix's nickname is "Twin City" due to the two cosmopolitan hubs of Christiansted and Frederiksted—the former is located to the northeast, the latter to the islands' western end. Meander the historic town of Frederiksted to sample even more locally-crafted items and peruse the waterfront gift shops—and with fewer crowds than you'd discover in Christiansted. And be sure to visit Franklin's on the Waterfront—the eclectic shop provides an array of hand-made crafts and souvenirs, as well as a healthy selection of Cruzan Rum