Bermuda Shopping Planner
Clothing, china, and jewelry in Bermuda are sold at prices similar to those abroad, but because there's no sales tax, you can get good deals, especially on high-end goods. If you see something you like, go ahead and buy it—comparison shopping isn't fruitful on Bermuda, as prices are typically fixed island-wide. In all but a few stores, shoppers leaving the fitting rooms are expected to return unwanted items to the store floor. The island's bounty of craft markets and artists' studios offers a multitude of inexpensive souvenirs, from Bermuda honey to hand-painted pillows. Buyers and sellers don't really bargain, although a vendor may offer a discount if you buy something in bulk.
Shops are generally open Monday to Saturday from 9 to 5 and closed on Sunday, although some shops and supermarkets are open from 1 to 6 on Sunday. From April to October some of the smaller Front Street shops stay open late and on Sunday. The shops in the Clocktower Mall at the Royal Naval Dockyard are usually open from Monday to Saturday 9:30 to 6 (11 to 5 in winter) and Sunday 11 to 5. Some extend their hours around Christmas. Almost all stores close for public holidays.
Hamilton has the greatest concentration of shops in Bermuda, and Front Street is its pièce de résistance. Lined with small, pastel-color buildings, this most fashionable of Bermuda's streets houses sedate department stores and snazzy boutiques, with several small arcades and shopping alleys leading off it. A smart canopy shades the entrance to the 55 Front Street Group, which houses Crisson's. Modern Butterfield Place has galleries and boutiques selling, among other things, Louis Vuitton leather goods. The Emporium, a renovated building with an atrium, has a range of shops, from antiques to souvenirs.
St. George's Water Street, Duke of York Street, Hunters Wharf, Penno's Wharf, and Somers Wharf are the sites of numerous renovated buildings that house branches of Front Street stores, as well as artisans' studios. Historic King's Square offers little more than a couple of T-shirt and souvenir shops.
In the West End, Somerset Village has a few shops, but they hardly merit a special shopping trip. However, the Clocktower Mall, in a historic building at the Royal Naval Dockyard, has a few more shopping opportunities, including branches of Front Street shops and specialty boutiques. The Dockyard is also home to the Craft Market, the Bermuda Arts Centre, and Bermuda Clayworks.
Department stores such as A.S. Cooper & Sons and Gibbons Company are excellent one-stop shopping destinations, but you may have more fun exploring the boutiques on Front and Reid streets and streets branching off them. For crafts, head to the Royal Naval Dockyard, where you can find artisans' studios and a permanent craft market. The town of St. George's has a bit of everything, including lots of small, unique boutiques, where you can find the perfect island outfit or a Bermuda-cedar model of a famous ship.
Small cakes from the Bermuda Rum Cake Company in the Dockyard make popular gifts and cost $14.95 duty-free. Men may want to pick up a pair of real Bermuda shorts, which come in an array of bright colors. They sell for about $45 in department stores. The Outerbridge line of sherry peppers and other sauces is available at grocery stores and souvenir shops. Locals use them to flavor fish chowder. A Bermudian cookbook makes a good accompaniment. An original photograph or painting is a meaningful, if expensive, souvenir. A coffee-table book of Bermudian art is another option. For something really offbeat, head to one of the music stores to take home the island's unique sound—yes, you really can buy a recording of Bermuda's tree frogs chirping through the night. The distinctive high-pitch sound is sure to remind you of your vacation.
Bermuda Customs. It's illegal to export shipwreck artifacts or a Bermuda cedar carving or item of furniture that's more than 50 years old without a special permit from Bermuda Customs. Custom House, 40 Front St., Hamilton, Hamilton Parish, HM12. 441/295–4816; www.customs.gov.bm.