SHOPPING IN BARBADOS
The quintessential Barbados handicrafts are black-coral jewellery and clay pottery. The latter originates at Highland Pottery, Inc. (tel. 246/422-9818), which is worth a visit. Potters turn out different products, some based on designs that are centuries old. The potteries (which are signposted) are north of Bathsheba on the east coast, in St. Joseph Parish near Barclay's Park. In shops across the island, you'll also find a selection of locally made vases, pots, pottery mugs, glazed plates, and ornaments.
Island craftspeople weave wall hangings from local grasses and dried flowers, and also turn out straw mats, baskets, and bags with raffia embroidery. Leatherwork, particularly handbags, belts, and sandals, is also found on Barbados.
Cruise passengers generally head for the cruise-ship terminal at Bridgetown Harbour, which has some 20 duty-free shops, 13 local shops, and many vendors.
At Articrafts, Norman Center Mall, Broad Street (tel. 246/427-5767), John and Roslyn Watson have assembled an impressive display of Bajan arts and crafts. Roslyn's distinctive wall hangings are decorated with objects from the island, including sea fans and coral. The unique Colours of De Caribbean, the Waterfront Marina (next to the Waterfront CafÃƒÂ©, on the Carenage; tel. 246/436-8522), carries a limited selection of original hand-painted and batik clothing, all made in the West Indies, plus jewellery and decorative objects.
Cave Shepherd, Broad Street (tel. 246/431-2121), is the largest department store on the island and the best place for duty-free merchandise. There are branches at Sunset Crest in Holetown, Da Costas Mall, Grantley Adams Airport, and the Bridgetown cruise-ship terminal, but if your time is limited, try this outlet, as it has the widest selection. The store sells perfumes, cosmetics, fine crystal and bone china, cameras, jewellery, swimwear, leather goods, men's designer clothing, handcrafts, liquor, and souvenirs. You can take a break in the cool comfort of the Balcony, overlooking Broad Street, which serves vegetarian dishes and has a salad bar and beer garden.
Harrison's, 10-14 Broad St. (tel. 246/431-5500), has six branch stores, all selling a wide variety of duty-free merchandise, including china, crystal, jewellery, watches, liquor, and perfumes -- all at fair prices. Also for sale are some fine leather products handcrafted in Colombia.
Little Switzerland, in the Da Costas Mall, Broad Street (tel. 246/431-0030), offers a wide selection of watches, fine jewellery, and an array of goodies from Waterford, Lalique, Swarovski, Baccarat, and others.
Pelican Crafts Centre, Harbour Road (tel. 246/426-4391), is rather an overpriced tourist trap, hawking craft items. In Bridgetown, go down Princess Alice Highway to the city's Deep Water Harbour, where you'll find this tiny colony of thatch-roofed shops. Most of the shops here are gimmicky, but a few interesting items can be found if you search hard enough. Sometimes you can see craftspeople at work.
The Watering Hole, Highway 7, St. Lawrence Gap (tel. 246/435-6375), is not only the best place to purchase bottles of Bajan rum at duty-free prices, but is also a great dive for hanging out. A small bottle of rum (about 6 oz.) sells for around US$7. Some locals as well as savvy visitors come here and make an evening of it, sampling the various rum drinks. Of course, you may need someone to carry you back to your hotel as these punches are lethal. Opening times vary. One of the most interesting shopping jaunts in Barbados is to Tyrol Cot Heritage Village, Codrington Hill, St. Michael (tel. 246/424-2074), the former home of the Bajan national hero, Sir Grantley Adams. On the grounds of the former prime minister's estate is a colony of artisans, who turn out an array of articles for sale ranging from paintings to pottery, from baskets to handmade figurines.
Earthworks Pottery/On the Wall Gallery, Edgehill Heights 2, St. Thomas (tel. 246/425-0223), is one of the artistic highlights of Barbados. Deep in the island's central highlands, Canadian-born Goldie Spieler and her son, David, create whimsical ceramics in the colours of the sea and sky; many are decorated with Antillean-inspired swirls and zigzags. On the premises are a studio and a showroom that sells the output of at least half a dozen other island potters. Purchases can be shipped.
The Shell Gallery "Contentment," Gibbes Hill, St. Peter (tel. 246/422-2593), has the best collection of shells in the West Indies. Also offered are shell jewellery, and local pottery and ceramics.
Greenwich House Antiques, Greenwich Village, Trents Hill, St. James (tel. 246/432-1169), a 25-minute drive from Bridgetown, feels like a genteel private home where the objects for sale seem to have come from the attic of your slightly dotty great aunt. Dozens of objects fill every available inch of display space, including Barbados mahogany furniture.