Most of the shopping on Ambergris Caye is typical tourist fare. You'll see tons of T-shirts and tank tops, with dive logos and silk-screen prints of the Blue Hole. Beyond this, the best buy on the island is handmade jewelry sold by local Belizean artisans from makeshift display stands along Barrier Reef Drive. I'd be wary of black coral jewelry, though. Black coral is extremely beautiful, but as with every endangered resource, increased demand just leads to increased harvesting of a slow-growing coral.
Inside Fido's Courtyard at Belizean Arts (tel. 226-3019; www.belizeanarts.com), you'll find the island's best collection of original paintings and crafts. Of special note are the prints and paintings of co-owner Walter Castillo, a Nicaraguan-born artist whose simple, but bold, style captures the Caribbean color and rhythm of Belize.
Another shop at Fido's Courtyard worth checking out is Ambar (tel. 226-3101). The owner and artisan here sells handmade jewelry, with a specialty in amber. The stuff here is a significant cut above the wares you'll find in most other souvenir shops and street stands.
You can find some interesting locally made casual wear at Isla Bonita Designs, North Barrier Reef Drive (tel. 226-4258; www.islabonitadesigns.com).
To get your fill of jade, head to the small Ambergris Maya Jade & History Museum, Barrier Reef Drive (tel. 226-3311), which has a nice collection of jade artifacts and jewelry, and really functions as the draw to get folks into their retail store.
Finally, if you just need some reading material for the beach blanket or hammock, head to Barefoot Books (tel. 226-3563), with a large selection of new and used books, right on Pescador Drive.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.