Die-hard shoppers need to go to neighboring Providenciales, or “Provo” for the best shopping in the area. Grand Turk is mostly limited to tourist-oriented souvenirs and knick-knacks that can be found at any of the Caribbean islands.
However, Grand Turk does have a few items that are locally made and sold in Grand Turk, but you have to know where to find them. Here are six of the top items to buy in Grand Turk and where you can find them.
The craft of weaving baskets using local wild palms and grasses has been passed down from one generation to another in Grand Turk. Today, baskets (as well as miniature sailboats and hats) can be found at the Middle Caicos Co-op.
The Middle Caicos Co-op was created by six straw and basket artists to encourage the traditional heritage and culture of the Turks and Caicos and to provide income for the island elders. Now the co-op is 40 basket and straw artists strong, with the addition of other local artisans.
You can pick up some of the baskets and other straw items at the Turks and Caicos National Museum on Front Street. It’s just a $5 cab ride from the cruise port.
The salt industry in Turks and Caicos began in the 1600s when salt rakers came from Bermuda and recognized that the islands’ coastal flatlands were ideal for collecting salt.
Today, visitors can stop by the Salt House (just four miles from the pier or a $5 cab ride) and learn a fascinating history of the salt industry. There’s also an exhibit on a Bermuda sloop, the ships that are used in salt production, as well as a replica of a working windmill.
The gift shop is an outpost of Salt Cay Salt Works, which sells handmade soaps, bath salts, culinary salts and premier cooking salt (fleur de sel, or finishing salt) made from organic sea salt that forms naturally on the small remote island of Salt Cay, located just south of Grand Turk.
Produced on the islands, Bambarra Rum takes its name from a slave ship that washed up in the 1800s. Its products are blends of sugarcane rum that come in several options ranging from black and gold to coconut — and many are award-winning. The rum can be found at shops throughout the island, or swing by the Grand Turk Liquor store on Pond Street in Cockburn Town. You’ll have to check it once you get back on the ship, but it’s worth it because you can’t find it in the United States.
Photographs are great, but consider bringing back a locally-made painting of the gorgeous scenery. A number of artists depict the azure waters and culture of the islands on canvas.
Try the Turks and Caicos National Museum for beautiful items and to find street artisans selling their works. Street artists don’t typically set up in a specific location, but your best bet is to try Front Street. You can bargain with the artist, but keep in mind that you are buying original artwork.
Sure, you can buy postcards at any stand in the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Actually, you can buy just about anything there, from jewelry to T-shirts and even alcohol. But if you want something unique that will inspire envy with friends and family, try the Turks and Caicos National Museum on Front Street. They stock most of the authentic gifts and books about the island. You’ll also find a prime selection of postcards, with choices of modern cards or reprints of vintage cards.
This is definitely more of a touristy thing, but these shells are so cool. After the mollusks have been removed from queen conchs for preparation in conch fritters, salad or cracked conch, the beautiful pink shells are cleaned and used as decorative items, planters and musical instruments. The law on exporting conch shells currently allows visitors to take up to three conch shell products during open season only (usually July 15 to October 15). Double-check the laws in Grand Turk and the laws in the United States at the time of your cruise in case of any changes. Most gift shops around the cruise terminal sell conch shells.