Most of Antigua's shops are clustered on St. Mary's Street or High Street in St. John's. Some stores are open Monday to Saturday from 8:30am to noon and 1 to 4pm, but this varies greatly from place to place -- Antiguan shopkeepers are an independent lot. Many of them close at noon on Thursday.
Duty-free items include English woolens and linens. You can also purchase Antiguan goods: local pottery, straw work, rum, floppy foldable hats, shell curios, and hand-printed fabrics.
If you're in St. John's on a Saturday morning, visit the fruit and vegetable market at the south end of Market Street. The juicy Antiguan black pineapple alone is worth the trip.
One prime hunting ground in St. John's is the Redcliffe Quay waterfront on the southern edge of town, where nearly three dozen boutiques are housed in former warehouses set around tree-shaded, landscaped courtyards. Our favorite is A Thousand Flowers (tel. 268/462-4264), which sells linens, all-natural fiber, rayon, and other fabrics.
At the Gazebo (tel. 268/460-2776), expect a little bit of everything, from a mass of south-of-the-border pottery to Indonesian wood items, and (our favorite) stunning blue-glaze plates. Additional Redcliffe Quay shops include Isis (tel. 268/462-4602) for unique Egyptian jewelry, cotton gowns, handicrafts, inlaid marquetry work, and Afghan jewelry. It's often worth checking out the Goldsmitty (tel. 268/462-4601; www.goldsmitty.com), where precious stones are set in unique, exquisite creations of 14- and 18-karat gold.
Noreen Phillips, Redcliffe Quay (tel. 268/462-3127; www.noreenphillips.com), an entity entirely based in Antigua, is one of the island's major fashion outlets. Cruise-ship passengers beeline here for both casual wear and beaded glitzy dress clothes. Exotic Antigua, Radcliffe Quay, St. Mary's Street (tel. 268/562-1288), specializes in Caribbean-made gifts and clothing, including T-shirts and casual wear, and handicrafts.
At Lipstick, Heritage Quay (tel. 268/562-1133), you can browse a daunting array of cosmetics and perfumes, some of them locally made, many of the others imported from the U.S., Britain, and France. Shoul's Chief Store, St. Mary's Street at Market Street (tel. 268/462-1140), is an all-purpose department store selling fabric, appliances, souvenirs (more than 300 kinds), and general merchandise.
Heritage Quay, Antigua's premier shopping-and-entertainment complex, is a well-maintained neighborhood close to the cruise-ship piers that features some 40 duty-free shops and an arcade for local artists and artisans. Its restaurants and food court offer a range of cuisines and views of St. John's Harbour. Many shops are open all day, at least from 9am to 5:30pm Monday to Saturday, and later, including on Sunday, if there's a cruise ship in port.
Tucked away within Heritage Quay are a number of shops. The Camera Shop (tel. 268/462-3619), a Kodak distributor and photofinisher, sells sunglasses, film, and brand-name cameras. Fashiondock (tel. 268/462-9672) is known for its duty-free Prada, Moschino, and Gucci accessories, plus other Italian styles. Sunseekers (tel. 268/462-4523) carries the largest collection of duty-free swimwear in the Caribbean. Colombian Emeralds (tel. 268/462-3462) is the world's biggest retailer of these gemstones. Abbott's Jewelry (tel. 268/462-3107) sells the best selection of watches on Antigua, plus china and crystal. Nick Maley, a makeup artist who worked on Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, founded Island Arts, upstairs at Heritage Quay (tel. 268/462-2787). You can purchase his own fine-art reproductions or browse through everything from low-cost prints to works by artists exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Rain Boutique, Lower St. Mary's (tel. 268/462-0118), sells casual clothes, formal wear, hats, scarves, shoes, jewelry, and handbags.
At Falmouth Harbour, Seahorse Studios & Gift Shop (tel. 268/460-1457) specializes in batiks, T-shirts, signs, and table linens. Its affiliated branch at English Harbour, Seahorse Art Gallery (tel. 268/460-1457), sells paintings, engravings, and watercolors, with lots of emphasis on seascapes.
The best for last: Head for Harmony Hall, in Brown's Bay Mill, near Freetown (tel. 268/460-4120), following the signs along the road to Freetown and Half Moon Bay. This restored 1843 plantation house and sugar mill overlooking Nonsuch Bay is ideal for a lunch stopover, a shopping expedition, even an overnight. It displays an excellent selection of Caribbean arts and crafts. Lunch is served daily from noon to 3:30pm, featuring Green Island lobster, flying fish, and other specialties. Sunday is barbecue day.
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.