St. Thomas offers a treasure trove of port shopping in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Cruisers looking for jewelry, perfume and rum and other trinkets, such as cameras and electronics, can take advantage of the duty-free allowance available for U.S. residents (currently $1,600 -- double the amount of goods purchased elsewhere in the Caribbean).
Your St. Thomas shopping begins near the cruise port at Havensight Mall, where an outdoor collection of jewelry stores, T-shirt shops and souvenir stalls awaits you. These shops are organized in seven buildings just a few steps from your cruise ship. A short taxi ride from the cruise port will take you to Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where you can stroll Main Street in a more historic setting in search of the perfect souvenir to take home.
Here are some of our favorite St. Thomas port shopping finds to look out for on your next shore shopping spree -- and how to score them for the best price.
Throughout the Virgin Islands, you'll find plenty of stores peddling jewelry, loose diamonds and other gemstones. The bright turquoise stone Larimar (mined in the Dominican Republic) is also extremely popular throughout the Caribbean, and you'll find plenty of it in St. Thomas.
If you're shopping in St. Thomas near the cruise port, you'll find dozens of duty-free stores, including Diamonds International and other jewelers selling diamonds, tanzanite and other gemstones for about the same price as you'll find farther from the port.
In Charlotte Amalie, visit Cardow Jewelers on Main Street and at Crown Bay Marina (another shopping district) to purchase original island jewelry creations from this longtime USVI jeweler, including the exclusive Cardow Cuff bracelet, as well as Caribbean-inspired pearl-and-blue topaz rings, necklaces and earrings.
Rum has long been a popular USVI export duty-free regulations allow you to purchase up to 5 liters of alcohol to bring back home, as long as one of them was produced in a U.S. territory. Cruzan is probably the best known locally produced rum, but there are several other distilleries, including Bones Rum, sold at Caribana on Main Street.
For a large selection of other liquors, head over to Luryx Duty Free at A.H. Riise Mall in Charlotte Amalie. There are also several shops conveniently located in St. Thomas near the cruise port at Havensight Mall.
For a practical souvenir you will wear again and again, consider purchasing a custom-made pair of sandals at Zora of St. Thomas (ask a cab driver to take you -- all the locals know where Zora's shop is located).
Plan to arrive early if you want to take the sandals home with you that day, as you'll need to be sized and then fitted later in the day for your new sandals. Otherwise, they can be mailed to your home.
Locally made art and handicrafts
Crown Bay cruise port is the place for cruisers to find artisanal crafts and goods, such as hand-carved mahogany spice racks, calabash bowls, conch shell lamps and other handmade items.
During holidays, such as Carnival and Christmas, look for the , featuring dozens of local makers selling art, bath and beauty products, food and wine.
For a spicy treat, bring home a few bottles of locally made hot sauces. Gladys' Cafe in Charlotte Amalie is a favorite local for traditional fish dishes, conch fritters and more; of course, you can also purchase Gladys' famous hot sauces.
Fans of history, sailing and pirates might want to take home some booty, in the form of an authentic coin from one of many area shipwrecks that have dotted the Virgin Islands' waters throughout the centuries. A great place to find authentic coins is The Pirates Chest, at Pirate's Treasure: A Shipwreck Museum, located across from Havensight Mall near the cruise port, at the base of the SkyRide gondola.
T-shirts and souvenirs
When you're shopping in St. Thomas near the cruise port for T-shirts and knickknacks, you don't need to go any farther than Havensight Mall, just a short walk (or free shuttle ride) away from where ships dock. Shops, such as Local Color and Island in the Sun Boutique, feature a variety of budget-friendly T-shirts and souvenirs, including guayabera shirts and batik-dyed beach wraps.