Shopping in Nassau / Paradise Island
The twin islands Nassau and Paradise Island have developed over the years to become a shopping paradise. Like the rest of Bahamas, the two great inspirations to shop here are - Duty free prices and no sales tax. So in general you can expect to save around 35 - 40% on most items you buy here.
Shops in Nassau
Photo: Kate Webster, cc by 2.0
But what should you buy? While both Nassau and Paradise Island have countless brand stores selling dress materials, jewelry, watches and other accessories, there are also many stores that specialize in local art and craft, locally crafted conch shell jewelry and stones, gifts and souvenirs, and if you go to places like the Straw Market, you can even purchase hand-woven straw items like bags and dolls.
Note that while paying in cash, you can use either US dollars or Bahamian dollars. However changes are usually returned in Bahamian dollars. While international credit cards are accepted in most stores across Nassau and Paradise Island, small stores like in Straw Market or Pompey Market will only take cash.
Here are the most popular places to explore as you shop around Nassau and Paradise Island:
This is a famous market which is named after the world renowned straw products handcrafted by the Bahamians. Over the years other than hand woven straw items like bags, dolls, hats, purses etc, the market has expanded to house hundreds of vendors selling all kinds of inexpensive gift and souvenir items, trinkets, cheap jewelry, knick knacks and even local woodcrafts and decorated conch shells.
Photo: Marada, flickr, cc by-nd 2.0
So if you are looking to pick up some cheap souvenirs or gifts, this is the place to go. It's also worth a visit to witness what this world famous market housed in a building looks like and feeling the energy of shopping. Prepare to bargain as there is no fixed price and the vendors expect you to bargain. The straw market is located in Nassau Downtown and on Bay street close to the cruise terminal.
Bay street is the heart of Nassau and bustling with shops and restaurants of all kinds. This is where most tourists flock to explore if they can find something of their choice and price... and most do. It's located in Nassau Downtown and quite close to (an easy walk from) the cruise terminal.
Photo: Roger W, flickr cc by-sa 2.0
This is a large shopping mall housed in a prominent orange-yellow-white building that reflects the traditional Bahamian style of architecture. It's located just outside the entrance to the Prince George cruise port in downtown Nassau. The colorful design of the building along with a plethora of shops selling all kinds of goods including art and craft, gifts and souvenir items, edibles etc make an attractive setting where you will likely spend some good amount of time looking for your purchases.
Being close to the cruise port, the prices are higher compared to shops elsewhere, however the quality of the goods are also of high standards. There are some 45 shops and artisan booths here. The walkways inside are named after the towns and islands in The Bahamas. Several well known artists and artisans in the island have their outlets in Festive Place. Souvenir and gift items such as straw bags and dolls that you get here are of much better quality than the Straw Market, but they are costlier here.
Photo: byvalet, Shutterstock
The Welcome Center is the perfect place to buy some authentic handmade Bahamian craft or souvenir items. There is a full scale Post Office inside selling Bahamian stamps and offering both registered and high speed mailing services.
There is also a Tourism Office inside where you can get information about the various attractions across the islands of the Bahamas, as well as about land and water based tours. You can also get information about taxi and scooter rentals, ferry service etc. A communication center here offers pay phones, calling cards, fax service etc. There is a booth here that offers hair braiding as well.
As you stroll around or wait for the finishing touches on your ordered craft or painting, you can enjoy a cup of perfect Bahamian blended tea here or savor some of the traditional Bahamian sweets such as coconut and pineapple tarts. On certain days of the week (usually Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays), live Bahamian performances take place at the indoor square and you can dance to the live music. Some times Junkanoo dancers come here and perform and also chat with the tourists.
