Island Shopping Trip
Duration: Half Day
You may think that a holiday in the British Virgin Islands involves relaxing on beautiful beaches, escaping to deserted islands, hiking through national parks and snorkelling in crystal clear waters, and you’d be right. For those of you who are prepared for a real adventure, however, how about participating in some island shopping? This tour will take you to some of the best shops in the BVI, where you can indulge in some fantastic duty-free gifts. Prepare for some serious shopping!
Most of the best shops in the British Virgin Islands can be found on the main island of Tortola in Road Town, the capital. This authentic Caribbean town encircles a picturesque harbour, which is the centre of island life and marine activity. Mill Mall is the only shopping centre here, but you will find many shops and prestigious boutiques scattered around the harbour and town, selling everything from unique Caribbean crafts, island gifts and jewellery, to clothes, perfume and beach wear. For those looking for British or American produce, you will find an excellent collection of cheeses, wines, fresh fruits and canned goods in a shop called Apple Hamper. There are also some great bakeries around the island, offering a range of freshly-baked pastries, breads and desserts.
For art lovers looking for something different, The Gallery displays and sells original art and scenic prints from local Tortola artists, many of which depict colourful landscapes and Caribbean island life. This gallery is certainly worth browsing, even if you don’t buy anything. If you are looking for hand-made crafts by local artisans, you will find a range of beautiful items throughout the islands, including Tortola-made pottery glazed in blue-green colours that reflect the sea, as well as hand-made jewellery items made from shells, coral, pearls and silver, much of which reflect themes of the sea and the Caribbean. The picturesque Crafts Alive village is also well worth a visit, and it’s a great opportunity to interact with the locals. Here you can buy a variety of items by local craftspeople, many of which go back to African roots, such as dolls, clothing and pottery. You will also find handmade hats and bags, as well as soaps and lotions, homemade liquor and much more.
Step back in time as you walk down the narrow, winding Main Street, a charming shopping area with plenty of historic character. Explore tourist gift shops, book shops, jewellery shops, rum and spice shops and galleries, some of which are housed within colourful old buildings, typical of West Indian-style architecture. One particularly interesting building is the historic Penn House, which looks like a gingerbread house with its traditional red tin roof and clapboard walls. Shopping on Main Street is an experience not to be missed.
Other islands worth visiting for local crafts and items include Jost Van Dyke, Anegada and Virgin Gorda. If you are prepared to hunt around, you will find some great gifts and souvenirs to take home with you.
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The tourism sector in the British Virgin Islands is continuing to grow, and in 2016 it experienced a significant increase in overnight visitors. Figures released by the government revealed that more than 406,000 visitors stayed overnight in hotels, apartments, and B&Bs by the end of the year. This is the first time that the Caribbean nation has recorded more than 400,000 visitors overnight.
The north-eastern Caribbean's British Virgin Islands (BVI) is hosting its very first month-long celebration of island food this November. The BVI Food Fete's highlights will include the Anegada Lobster Festival, Restaurant Week and a range of street barbecues and parties showcasing local cuisine.
The Great House on Richard Branson's private Necker Island will be opening its doors once again to holidaymakers wanting to experience a truly luxurious Caribbean holiday, after it was badly damaged by a fire in 2011. The nine-bedroom property has been renovated over the past two years and it is scheduled to open again in September, 2013.