Yes, St. Thomas is the island to cruise to if you’re look for duty-free items. But you can also buy distinctive items that will instantly remind you of your cruise to the island and all of its culture and tradition. Here, we show you just some of the top shopping finds and where to find them.
This is the U.S. Virgin Islands way of letting people know whether you’re single or taken. If you’re wearing the bracelet so the hook faces out, you’re available. If it’s facing in “toward the heart,” you’re in a relationship. Nobody who hasn’t traveled there will understand the hidden meaning; they’ll just think you’re wearing a cool funky bracelet. This popular island fashion statement originated at Sonya Ltd. in St. Croix, but now you can get replicas in many Charlotte Amalie jewelry stores. Or buy a cheap version in the Vendor’s Plaza (at the corner of Veterans Drive and Tolbod Gade).
If you’re looking for one of those renowned St. Thomas jewelry bargains but would like it to have genuine island significance, think Cardow. This island jeweler makes watches featuring the three USVI islands within the faces of the watches. Men’s and ladies’ styles range from a simple $50 stainless-steel finish to gold with diamond bezel for upward of $1,000 (often deeply discounted, of course). If watches aren’t your thing, the same three-island motif is featured in handsome desk clocks.
The name bush tea sounds a little primitive, but in fact the most popular of the hundreds of plants and herbs that can be used in making are actually the most commonly known like lemongrass, hibiscus, mint and rosemary. Granted, the blend style that Virgin Islanders prefer has a distinct flavor and also uses native plants. They believe that a cup every morning and at bedtime keeps the doctor away much more reliably than apples. If you agree, buy some bush tea blends to take home at Native Arts and Crafts Cooperative (in downtown Charlotte Amalie across from Vendor’s Plaza, next to the tourist information office).
If you’ve been to a Carnival celebration (like those in the Caribbean and Rio or even New Orleans (Mardi Gras)) and seen the masqueraders on stilts, you may recognize the look of these tiny mementoes of island history. These dolls have roots dating back centuries. Mocko Jumbie is a spiritual guardian, a bringer of luck, a protector against evil spirits. You can find these dolls at Native Arts and Crafts Cooperative.
And for the liquor cabinet at home, or the booze connoisseur in your life who always demands a souvenir bottle, stock up on Cruzan Rum. Cruzan is known for its inexpensive flavored rums, made at a seventh-generation family distillery in St. Croix. Since the full range of products is available in St. Thomas, try the single barrel for quality … or the blackstrap to see how sailors of yore drank it. Pick up a bottle at A. H. Riise Mall.