The Ultimate Guide to Shopping in Bermuda
Holidays to Bermuda make for the perfect opportunity to purchase some very unique products and souvenirs produced on the island.
While I've never actually tested out the theory of "shop ‘til you drop", I have to admit, whenever I come to Bermuda I give it a good try! It's not, as some people think, because everything is cheaper due to the absence of sales tax (more about that in a minute) - it's because, alongside the luxury international branded items, there's such a wonderful and eclectic selection of locally made arts, crafts, fashions and collectibles.
The Truth About the Tax
First things first, let's clear up the 'tax-free' misnomer. There is, indeed, no sales tax added to items, however there is an import duty applied to any goods that come from outside the island - which is the majority of luxury items. So, while you won't find any tax-free benefits on big name watches and jewellery, holidays to Bermuda make for the perfect opportunity to purchase some very unique products and souvenirs.
The Unique Products of Bermuda
It could be the weather, it could be the wonderfully laidback lifestyle, or it could just be that the Bermudians are a very talented lot – but whatever the reason, the island certainly has more than its fair share of high quality local products.
Cedar products: You'll see the beautiful cedar trees everywhere around the island. Its timber makes for some very beautiful hand carved products, including sculptures, book ends, trays, picture frames and even coffee mugs.
Perfume: Alongside the Chanel, Dior and Estée Lauder fragrances you'll find some lovely locally produced scents. Companies like Bermuda Perfumery and Bermuda Blue Perfume create delicate scents inspired by the unique ambience and landscape of the island.
Glass works: I always find watching glass-blowers a real thrill, and when the finished products are as beautiful as the ones I've found here it's even more satisfying. Some very talented local artists produce not only traditional drinking vessels and plates, but also delicate figurines of the local flora and fauna.
Fashion: Where else would you get a pair of Bermudan shorts if not here? Even if you only wear them for the duration of your holiday, get into the spirit and pick yourself up a pair of locally made shorts. They're regulation dress code in many establishments – even at cocktail hour!
Rum products: The island is well renowned for its love of rum, so it would be remiss not to pick up a few souvenirs for the folks back home. Goslings Black Seal Rum has been produced on the island since the early 1800s and you can buy it in its liquid form, or double the decadence in the delicious traditional rum cakes. Beware: Goslings has a real kick.
Jewellery: For both men and women, the island's artisan jewellers produce some of the most unique and beautiful jewellery I've ever seen. As well as sterling silver pieces using the delicate local pink sands, keep an eye out for the silver 'moongate' charms and pendants. Moongates are a traditional symbol of good luck, for those who pass under them, and these miniature replicas make for a striking piece of jewellery.
My personal favourite (and I've been tempted on several occasions for gifts) are pieces based on the Longtail, a bird that comes home to nest around the coastline of the island in summer. This lovely white tailed bird is the exquisite model for the silver and gold charms produced by some local jewellers.
Where to Shop
Hamilton City is a popular base for holidays to Bermuda and it's also the main shopping area. As well as the shops, boutiques and markets in Hamilton, you'll find some great retail outlets in the Clocktower Mall (at Royal Naval Dockyard) and Somer's wharf in St George's Town.
Standard opening hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday. Most shops are closed on Sunday, with the exception of Clocktower Mall.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury holidays to Bermuda, Croatia, Sicily and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.