Walk along the many candy-coloured streets and you’ll discover parish after parish filled with amazing finds. Locals enjoy off-island shopping during their trips to Europe or North America, but that doesn’t mean that their home isle doesn’t have amazing shopping readily available. And for the visitor to Bermuda looking for some retail therapy, there’s a very unique and rewarding shopping experience to be had right here within the island’s 21 square miles.
Temptations range from big-ticket, sales tax–free jewellery items (Rolex, TAG or Cartier watches; David Yurman and Hearts On Fire fashion pieces; and the like) to Bermudiana collectibles, beautiful artwork created by local talents and designer duds with that certain island ease and elegance.
There are several destination-shopping districts across the archipelago — Hamilton, St. George’s and Royal Naval Dockyard, most notably. But wherever you go, you can expect Bermuda’s shopping scene to be grounded with an emphasis on quality of the products over quantity of choice. Whichever purchases capture your interest here, you can rest assured that they’re likely to be of the long-lasting variety.
Hamilton’s Shopping Haven
Make your first stop at the bull’s-eye of Bermuda’s retail scene: the areas on and around Front Street and Reid Street in Hamilton, where a relaxing waterfront location sets the backdrop for casual shopping for quality items. Long-established jewellery stores sell everything from high-end watches, charms and jewellery made from coins recovered from shipwrecks to diamond engagement rings and baubles made from the island’s famous pink coral and sands. Crisson Jewellers, which opened in 1922, is the island’s long-standing and best-known purveyor; but you can hunt for tax-free bargains at many other jewellery shops in the streets of downtown Hamilton.
Most shoppers have on their short list an authentic pair of the island’s iconic Bermuda shorts, and there’s no lack of options at A.S. Cooper Man, where you can choose from the classic khaki variety or livelier Bermudas embroidered with sea creatures. They carry shorts from TABS (The Authentic Bermuda Shorts), which are designed by local Bermudian Rebecca Hanson and boast all manner of colours and designs. For more fashion finds, check out 27th Century Boutique and Perry Footwear & Collections.
But by no means should you limit your Hamilton shopping to shorts and jewellery. Over the course of a good hour spent window shopping in town, you’ll find yourself drooling over such diverse items as pretty leather travel cases, Irish linens and Scottish tartans as well as Wedgwood plates and Baccarat crystal, gourmet chef accessories and, for the sports fans, authentic English football and rugby jerseys. It’s worth a spin through the Washington Mall, a favourite shopping destination for locals, then exiting through the pretty pedestrian arcade onto Reid Street, where the packed storefronts tout many international brands you’ll recognise, as well as others sure to be delightful new discoveries.
With a quaint Old World atmosphere and streets with more pedestrian traffic than that of the two- or four-wheeled variety, Royal Naval Dockyard on Bermuda’s West End makes for a particularly pleasant place to part with your U.S. or Bermudian dollars inside a range of cool boutiques, galleries and souvenir shops.
Start things off at Clocktower Mall, a historic brick building built in 1856 as a warehouse for the Royal Navy that now abounds with an interesting array of shops open seven days a week and spread across the building’s easy-access ground floor. You’ll feel whisked away to an exotic Arabian souk at the boutique called Grand Bazaar, where the owner sources much of his colourful inventory (evil eye jewellery, backgammon boards, beautiful brass lanterns) from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar in Turkey. Dockyard Linens & Gifts in the mall has a lovely selection of tea towels, tablecloths and other high-quality Bermuda-themed domestic accessories to take back home. And hit the eclectic Bermuda Triangle Shop for fun gifts such as shell jewellery, Bermuda Christmas ornaments, miniature cottages celebrating the island’s charming architecture and wind chimes. Stop for a free sample from the Bermuda Fudge Co. and you’ll be tempted to bring a box home (another quick and easy gift).
And there’s plenty of bling to tempt you at Clocktower Mall, too, at fine jewellery purveyors like E.R. Aubrey Jewellers Limited and Crisson Jewellers. All that’s just the tip of the iceberg at Clocktower, where the list of things to purchase continues with carved Bermuda cedar boxes and candlesticks, beach cover-ups, Cuban cigars, Bermuda honey, bath salts and candles, and even kids’ books about island life. If it’s quality souvenirs and collectibles you seek, you’ll surely find them here.
There’s more shopping just a few steps away from the mall, too, across from the National Museum of Bermuda at The Bermuda Craft Market, where the handiwork of island crafters is on display in an airy high-ceilinged space. Island-inspired foodstuffs for sale here include Bermuda rum cakes, pepper jams and hot sauces. And vendors — many with their hands busy right there in front of you, creating things at their stalls — sell everything from wire jewellery and sea glass art to Bermuda’s iconic banana leaf dolls and ceramic pieces painted with Bermuda’s unique flora. And if it’s fine art you’re after, you’ll want to visit The Bermuda Arts Centre and Dockyard Glassworks Glass Gallery & Working Studio.
Treasure in St. George’s
Is it any surprise that Bermuda’s oldest established town and original capital is the place to shop in small, independent boutiques rather than the big international luxury outposts of Hamilton? Whilst many of Hamilton’s Front Street purveyors have storefronts in St. George’s, the shopping experience here feels somehow more manageable, better edited and easier to navigate. It’s perfect for dabblers, in other words.
Just strolling the cobbled streets of the Town of St. George combines historic sightseeing with window shopping. And the more relaxed browser who isn’t exactly sure what they’re looking for (but knows it when they see it!) is very likely to find a memorable purchase in a St. George’s store. King’s Square, the town’s main gathering spot, and the façades along nearby Somers’ Wharf and Water Street and surrounding alleys are the place to head for unique items such as jewel-encrusted sandals, made-in-Bermuda perfumes inspired by a fragrance lost in a 19th-century shipwreck off the island, and sculptures and landscape paintings by some of the island’s most talented artists.
Shoppers, start your engines! Retail therapy was perhaps never quite so scenic and fun.