Guide to Shopping in Puerto Rico
Throughout the Island of Puerto Rico you will find many craft centers that are owned by local artists. Many of them encourage visitors to take a tour of their studios to see how the various traditional arts and crafts are made. Whether you take the tour or not, you will be able to find a wonderful variety of delicate carvings of religious statues and papier-mâché masks for purchase at the various markets in Puerto Rico. These are used during most of the festivals held across the island at different times of the year and can prove to be a most entertaining gift to take back home with you.
Puerto Rico has managed to keep its status of lower import tax and VAT rates duty free. So if you are looking to buy tobacco, wines, spirits, perfumes and maybe some electrical goods, look no further as they are often much cheaper here than in other countries. However you should keep in mind that there is a firm limit to the quantity that you are allowed to export out of Puerto Rico. For instance, spirits are limited to 1 liter, wine is limited to 2 liters and you can only take 50 cigars or 200 cigarettes out the country with you. So although you will find it much cheaper to shop in Puerto Rico you may not be allowed to take everything you buy home with you.
Most Puerto Rican shops and craft markets normally target tourists by selling souvenirs, gifts and pottery. However you will also find markets that provide for local inhabitants around the island, with local farmers, artisans and bakers and tradesmen selling their wares. These may include cheeses and confectionary.
San Juan is actually the island’s shopping mecca, but since it isn’t a free port you won’t find many bargains on items like electronics and perfumes. However you can find excellent prices on jewelry, fashions, crystal and china. Shopping for local crafts can also be satisfying; you’ll find a lot of poorly made items but you can also find beautiful treasures. You are also often able to watch the artists at work. Plaza Las Americas, the island’s largest shopping centre, is also situated here. It is a very modern shopping center that features over 300 stores selling everything imaginable – from pottery and fashion clothing to local cuisine.
Some popular items that you will most probably find on every corner are hand-rolled cigars, Mundillo lace from Aguadilla and fancy men’s shirts known as Guayaberas. Remember to try the homegrown coffee (robust) and the island’s local rum, which is considered by many to be the best in the world.
You may find it hard to resist all the colorful strange articles that are up for sale here in Puerto Rico, so pack in a little extra cash and spend some time shopping in Puerto Rico.