AOL Travel
Print

Best Kingston Shopping

AOL PICK from our Editors
Kingston shopping options make it easy to rack up numbers on your credit card of choice. If you’re staying in New Kingston, there are plenty of high-end shops, fashionable boutiques and American-style malls. If you’re in search of authentic Jamaican crafts and artwork, you’ll find stores solely dedicated to promoting the island’s culture. Reggae fans better take an extra suitcase—Kingston’s shops have everything from this week’s hit to collectors' items. There are also outdoor markets crammed with vendors—such as Coronation Market—where you never know what you’ll find. Bring a camera; even if you don’t buy anything you’re sure to come back with colorful pictures of nitty-gritty Kingston life, although if photographing in the market, offer the vendors a few coins as a sign of appreciation. You’ll find souvenirs everywhere, and if you’ve missed picking up a few gifts during your days in Kingston, there are plenty of shops in the airport where you can make last-minute purchases. Don’t forget to bring home the island’s spices, rums, hot sauces and island cookbooks, so you can re-create your Jamaica sojourn once you’re back home.

Bookland

Neighborhood: New Kingston
One of the joys of traveling is reading books that take place in the destination you’re visiting. For Jamaica travel, Bookland in Kingston is the place to go for local authors and guidebooks, as well as international favorites ranging from this week’s best-seller to evergreen classics. The company’s flagship store Bookland in New Kingston has two floors of shelves crammed with a wide range of fiction and non-fiction. The store is open Monday to Saturday from 9AM to 6PM and on Saturday from 10AM to 5PM. There’s free parking in lots on nearby St. Lucia Avenue.  Before you touch down in Kingston, check out Bookland’s Facebook page—your visit might coincide with an intriguing book signing or children’s event. Events are free and open to the public.

More Details on

Bookland  

Swiss Stores

Neighborhood: New Kingston
We're guessing that you aren't coming to Jamaica to shop for watches, but you might reconsider after you visit Swiss Stores. Located in the Kingston Mall Plaza, the shop specializes in sleek Rolex watches. Back in 1935, Swiss-born merchant Rudolf Wäckerlin made Jamaica’s first Rolex watch sale to Henry Lopez of Abbey Court Great House. The deed was done at Wäckerlin’s newly-opened watch and jewelry store he’d christened Swiss Stores. More than seven decades later, Swiss Stores is still under Swiss management and continues to be the only official Rolex retailer in Jamaica. They also sell Omega, Tudor, Victorinox Swiss Army, Hamilton, Tissot, Alfex, Thomas Sabo, Rochet and Caran d’Ache. The store is open Monday to Saturday from 9:30AM to 6PM and closed on Sunday.

More Details on

Swiss Stores  

Carby's Souvenir Discount Centre and Craft Village

Neighborhood: Half Way Tree
If you have a big and varied gift list for the folks back home, this is the place to go for your Jamaica vacation shopping. You’ll find tons of Jamaican souvenirs at good prices, from little tchotchkes, like key chains and beaded bracelets, to prime Blue Mountain coffee and quality wood carvings. If you buy three items in the same category (for example, three bracelets) you’ll get a 15% discount. Try not to be in too much of a rush, there are hundreds of items to browse and, thanks to the friendly staff, the experience is mellow and enjoyable. Carby's Souvenir Discount Centre and Craft Village has two companion shops in the Twin Gates Plaza. Closed on Sunday. 

More Details on

Carby's Souvenir Discount Centre and Craft Village  

Coronation Market

Neighborhood: Downtown
Kingston shopping warriors, Jamaica treasure hunters and true bargain seekers will move heaven and earth to find that unique item they just have to have, and Coronation Market is just the place for the hunt. If the above description fits you, head west of Downtown Kingston to Coronation Market, the largest and busiest outdoor market on the island. In an area known as the Parade, vendors set up shop inside and outside the market and on the streets surrounding it. Browse among gungu peas, dasheen, breadfruit, local honey, coffee, homemade soaps and healing herbs. But it’s not just produce on sale. You’ll also find stall after stall stocked with everything from tools to sound-system speakers. If you want to get into the swing of bargaining, brush up on a few key phrases of the local patois dialect so you can communicate with the vendors (ask the concierge of your hotel for phrases and tips). While the market was gutted by a fire in May, renovations are under way, financed by Digicel to the tune of $1 million. This effort coincides with the cell phone provider’s decision to build its new headquarters nearby on the waterfront. The market's proximity to the volatile Tivoli Gardens district means that you'll need to choose your friends carefully and hire a guide to go with you. It is not recommended to wander west of the market without a guide.

Wassi Art

Neighborhood: Half Way Tree
If you’re in Kingston for any amount of time at all, you’ll probably be stopping by the historic Devon House. The Wassi Art gallery at Devon House displays and sells some of the best Jamaica-focused art on the island. The name “Wassi” comes from an old Jamaica dialect word meaning “terrific, stinging like a wasp.” The gallery opened in 1990 and over the years has flourished to become a collective of around 40 of the island’s most celebrated artists and artisans. Art pieces run toward the useful, such as plates, platters, jugs, mugs, candleholders, goblets, bowls and vases.  You’ll also find a selection of wood carvings, as well as unique pottery pieces made in Wassi Art’s studio in Ocho Rios. You’ll be in good company; celebrity shoppers at Wassi include Kofi Annan, Shari Belafonte, Bryan Adams and Jesse Jackson. 

More Details on

Wassi Art  

Things Jamaican

Neighborhood: New Kingston
Shopping in Kingston for some odd little finds? Things Jamaican makes it easy to pack your suitcase with the unforgettable spices and sauces that go into a Jamaican meal. Here you’ll find coffee, liquor, jerk spices and chutneys, including the world-famous Busha Brown’s brand, as well as island-style cookbooks. But it’s not just foodstuff at Things Jamaican; they also have an assortment of woodcarvings, ceramics, paintings and crafts. Buying the locally-made products at Things Jamaican supports hundreds of craftspeople in the Kingston area who produce items expressly for the store. We love the hand-woven baskets and women's handbags made of tree bark, known locally as “old lady bags.” If you're running short of time in Kingston, don't worry, Things Jamaican also has a shop at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport for that last-minute gift.
ADVERTISEMENT