If you visit paradise and don’t return with at least one Caribbean souvenir, did you even go? Seriously, we’re all for bringing back tokens of your trip that will remind you of your island idyll and also delight the people lucky enough to receive them as gifts.
So what goodies should you make space for in your carry-on?
Whether you want a watercolor landscape, oil portrait or mixed media piece, you’re guaranteed to find a Caribbean artist you’ll love. Our favorite talents include Barbados’ Jill Walker and Jamaica’s Ebony G. Patterson. But you only need go as far as the local craft market or gallery to find something to suit.
For a souvenir that’s fun and functional, you can’t go wrong with ceramic tableware. Victoria Leigh Silvera’s sea urchin-themed collection elegantly combines form and function. And in Barbados, Earthworks is famous for their clay pieces, which come in 24 signature designs.
The Caribbean fashion scene is as colorful and diverse as the region itself. In Grenada, Jessie-Ann Jessamy makes garments from fabrics with silk-screened designs that celebrate the island’s iconic nutmeg. And in the Bahamas, Androsia is famous for their classic batik textiles, which have become the unofficial national fabric.
Beans cultivated in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains are considered among the finest in the world, and because production is so limited, retail for around $60 a pound. But you’ll save significantly when you buy on island, so stock up.
Sweet and savory sauces are the easiest way to take home a taste of the islands. Some of our favorites: Sakaja private-label hot sauce from Da Conch Shack in the Turks and Caicos Islands; cranberry-like sorrel chutney from Jamaica; and St. Lucian banana ketchup.
There’s so much creative talent across the Caribbean that you’ll have plenty of choices. Check out St. Lucian artist Zaka’s vibrant hand-painted totems, made from discarded telephone poles. In Jamaica, snag one of Montego Bay-based Gallery of West Indian Art’s signature spotties, hand-carved wooden figurines painted in vivid colors and stippled with white polka dots.
What does the Caribbean smell like? Regional perfumeries are answering just that question. Two scents to try: Lili Bermuda’s South Water and Parfums Jamaica’s classic, White Witch. And on St. Martin, you can create your own custom essential-oil blend at Tijon Parfumerie.
Shield your skin stylishly with a straw topper such as Martinique’s traditional pointed fisherman’s hat, the bakoua, or the broad-brimmed Guadeloupean salako. Straw not your thing? In Jamaica you can buy a Red Stripe-branded baseball cap with a bottle opener in the brim!
We love all types of jewelry but a silver or gold charm for your bracelet is an enduring and relatively inexpensive memento. You’ll find traditional and Pandora-style island-themed charms at duty-free outlets all across the Caribbean, from Jamaica to Barbados.
Barbados claims to be the birthplace of rum, so honor itsr heritage with a bottle of Mount Gay or Cockspur. Jamaica’s rum-making legacy is also long; toast to it with a take-home tipple of Appleton Estate Reserve Blend.