The U.S. Virgin Islands are rightly known as a shopping mecca: hundreds of merchants cater to a captive audience of cruise ship passengers, resort guests and boat enthusiasts. Add to that a generous $1600 duty-free allowance and no sales tax, you've got a shopaholic's paradise. But prices on most items aren't especially cheap – don't forget that everything has to be shipped or flown in, which adds to the bottom line. This doesn't deter avid shoppers though, who come for the duty-free booze, cigarettes and jewels above all. The greatest concentration of such shops are found in Christiansted on St. Croix, and in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. The Virgin Islands are also known as a great place to buy crafts, jewelry, and unique gift items. Funky boutiques on all three islands stock everything from African musical instruments to historical maps to hand-crafted jewelry and ceramics. Name-brand chain stores are not too prevalent here, but if you want to splurge on a designer bag or dress, you'll find Gucci, Bulgari, Coach and a few others.
Karen worked for several years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor before becoming a travel writer. She worked for renowned travel expert Peter Greenberg before going freelance, and now edits a website about African travel. Over the last two decades Karen has visited 129 cities in 30 countries and lived in the UK and South Africa. Highlights of her travels... Read More