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With Jamaica’s lazy sunshine, clear blue waters and glistening sands you’ll be tempted to spend your vacation soaking up the sun. Resist! The marvellous sports and activities widely available will certainly inspire you to get up and see the sights. If you love shopping and searching for unusual gift ideas then Jamaica is the place for you.

There are two main types of shopping available to the tourist. These are duty-free imported goods and local craft/art items. Both are found in most tourist places on the island.

Duty-Free Goods
Before you go searching for your favourite perfume or alcohol, the best tip anyone can give you is to make sure you know the prices back home first. Items that seem like bargains in Jamaica can turn out to be more expensive, just as others can be cheaper. The usual array of Scottish cashmeres, French perfumes, Swiss watches, Japanese cameras and most liquors can all be found. You can carry anything you buy away with you from art to those classified as ‘consumables’ i.e. alcohol, tobbacco etc. These will be delivered to your exit port (or airport) on your departure. The system rarely fails and is very reliable.

Arts and Crafts
Kingston is the best place to find stall markets and roadside shops – try the Straw or Craft Market by Harbough Street. Other good places are the St James’ Market in Montego Bay and craft markets in Ocho Rios and Porto Antonio. Crafts can be found in abundance and also sea shells and starfish are quite a bargain. Straw goods, embroidered linen, carvings and handcrafted jewelry are very popular. Prices in the smaller boutiques (where you are not expected to haggle) aren’t the cheapest in the Caribbean. Stalls at the roadside (which are open to bargaining) are more reasonable). Rastafarian carvings are thought to be of a very high standard, especially those carved from lignum vitae, beautiful heavy rosewood. Before you commit to buying an object make sure that you can carry it home (back to your hotel and on the flight home).

Fashionable resort wear for both sexes is available. Colourful, vibrant clothes and patterns are always used and are unmistakable of the Caribbean culture.

Jamaican gemstones such as coral are often made into jewelry. Note the gathering and selling of black coral is illegal.

Many lotions and perfumes arrive from tropical flowers or based on bay rum or lime are available and make attractive gifts.

Before you take the journey home make sure that you pack your gifts carefully. If they aren’t too bulky and are in danger of breaking, many pack them in their shopping bags and take them onto the plane with your hand luggage.