Festival Place is open on all days although the timings vary depending on when the cruise ships are on port. General open hours: Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday from 8:00am to 8:00pm; Wednesday and Sunday from 9:00am to 2:00pm; and Thursday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
Located by the Atlantis marina in Paradise island, this is a wonderful open air Caribbean style shopping village housing over 30 quaint retail stores selling clothes, perfumes, jewelry, accessories, straw bags and hats, art and craft etc in addition to several restaurants, food and beverage outlets and retail carts. A wonderful place to wander around at leisure, enjoy the atmosphere and purchase souvenirs and gifts.
Marina Village, Paradise Island
Photo: User: (WT-shared) Jpatokal at wts wikivoyage, cc by-sa 4.0
If you love chocolates then this is the place you must visit. They are undoubtedly the best chocolate makers in Bahamas and their brand is well known. It's a short uphill walk from downtown Nassau and located in the historic Graycliff Hotel. The hotel was established in 1977. In 2012 they added the chocolate factory in the premises.
Other than sampling and buying chocolates of different types, you can take a factory tour (there are guided tours available at per person cost). You will experience how cocoa beans are eventually turned into chocolate bars and at the end make a chocolate bar yourself, then eat it too. There is also an adult only tour to see and learn how chocolate is paired with wine in some specialized products.
In the chocolate factory shop you can see and purchase different kinds of chocolate bars, chocolate that look like cigars, bonbons that come in various flavors and more. The white cigar like chocolates are really nice. NOTE: Graycliff in fact has a cigar making factory as well in the premises and you can take a tour of that too and experience cigar rolling.
There are several types of tours. 'The Art of Chocolate Interactive Tour' is usually available on Monday to Saturday at 9am or Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 3pm. Tour duration is 1 hour and the factory is air conditioned, so it's a comfortable tour. There are other tours as well.
There is another popular tour which pairs chocolate tasting along with spirit tasting at Graycliff. You can check details, rates and book the tour through this Viator Website Page
Address: West Hill Street, Nassau, Bahamas
Looking for diamonds, gems, pearls or exclusive watches? Then this is arguably the best store in the island. The sales representatives are very well trained, friendly and not pushy at all. While the price range can be wide depending on what you want (anything between $1,000 to $250,000).
You can actually spell out your budget and they will try their best to give you the best value for money. More over this is a duty free store. They have wide range of designs in rings, earrings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, charms, watches etc. They also have in stock several other well known jewelry designers such as John Hardy, Roberto Coin.
324 Bay Street, Nassau. Phone: +1 242-323-4054
If you love delicately handmade items such as soaps, candles and spa products which not only can serve as great gifts but also for self use, then this is a quality shop which you should visit. The store is located on Bay Street in Prince George Plaza. As you enter the store you will be charmed by its pleasant look and fresh herbal scent.
Items come in various shapes, sizes and themes, for example in soaps you get summertime soaps, wild flamingo soaps, blue hole soaps, bush soaps etc, in candles and ceramics there are similar variations, in spa products you get items such as bath salt, natural sea sponges for face and body use, hand and body lotions etc.
If you like ceramics, take a look at the fish dish and baby soap scroll. They also have gift packs. The staff there are very friendly and courteous, and will help you find what you want at your price. If you like the products you can also order them online through their website (myocean.com).
My Ocean Ltd., Prince George Shopping Plaza, Bay Street, Slot #622, Nassau, Bahamas.
Open Hours: Monday - Saturday: 9:30am – 5:30pm; Sunday: 8:30am - 4:00pm
Blanc Du Nil
The store offers men's and women's clothes made with pre-shrunk 100% organic cotton, linen etc. Great place to look for men's T-shirts. You get wonderful white clothes here as well as all types of men's and women's wears including trousers, skirts, tops, dresses etc of different types and sizes, and at quite reasonable prices. The staff are quite helpful too.
Photo: Güldem Üstün, cc by 2.0
Bay Street, Nassau, New Providence
Phone: (242) 325-5717
In operation since 1929, they have been a premier retailer in Bahamas when it comes to luxury items such as Leather, Perfume and Cosmetics, Jewelry, Watches and Cosmetics. They have several outlets across Bahamas, the main store is on Bay Street, Nassau.
