Souvenir shopping in Exuma offers a unique and authentic experience away from the hordes of bargain shoppers in Nassau. The Bahamas, and in particular Nassau, used to be famous as a tax-free port. However, duty-free is not what it used to be. You won’t find that fabulous Fendi at a huge discount anywhere in the Bahamas.
If you are interested in duty-free stores, most are huddled around Bay Street in New Providence. But for a more elegant duty-free shopping experience, try Atlantis on Paradise Island.
Exuma doesn’t boast huge designer shopping centers or duty-free stores – that’s part of its charm – but it has a number of local artisans, artists and iconic stores offering unique and authentic shopping experiences, not to mention distinct and beautiful art and souvenirs.
DON’T MISS THESE ARTISANAL SHOPS AND ART GALLERIES
Sandpiper Arts & Crafts – Located across the street from Peace & Plenty, this shop has been an institution for high quality arts and crafts for three generations. It’s run by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Minns family. You’ll find swimsuits, local handmade shell jewelry, bags, coffee books about the history of the Bahamas and jewelry. They also design silk-screen T-shirts in the shop. Visitors are welcome to watch and place orders.
Wenshua Art Gallery – The proprietor, Wendy Cartwright, will be more than willing to give you a tour. It is the first of its kind on the island of Exuma. The island boats many talented artists, and until this gallery opened, there were limited opportunities for displaying their work. What could make a better gift than a hand-painted Bahamian landscape or a wooden sculpture?
The Straw Market – This series of shops in George Town is welcoming and varied in its wares. It offers a wide range of Bahamian straw bags, hats and beachwear. You can also find seashell crafts, wooden boxes and t-shirts. You can even have your hair braided.
YOU CAN ALSO FIND AUTHENTIC BAHAMIAN SOUVENIRS
Bahamian wood carvings reveal the island’s rich African heritage. You can see wood carvers chipping away at large tree stumps in locals markets and also in a number of stores. The quality varies from chunky and crude to fine works of art.
Straw weaving is one of the Bahamas’ oldest industries and while the obvious items are baskets, placemats, and hats, watch for some weavers who are trying to bring the art into the modern world with modern designs for handbags and clutch purses. One such weaver and designer is Marva Dean who has created the Marva Dean Collection. She actually produces on Long Island and doesn’t have her own shop but you’ll know her work when you see it. You may be able to find samples of her work in better gift stores such as the Sandpiper Arts & Crafts.
Other unique gift ideas include: coconut tea, hand-made shell earrings, or a Batik wall hanging with locally inspired prints. The beauty of souvenir shopping on Exuma is authenticity, friendliness and quality.
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