Shop ‘Til You Drop – A Shopaholic’s Guide to the Cayman Islands

0
628

The Cayman Islands offers plenty of opportunities for shoppers to indulge in their favorite hobby. From upscale retail to unique boutiques.

Duty-Free Shopping

There are many places to go shopping in the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Islands are famous for their beaches and coral reefs, but duty-free shopping ranks right up there as a significant draw for visitors. Many cruise ships dock in George Town specifically so their guests can experience the Island’s extensive duty-free shopping.

With no markup for duty fees, sales taxes, taxes, or GST (Value Added Tax), island retail prices can be significantly lower than those in mainland countries. Jewelry watches and loose diamonds are particularly popular buys. Several duty-free jewelers are in the city, including Kirk Freeport on Harbour Drive, the official Rolex boutique at the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman, and Tag Heure on Cardinall Avenue. Cameras and leather goods are also duty-free, as is a wide selection of artwork from local artists such as Dredy with his fun, humorous slice-of-life art and Renate Seffer with her colorfully painted pieces. Several department stores in the city offer a full range of merchandise, and shoppers can enjoy First Wednesdays. Participating shops stay open until 8 p.m. in this special event, and shoppers can take advantage of special offers and spot prizes.

Supermarkets

As the largest Island, Grand Cayman boasts many supermarkets to cater to residents and tourists alike. The Island’s grocery stores carry various local and international products. Most larger supermarkets have a hot bar and serve lunch items on the go.

Many of the shops and boutiques in George Town have a large selection of local treasures like jewelry, accessories, clothes, and shoes—the upscale stores stock top-designer brands, including Chanel, Cartier, and Rolex. The Island also has several high-end jewelers who offer finely-crafted diamond and gemstone pieces.

The islands’ supermarkets have a variety of fresh local produce, imported food, and beverages. You can find many cheeses and wines from Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The supermarkets also sell Caymanian, Jamaican and British products. Be sure to try the local delicacy of turtle stew while on the Island, a favorite among locals and adventurous visitors. It is served with beans and rice, cole slaw, and plantains.

Farmer’s Markets

The Cayman Islands may be famous for its duty-free shopping, but other ways exist to satisfy your cravings for the local flavor. Local markets teem with fresh local fruits and vegetables, handmade crafts, and artisan jewelry.

Many local businesses source their ingredients from the market and keep their menus seasonal. For instance, Jessie’s Juice Bar works closely with the local farmers and keeps their menus in line with what is freshest. And Gelato & Co uses locally grown fruit sorbets from guava to soursop, mango, and passionfruit.

To taste what is growing on the Island, head to the Wednesday Camana Bay Farmers’ Market and the Saturday market at the Cricket Grounds. This is the perfect place to stock up on locally-grown produce, seasonings, hot sauces, and herbs. You can also find quality decorative and fruit-bearing plants. And remember to try a sample of the renowned pepper jelly! You’ll even be able to pick up some handmade Caymanian jewelry, hand-woven straw hats and bags, soaps, and natural coconut creams made with mother nature’s healing powers.

Local Crafts

The Cayman Islands may be best known as a duty-free shopping paradise, but the local arts and crafts scene is worth exploring. The Cayman Craft Market located a short walk from the cruise ship pier in George Town, was developed as an avenue for local artists to showcase their indigenous products. It has become a part of the tourism product thousands of visitors enjoy yearly.

Silver thatch baskets (Coccothrinax proctor ii) and other traditional artisan crafts have been a Caymanian heritage for centuries. Families walked miles into the bush to collect bundles of the silver thatch palm and used a unique notch plaiting method to weave them into baskets, which were then traded for goods from ships at sea.

The Cayman Islands have an abundance of dazzling art galleries that are also great places to buy unique souvenirs. Check out the work of Shane Aquart, whose Dready character you’ll see on many prints around Grand Cayman, or 3 Girls and a Kiln, who produce art that you can find all over the Island; they turn polished native Caymanite into sculptures and baubles.

Shopping in George Town

Whether looking for cost-effective and mindful souvenirs or the ultimate luxury, George Town has it all. From a plethora of shopping centers, hubs, and markets to boutique shops and local artisans, the city offers an endless supply of not-to-be-missed items to take home.

For example, visitors can sample and purchase fresh tropical fruits at Thomas Russell Avenue’s Farmers’ Market Cooperative, the Tortuga Rum Company’s rum cakes or pick up some handmade baskets or hats from the city’s artisan craftsmen and women. Jewelry made from hard Cayman Brac caymanite stones, underwater photographs, and colorful local artwork is also famous.

For more upscale shopping, Kirk Freeport at The Bayshore Mall is the place to go for high-end goods such as jewelry, clothing, and more. However, travelers should be sure to double-check that their duty-free allowance is enough to cover the price of the item they’re buying and ensure the item will be able to enter their country upon return.