In Timepieces you will find brands like Breitling, Cartier, Chanel, Citizen, Fossil, David Yurman, Gucci, Omega, Rolex, Rado and lot more. In fact they are the only official and exclusive retailer of Rolex in Bahamas. In leather and accessories you can get brands like Gucci, Cross etc. And there are fragrances and cosmetics from a line of well known brands such as Chanel, Gucci, Lacoste, Davidoff, Clinique etc.
284 Bay Street, Nassau, New Providence
Tag Heuer Boutique
If you do not have mental fixation on makes like Omega and like to still buy an excellent quality sports or elegant watch at a reasonable price (although these are mostly high-end watches), then visit this store on Bay Street, Nassau. They have a great collection and selection of watches here.
Here are some great collections: Tag Heuer Carrera, AquaRacer, Monaco, Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45, Formula 1, Link etc. And there are lot more in stock such as... Chronograph watches, Heritage Monza, Diver Watches, Sport Watches etc. And what more, you can expect to get one at a price cheaper than what you may get in UK or the US. There is hardly any room to bargain here though, although they will try to do their best on pricing if you ask for it.
The salesmen there are experts and very knowledgeable yet not pushy. Just go and tell them your price range and they will show you ones that you are bound to like.
324 Bay Street, Nassau. Phone: +1 242-322-8389.
This is another great place for branded watches of all types as well as fine and fashion jewelry. In watches you get more that 25 different brands here including Omega, Rolex, Breitling, Rado, Tag Heuer etc. In jewelry (which includes diamonds and gold) you can look for brands such as John Hardy, Avance, Alex and Ani, Caribbean Bracelet, Swarovski etc as well as of their own.
While items are no way cheap and can range into several thousands of dollars, you do get few such as exquisite rings in few hundred dollars as well. If you are kind to go for brand shopping as you compare different makes in watches and jewelry, then this is a great store to visit. The staff are well versed with the products, patient and very helpful. If you ask, they can also reduce prices in some products.
Located on Bay Street (at Bay Street and George Street junction), Nassau.
Open Hours: 9:30am to 5:30pm (Monday - Saturday); 9:30am to 2pm (Sunday).
Bahama Art and Handicraft
A great place to pick up authentic handmade Bahamian paintings, wood carvings, jewelry etc. You can find items made of sea glass and shells, straw, hand paintings, mosaics, jewelry, ceramics, mirrors, wood carvings, books and even crafts such as pens, furniture, driftwood framing etc. You get items of different price ranges to suite all budgets and many of them can serve as excellent gifts and souvenirs. The lady owner is very friendly and compassionate. You can spend hours appreciating local art and craft.
East Shirley Street, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas.
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 9am - 4:30pm
The Bahamas Rum Cake Factory
Even if you do not like rum, you should still visit this small shop in downtown Nassau to figure out how rum cakes can be made to perfection. You will know as they offer free samples and then you won't be able to resist from buying them.
They are undoubtedly the best rum cake makers in Nassau, if not in the whole of Bahamas. Opened since 2000, their moist and delicious rum cakes are available all across Bahamas. The rum cakes come in 8 different flavors such as pineapple, chocolate, amaretto, coconut, pina colada, cinnamon etc, however the original rum cake with pecans is something special. And the cakes come in different sizes.
Ole Nassau Rum - the most well known rum of Bahamas is used in making these cakes but the flavors are never that strong. They are all vacuum sealed so that they can last for long. From the US, you can also order the cakes online through their website (thebahamasrumcakefactory.com).
602 East Bay Street, Nassau, Bahamas.
Hours: 10am to 5pm (Monday - Saturday), 10am to 3pm (Sunday)
Nestled in a lush garden setting, this is a historic property where some 40 Bahamian artists display their exquisite art and craft work by turn. The displays are so unique that you can almost never see the same things again when you visit next time. The art gallery was created by the famous Junkanoo artist late Jackson Burnside and his wife Pam in 1970s.
