The Bahamas is not only an island paradise but also a shopaholic’s dream getaway. While it certainly is the norm to buy souvenir items during your vacation, shopping here is not just about finding memorabilia to take home with you. It’s also about discovering great, rare finds as well as buying branded luxury items at really affordable prices. Of course, like the most worthwhile things in life, shopping in the Bahamas is not something you should go into unprepared. Thus, we’ve come up with some tips to help you have the best time weaving in and out of the stores and markets on the islands.
Bargaining in Bahamas
Shopping in Nassau Bahamas can be budget-friendly and fun, if you know where you can find the best deals. The Straw Market in Nassau is one of the places in the Bahamas where you can buy items at a bargain price. It’s essentially a large flea market where you can find straw baskets, hats, mats, and anything made of straw materials. You can also find jewelry, wrap skirts, photo albums, glasses, T-shirts, and even some imported luxury items. Guava jelly and other homemade goods can also be purchased here. There are more than 500 merchants in this area, so you have a wide array of choices when it comes to finding the best priced items.
Now, while bargaining is not a typical Bahamas local custom, shopping in Nassau Bahamas’ Straw Market is always open to negotiation. The same is true when shopping on Grand Bahama Island as well. The very first thing you need to know is that you shouldn’t go for the first asking price. Instead, offer a little bit less than what you are willing to pay and let the haggling start that way. Also, if you can’t reach an agreement on the price, just walk away. There will be more stalls within the market offering the same item. Some Bahamas local vendors may be more willing to sell it to you at your asking price.
You may be surprised to find several branded items being sold in the Straw Market such as Chanel bags. Now, some of these will probably be fakes while others would be the genuine thing. So, it’s best to first carefully look over whatever item you are thinking of buying before you even begin to bargain the price.
Upscale shopping can be found along Bay Street in Nassau and in Freeport. Generally, one cannot ask for a bargain in stores outside the market. But there have been times when tourists have been able to ask for a reduced price on items. The best way to find out is to ask for tips from the hotel staff as well as just ask the store’s staff. The worst thing that could happen is that they refuse to give you the discount.
Other Bahamas Shopping Tips
When shopping in the Bahamas, especially in any of the straw markets, you should always carry some cash with you. The stall vendors usually don’t accept credit cards or traveller’s checks.
The best buys in the Bahamas are gems, leather goods, watches, emeralds, cigar, liquor, and gold. While some of their prices are certainly not cheap, you’ll be hard-pressed to find these items offered at lower prices anywhere else. Plus, there are no sales taxes attached to any of the items which will certainly add up to your savings. In fact, Nassau, Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, and Paradise Island are known for the best duty free shopping; you can save as much as 50% off on some items.
While you can enjoy duty free shopping in the Bahamas, you need to be aware that you will be charged a $15 flat rate for departure tax before you leave the country. For US citizens, purchasing more than $200 worth of items will make them taxable once you stepped back into the US.
One last piece of advice we’d like to hand out regarding Bahamas shopping is to just make sure you have fun. After all, that’s why you’re in the Bahamas in the first place.