St. Thomas: The Caribbean Capital of Duty Free Buys

St. Thomas has a long history of trading and commerce, dating back to colonial times and the Danish West India Company. It upholds today a long tradition as one of the Caribbean’s first duty free ports since 1724. Here buyers find bargains on all manner of luxury items, but mostly jewelry. Most stores target cruise ship passengers that come for the day to shop for diamonds, liquor, perfume, watches, cameras, porcelain and leather goods.

They head first to Havensight Mall, directly adjacent to the cruise ship port and filled with duty free shops. It is a short trip to downtown Charlotte Amalie, where jewelry stores line Main Street. Shoppers can find one of a kind shops and galleries, however, in the alleys and side streets off Main Street and along the waterfront. For an even nicer, more extensive selection of local art and other unique buys, head to Cruz Bay, a short ferry ride away on the island of St. John.

This list compiles the best shopping centers of St. Thomas, plus some select galleries and stores that stand out from the usual brand of jewelry mart. The wise shopper will have done some homework before setting out on the streets of St. Thomas. Compare shop online and at other stores to make sure that a duty free buy truly is a bargain. Because remember, St. Thomas’ heritage also has a few pirates in its closet. 

Mountain Top
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


High atop St. Peter Mountain sits "the island's largest gift shop," restaurant, bar and observation point with sweeping views of the British Virgin islands. Among the massive inventory you'll find an extensive collection of both fine and costume...  Read More

Native Arts and Crafts Cooperative
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Find the work of more than 150 artisans gathered under one roof at this arts and crafts gallery. The goods are constantly changing as the craftspeople create new designs, but popular offerings include hand-carved calabash bowls, spice racks made...  Read More

Tillett Gardens


Silk-screen artist Jim Tillett and his wife founded Tillett Gardens in 1959 as a screen printing studio and art gallery. Since then it has expanded into a wide- ranging arts and crafts center where local artists and craftsmen make and sell...  Read More

Camille Pissarro Gallery


Camille Pissarro, one of the most famous impressionist painters of the 19th century, was born in St. Thomas in 1830. The island inspired much of his painting. The building at 14 Main Street, which is now home to his namesake gallery, once housed...  Read More

Vendors Plaza


Vendors Plaza is an outdoor marketplace next to Fort Christian and the Legislature building, just at the edge of downtown Charlotte Amalie. Local vendors set up tents and booths to sell an assortment of hats, knockoff designer bags, inexpensive...  Read More

Mango Tango Art Gallery
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Just outside the hustle and bustle of Charlotte Amalie, this popular, long-standing gallery sells works by local and internationally recognized artists who spend all or part of their time in the Caribbean. In addition to paintings, sculpture and...  Read More

Cruz Bay
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


A short ferry ride from either downtown Charlotte Amalie or the island's east end at Red Hook gets you to the docks of St. John, conveniently located in the midst of the island's main town of Cruz Bay, nicknamed the "Love City." Shoppers...  Read More

Havensight Mall
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


This mall greets cruise ship passengers who disembark at the West Indian Company dock and is one of the major shopping areas on the island (besides downtown). It encompasses more than 100 duty free and souvenir shops, plus various service...  Read More

Charlotte Amalie
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Main Street and the waterfront of downtown Charlotte Amalie offer an impressive array of shops catering to cruise ship passengers and resort guests. Everything from an antique store that carries recovered booty to liquor emporiums to chocolate...  Read More

Yacht Haven Grande
Photo courtesy of Karen Elowitt


Yacht Haven Grande is an upscale waterfront development that includes a luxury yacht marina, residential condos, restaurants and more than 40 high-end shopping boutiques. You will find lots of pricey designer brands represented here, including...  Read More


Meet Chelle Koster Walton

Chelle Koster Walton – the Local Expert for Naples, Florida and the Caribbean – has been covering the destination for 30 years. Her top-selling Sarasota, Sanibel Island, and...  More About Chelle