We don’t mean to toot our own horns but we Bahamians are an incredibly talented group of people when it comes to artistry and creative expression. Indeed, many forms of traditional crafts such as straw plaiting, woodworking, and costume making are still practiced today and more modern forms of Bahamian art such as photography, mixed media artwork, and jewelry are also on display. While the Nassau Straw Market was once the island’s trusted locale for Bahamian-made crafts, these days you’ll have to spend extra time in the search for souvenirs that are produced locally.
We believe the cornerstone to every Bahamian souvenir is the story of the artisan and entrepreneur that created it. With so much outstanding (yet sometimes not easily accessible) variety among Bahamian-made artwork, we’ve rounded up our favourite local crafts stores, artists studios, and gallery stores for year-round souvenir shopping in Nassau.
Bonus! There are also some great pop-up artisan markets and seasonal festivals that offer a bevy of creative crafts. Namely: Creative Nassau Market held at Pompey Square Downtown on Wednesdays and Fridays; the artist’s pavilion at Festival RumBahamas; International Culture Festival annual event; and The Bahamas National Trust’s Wine & Art Festival and holidayJollification.
Craft Cottage at Doongalik Studios
Credit: Craft Cottage Bahamas
Away from the bustle of Downtown’s Bay Street, but well worth the taxi fare if you are looking for authentic art and crafts, Doongalik Studios was created by the late master of Junkanoo, Jackson Burnside and wife Pam, to promote local culture, art and heritage. The restored historic home displays the work of Bahamian artists and is the centrepiece of three shops on-property, including the Craft Cottage- filled with fun trinkets. Browse through this cheerful store (co-owned by equally cheery gals, Fina and Nadine) to find recycled coconut sculptures, exquisite straw works, children’s toys, goat skin drums, home decor items, and and an amazing selection of fine paintings.
Unique Finds: Handmade dolls; Androsia pillows; Junkanoo replicas; delicate jewelry; shell photo frames
The Plait Lady
Credit: The Plait Lady
Dubbed ‘The Plait Lady’ by Bahamian Out Island artisans when she would travel by mail boat for a buying-trip, Clare Sands’ fascination for straw work began at a very early age. Today, her fulfillment comes from visiting the family islands, purchasing plait directly from the weavers, and creating unique, 100% Bahamian articles, which often make use of five or six different plait designs. If you’re looking for straw work (there are 150 different weaves, by the way), head to The Plait Lady’s festive shop in Atlantis’ Marina Village. Besides beautiful hand-plaited works, you will find signature pink shell Christmas tree ornaments and island-inspired holiday decor year-round.
Unique Finds: Straw plait tote bags, wallets, and clutches; conch shell serving bowls and spoons; hand-painted driftwood signs
Bahama Art & Handicrafts
Credit: Bahama Art & Handicrafts
Carefully curated by mother-daughter duo, Lou and Luciana, Bahama Art & Handicrafts is an art collector’s paradise. Unassumingly situated a few miles outside of Downtown Nassau in a residential area of the island, this boutique specializes in mixed media artworks from local artists who have taken to various mediums such as sea glass, local woods and even fish scales to express their many talents and abilities! Artwork from all over The Bahamas can be found here, beautifully displayed and ready to go home as your uniquely Bahamian souvenir.
Unique Finds: historic photographs; hand-carved wood furniture; pottery and mosaics; fish scale jewelry
Graycliff’s Heritage Village Artists Studios
Credit: Angelika Ardelt
Graycliff, a short uphill walk from Bay Street, has been the first name in lodging and 5-star dining in Nassau since 1973. In more recent years, The Garzaroli family has expanded the property to include a an organic chocolatier (featured on our Bites of Nassau Food Tour of course), a heritage museum, and boutique shopping. Finding authentic souvenirs at Graycliff becomes an immersive experience, especially when you step inside the newly renovated and very brightly coloured (you can’t miss it!) Heritage Village Artists Studios. Each small working studio showcases fine Bahamian artwork and innovation and an opportunity to meet local artisans in person!
Mixed Media at NAGB
Credit: The NAGB Store Mixed Media
At the historic and culturally significant old Bahamian residence, Villa Doyle, overlooking Nassau Harbour, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas recently revamped its gift shop. Appropriately named Mixed Media, this artistic boutique produces beautiful mementos of current exhibits (postcards, prints, and catalogues), and showcases an array of Bahamian talent. In a wide selection of creative merchandise you can find baskets, scarves, quilts, sculptures, candles and soaps. All purchases support the gallery’s exhibitions and national programs- now that’s what we call guilt-free shopping!
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