Yes, Barbados, like other Caribbean islands, has scores of duty-free shopping options right in the heart of Bridgetown near the cruise terminal. But we encourage you to consider picking up a few local items as well. Island artisans craft some of the finest rum, hot pepper sauce and tableware in the Caribbean. Plan a shopping spree that takes you from the distilleries to local grocers and farmers markets to a pottery workshop. You’ll be delighted with what you find.
We all know someone who loves super-spicy foods, so hot pepper sauce is a fantastic gift to take home from Barbados. Made from Scotch bonnet peppers, one of the hottest varieties known to man, the condiment can be used on meat, poultry and fish, or as an ingredient to spice up dressings and dips. There are dozens of local brands to sample, including Delish, Lottie’s and Aunt May’s . You can buy bottles of hot pepper sauce at local grocery stores and farmers markets, as well as at gift shops like Best of Barbados.
Rum is big business in Barbados, and various distilleries have been crafting the spirit here for more than 350 years. Head to the Mount Gay Visitor Centre in Bridgetown for a distillery tour and to purchase a few bottles to take home or try St. Nicholas Abbey rum, hand-bottled in St. Peter parish (30 minutes from the port). If you’re not sure which to visit, keep in mind that St. Nicholas Abbey rum can only be purchased at the abbey while Mount Gay can be purchased at multiple locations. A variety of shops located right in Bridgetown near the cruise terminal sell a range of brands from Mount Gay to Malibu to Cockspur.
Throughout the Caribbean you’ll find a variety of artisan bakeries that make rum cake. These dense cakes, known in Barbados as Great Cake and Black Cake, are often filled with dried fruit like currants, cherries and raisins; nuts such as almonds, pecans and walnuts; lemon, lime or orange peel; and spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and allspice. The cakes are baked and then soaked and preserved in rum (usually of the dark variety).
You can buy Barbados Great Cake at any Best of Barbados gift shop (there’s one at Bridgetown Cruise Terminal as well as an outpost at the airport; in Holetown, St. James; and Rockley and St. Lawrence Gap in Christ Church) or pick up a Calypso Rum Cake at the brand’s shop at Bridgetown Cruise Terminal.
Rum is not the only thing Bajans drink. Syrups to make drinks like ginger beer, sorrel (a plant) and mauby (from tree bark) make interesting gifts so your friends and relatives can blend their own tropical tonics at home. Local grocers stock these syrups, as does the chain of Best of Barbados gift shops.
Earthworks Pottery, one of Barbados’ best-known artisan workshops, is located in Edgehill Heights in the parish of St. Thomas. Visitors tour the workshop, just a 20-minute cab ride from Bridgetown Cruise Terminal, to see how the red-clay ceramic pieces are molded and then fired to create tableware. It’s an interesting process, and the shop carries a variety of Caribbean-themed gift items from full complete plate settings to bowls, vases, and candleholders.