Compared to St. Thomas, St. John’s shopping isn’t much, but what’s here is interesting. The boutiques and shops of Cruz Bay are individualized and quite special. Most of the shops are clustered at Mongoose Junction (North Shore Rd., Cruz Bay), in a woodsy area beside the roadway, about a 5-minute walk from the ferry dock. Also in Cruz Bay, Wharfside Village (tel 340/693-8210; www.wharfsidevillage.com), just a few steps from the ferry departure point, is a low-rise complex of courtyards, alleys, and seaside cafes with some unique boutiques. The Marketplace of St. John (tel 340/776-6455; http://stjohnmarketplace.com) has St. John’s biggest grocery store (Starfish Market), a pharmacy (Chelsea Drug Store), a hardware store (St. John Hardware), and a sprinkling of retail shops and cafes.
Awl Made Here (tel 340/777-5757; www.awlmadehere.com), the Coral Bay studio of several enterprising island artisans, is owned by leather maker Tracey Keating, who makes handsome hand-tooled leather bags, cuffs, wallets, journals, and more.
Bajo El Sol, Mongoose Junction (tel 340/693-7070; www.bajoelsolgallery.com), is a cooperative gallery begun by a group of St. John artists in 1993. It’s a wonderful place with lots of interesting pieces in a range of mediums, from paintings to glass and metal sculpture to jewelry, photography, and wood turning. This is the place to find a genuine St. John collectible.
Bamboula, Mongoose Junction (tel 340/693-8699; www.bamboulastjohn.com), is full of color and artisanal flavor, offering art (paintings from Haiti), unique homewares (hand-crafted wood bowls), world music, and African instruments. It also sells clothing, from flirty, sparkly skirts to jaunty straw hats.
Bougainvillea, Mongoose Junction (tel 340/693-7190; www.shoppingstjohn.com), sells a good selection of tropic wear and beachwear for men and women, with such brands as Tommy Bahama, Canovas, Gottex, and La Perla, along with shoes, bags, hats, and sarongs.
Coconut Coast Studios, Frank Bay (tel 800/887-3798 or 340/776-6944; www.coconutcoaststudios.com), is the studio of artist Elaine Estern, who paints colorful Caribbean landscapes, seascapes, and beneath-the-sea-scapes. Her seaside studio is a 5-minute walk along the waterfron from Cruz Bay. Every Wednesday evening from November through April the artist hosts a Sunset Cocktail Party from 5:30 to 7pm.
Donald Schnell Studio, next to the Texaco gas station, Cruz Bay (tel 340/776-6420; www.donaldschnell.com), is the working studio and gallery of Mr. Schnell, who fashions beautiful hand-crafted ceramics: planters, tableware, even fountains. The studio also sells the works of other artisans.
R&I PATTON Goldsmithing, Mongoose Junction (tel 340/776-6548; http://pattongold.com), is the shop of “designer goldsmiths” Rudy and Irene Patton, who have been making and selling jewelry here since 1973. The island provides the jewelers with a wellspring of inspiration; their gold and sterling-silver petroglyph pieces are based on a petroglyph carved on a rock in Reef Bay. They also make molds of sea shells and sealife found on the beach to make earrings, pendants, and charms.
St. John Spice, Cruz Bay (tel 877/693-7046; http://stjohnspice.com), is located right at the ferry dock and up a set of brick stairs. It’s the place to come for all things saucy and spicy, with a fantastic and comprehensive selection of locally made Virgin Islands hot sauces—from Blind Betty’s to Anna’s to Jerome’s—as well as barbecue rubs, signature-blend spices, and Caribbean-made. It’s a great place to stock up on hot sauce gifts to carry back home with you.
Steinworks (tel 340/776-8355; http://sandisteinworks.com), on Coral Bay, is the studio and shop of Sandi Stein, who makes custom-designed jewelry in gold, silver, gemstones, and seaglass.