If you’re looking for retail therapy in between the sand and surf, hit the stores on St. John. While it may be the smallest of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John is home to a thriving shopping scene. From the bustling retail storefronts around Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay to Coral Bay’s laidback atmosphere, visitors will find quality handcrafted goods such as clothing, jewelry and home décor. Best of all, it is duty-free shopping across the entire island with no sales tax.
Shop Until You Drop in Cruz Bay
Located along North Shore Road, Mongoose Junction is a shopping hub that immediately attracts the eye. This thriving retail space is a beautiful piece of art in and of itself, featuring lush tropical trees, breathtaking stone walls, shaded courtyards, and charming cobblestone pathways. The shops sell fascinating locally-inspired items such as handmade pottery, paintings, jewelry, woven baskets, and even hand-painted clothing. In addition, people come here for great deals on beautiful gold earrings and necklaces and to pick up unique souvenirs such as vibrant fish kites or hand-painted plates.
Bamboula boutique invites a relaxed shopping experience as the rhythmic beats of island music set the mood. Known for its handcrafted bowls and Caribbean-inspired clothing, the store is home to exotic finds from not only the islands but Africa and Indonesia. It’s not unheard of to spend hours browsing the ever-changing inventory of Haitian art, musical instruments, clothing, and home décor items such as wood platters and goblets.
Just across the way from Bamboula, walk into a beach-inspired oasis at Portico. They offer an array of island-inspired clothing, rugs, bedding, tabletops, barware, and home décor. The shop is designed to replicate various rooms throughout a home, so it’s easy to see how these goods would look in your space.
For an immersive shopping experience that caters to all five senses, the Bajo El Sol Gallery & Art Bar is equal parts art gallery, bookstore, and cocktail bar that hosts artist talks and live poetry readings. Just a 5-minute walk up North Shore Road from the ferry dock, indulge in a tasty rum drink as the eyes wander along the many fantastic locally sourced finds that beg you for a closer look.
Made in St. John doesn’t split hairs when describing what’s inside. It’s one of the best shops on the island for locally designed apparel and wares. Whether it be an island-style shirt or a koozie for an island drink, it’s all about authenticity here. After you’ve browsed, stop by St. John Scoops for some ice cream – the perfect way to recharge for more shopping adventures.
The St. John Experience is a unique art gallery specializing in all shapes and sizes of metal prints. Marvel at stunning original photography featuring aerial views of the island, local wildlife and spectacular sunsets, from 8×10 sizes to massive wall-sized prints.
Wharfside Village is a quaint little area of shops right off the water in Cruz Bay, just a short walk from the ferry. Continue your shopping spree at Pink Papaya. This Caribbean-style gallery has an unmistakable pink and yellow storefront just two blocks from the water. The shop sells unique jewelry and one-of-a-kind gifts. It’s also home to the island’s largest selection of tableware and ceramics.
St. John’s Spice Company’s award-winning products are a great way to bring the flavor of the island home. This isn’t just a general store; it’s a destination with a fantastic array of spices, rubs, hot sauces, jellies, jams, and more. This is one of the first places you’ll spot off the ferry dock on Prince Street, on the second floor. With other souvenirs such as Caribbean rum balls, candles, and t-shirts, it’s a one-stop shop.
Are you looking to upgrade your style? Next door is Turquoise Turtle Boutique, a beachy boutique featuring apparel such as swimsuits and sundresses, all with an island flair. They also sell colorful beach totes.
Now that you’ve snagged a new beach outfit, it’s time to pair it with some accessories at Krogu. Derived from the Old Slavic term meaning “a band around a finger,” Kro-gū sells spectacular jewelry featuring free-form, almost sculpture-like designs. Every piece is crafted by local silversmithing artists, from earrings to rings featuring jewels such as pink topaz.
Let’s change up the pace and head to Prince Street, where Fantasia Gift Shop attracts visitors with its kitschy vibe. One of the more popular stops on the island, this shop is perfect for Caribbean souvenirs, custom cards and other knick-knacks.
Cruz Bay Clothing Company is where you shop when the situation calls for high-quality resort wear. Think flowing dresses that will take you from the beach to dinner with only a change of accessories. Or lightweight shirts with a stylish design for men. Need a hat, new pair of shorts or a bathing suit? Cruz Bay Clothing Company will have you exploring St. John in style.
After you’ve upgraded your look, it’s time to check out the Donald Schnell Studio. This ceramics gallery is also a workshop where patrons can watch the artisans hone their craft, from lighting to ceramic tableware. However, it is the pottery dinnerware that takes center stage, where coral sand and melted glass mix seamlessly to mimic the colors and textures of the Caribbean.
A Change of Pace in Coral Bay
On the island’s east side, the quirky and quiet Coral Bay offers a change of pace from the North Side. Here, you’ll find an irresistible assortment of shops selling locally made wares. Also, don’t be alarmed if you see roaming goats and donkeys; these pets are pretty friendly (but don’t pet them, they belong to the island’s residents).
The Cocaloba Shopping Center is a small plaza of shops featuring t-shirts, souvenirs, and jewelry, with plenty of eateries nearby to fit the occasion. Head to Aqua Bistro for lunch, browse the shops, then stop at Salty Mongoose Pizza & Rum Bar for a mid-afternoon snack or libation. Lilly’s Gourmet grocery store is the place to load up on delectables for later. Alternatively, Wok on the Beach on the waterfront is perfect for either dine-in or takeout and features a menu of Pan-Asian tapas and handcrafted cocktails.
A few paces up the street from Cocaloba is Isola Shoppes, a charming collection of stores featuring Jolly Dog, a t-shirt shop with quality island wearables, including hoodies, board shorts, sandals, sunglasses, and more. Zemi Island Designs is the sister store to Jolly Dog and pairs its casual beach wear with exotic jewelry. Unique design and quality craftsmanship go into each piece with locally made hook bracelets, Larimar jewelry, south sea pearls, wreck coins, gemstones, and petroglyph jewelry.