Shopping options vary in the BVI, from locally made to some high-end options, though not as flashy as the jewellery and tourist shops in nearby Saint Thomas or Saint Martin. With rare exceptions, international chains of shops are banned by law in the BVI to protect local character; however, there are some shops like Little Switzerland which are hugely popular with Caribbean visitors for the beautiful high-end wares.
The main shopping area on Tortola is Wickham’s Cay in Road Town. Main Street is a small, winding road leading from the Governor’s House, past the old Post Office to the Botanic Gardens. The shops on this road are housed in small, West Indian houses and often painted in bright colours, notably Serendipity Bookshop, perhaps the brightest of them all, which has a good collection of Caribbean history and cook books (and now has an internet cafe upstairs). Notable shops include Pussers, a store, popular bar and restaurant (and home of the infamous Painkiller drink!), Sunny Caribbee selling spices and handmade items, and Latitude 18 which sells casual beach clothes. Next to the historic post office is Amethyst, selling imported African and Indian items, Samarkand jewellery shop and across the road, Kaunda’s, where you can find Caribbean music.
Additionally, near the cruise ship dock is a branch of Columbian Emeralds jewellery store and opposite it, the Craft Market which despite its name sells mostly T-shirts and jewellery, clothes and other goods. Island crafts genuinely made in the BVI include crocheted items, straw hats, rum and guavaberry liqueur, and can be found in the craft market. Not to be missed are the small bakeries selling local delicacies like Johnny cakes, roti, fish soup and coconut bread.
On the rest of the island there are a number of pharmacies, supermarkets, variety stores and jewellery shops. Shoprite in East End and OneMart in Purcell offer good variety of food at better prices than in Road Town although Bobby’s supermarket in Road Town, Cane Garden Bay and Nanny Cay has good prices and is open till midnight 364 days a year (closed Good Friday). There is no need to find a speciality liquor outlet if you simply want a couple of bottles of wine, beer or rum as supermarket prices are excellent, rum is from $3 a bottle. Alcohol is very cheap in the BVI as there is not special taxes or duties on alcoholic beverages. If you are buying quantity or looking for speciality rums, Tico is an excellent store.
On Beef Island, near the airport, is the pretty Trellis Bay, which offers a selection of cafes, tourist shops and a supermarket. Both the Loose Mongoose beach cafe and the Last Resort restaurant on its very own miniature island are worth trying.
Shopping on Anegada is limited to basic necessities plus two gift shops at the hotel and camp ground. Similarly, on Jost van Dyke there are a few gift shops but mostly beach bars and places to laze the day away in a hammock, taking in paradise. Virgin Gorda has a supermarket in the marina and gift shops in the resorts.