As you walk along the stone pathways you can see Bahamian sculptures... the displays are spread out in quaint buildings and many of them are available for sale. Browse through the intricately handmade sculptures and paintings, the straw made items, masks, goatskin drums, jewelry items and even decorative items that are so uniquely Bahamian. This is an excellent place to visit if you love art and craft.
On Saturdays a farmers' market sets up here... the locals offer vegetables, plants, art and craft, jewelry and lot more ... and all locally handmade.
Coin of the Realm
This wonderful quaint building dates back to 1700 when it was used as a magazine for gunpowder. The entrance to the building is made of limestone which have been cut out from the hills nearby. Inside you can still see the ceiling made of original red bricks.
This is a family business running for more than 35 years. They specialize in exquisite and precious jewelry, charms, watches etc from great brands from all over the world. However they are best known for two things - Conch Pearls, and as the store name suggests... Treasure Coins
Note that conch pearls are rare and can not be cultured. Only one can be found from thousands of conches collected by the locals from Bahamian waters and they look bright pink in color and some brown. Cultured pearls of different types and sizes are also available. They also have rare collections of coins from Bahamas, Greece and Rome, some dating back to 4th Century BC.
The pearls and coins are made into beautiful pendants and there are convertible (i.e. interchangeable) necklaces so that you can fit in different pendants with a necklace ... very smart I thought. The silver Bahamian coins start from $55 while the gold ones start from $595, the Spanish gold coins are much costlier though (start from around $1800).
They are located in Nassau and only a block behind Bay Street.
Coin of the Realm, Charlotte Street, Nassau, Bahamas.
Hours: Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
The Plait Lady
Located at Marina Village in Paradise Island, you can find exquisite handmade straw work here. Although the Straw Market in Nassau is where most tourists flock to looking for traditional Bahamian straw products, unfortunately the Straw Market over time has become a jungle of stuffs sourced from China and other cheap markets and the erstwhile tradition of handcrafted straw items have somewhat taken a back seat.
However if straw items such as wonderful bags, purses, hats etc are of interest to you that have been hand plaited by local Bahamians, visit Plait Lady... they can serve as excellent souvenir and gifts that are truly local of Bahamas. Apart from straw products, the store also keeps items such as bowls, spoons etc that are hand crafted from conch shells collected from Bahamas waters.
The Plait Lady, Marina Village at Atlantis, Paradise Island
Phone: (242) 363-1416; Open: 9am to 10pm daily.
This is one of the original duty free stores in Nassau and located on Bay Street (right next to Diamond International). They sell watches, leather goods, porcelain items, products made of stainless steel, as well as fine jewelry made with diamonds, rubies and other colorful gemstones. For watches you can look for brands such as Anne Klein, Armitron, Guess, Nautica, Phillipe, Charriol, Skagen etc. In jewelry they keep brands such as Majoria, Gabriel & Co. and Candela. However there are some collections that are mindblowing... Lladro porcelain figures and Kalifano’s life-sized globes made with gemstones.
324 Bay Street, Nassau, New Providence
Colombian Emeralds International Bahamas
A great place to look for jewelry items such as rings, bracelets, necklace, earrings, pendants etc that are intricately made with emeralds, diamonds, sapphire, tanzanite, colored gemstones, pearls and even sterling silver. They also sell watches (exclusive seller of Jaeger-LeCoultre). Colombian Emeralds has outlets in several islands of Bahamas including in Nassau. The staff are all well trained and will guide you patiently. You can ask for price discounts and they are known to oblige the customers.
Location: One of their outlets is located on Bay Street (opposite Straw Market), Nassau
Phone: (242) 322-2230
Elizabeth On Bay Marketplace and Marina
A shopping area located at downtown Nassau has 16 retail stores selling products of various kinds, a cafe at the courtyard, couple of waterfront restaurants etc. A good place to explore for a while.
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