ST. CROIX

For nearly 50 years, Many Hands Gallery has embraced four tenets that make this Christiansted boutique special — offering items that are handmade by local and international artisans, supporting ethical wages, having a story to tell and embracing historic roots. For customers, that means finding one-of-a-kind pieces, ranging from pottery and sand paintings to jewelry, colorful scarves and T-shirts. In other words, we dare you not to find something that catches your eye. The variety at Many Hands extends to its price points, as well.

It was back in 1964 that designer Sonya Hough first created the St. Croix C-clasp hook bracelet. Turn the C inward towards your heart and it signals that you have a significant other; outward means you don’t. Years later, the hook bracelet remains the unofficial symbol of the island. To get yours, head to the source at Christiansted’s Sonya Ltd. Here, you’ll find the original hook in a variety of shapes and sizes, including earrings, rings, pendants, cuff links and bracelets, crafted in silver and gold. Sonya Ltd. also offers unique collections of other island-centric jewelry.

At Purple Papaya, located in historic downtown Christiansted, you’ll find a wonderful mix of souvenirs, making it a one-stop shop for gift buying. Brightly colored shirts, tie-dyed dresses and a large collection of embroidered T-shirts and sweatshirts share space with wind chimes and kitschy trinkets. Purple Papaya is also a great spot to pick up a few vacation necessities, including towels, sunscreen, underwater cameras and sunglasses.

ST. JOHN

If you’re looking for a unique Caribbean hot sauce or spice mix, odds are you’ll find it at St. John Spice Company, which has been open since 1999. Located in the Cruz Bay Dockside Mall, this shop’s food products include rubs for grilling, coffee, tropical sauces, guava jams, and hot sauces at every level of heat (the colorful illustrated labels give you a hint of what to expect). But St. John Spice Company is more than its moniker. You’ll also find a thoughtful selection of island-focused calendars, T-shirts, glassware and other gifts anyone would be happy to receive.

Like the owner who shares its name, there is much passion to be found at Sloop Jones, a Coral Bay art studio and shop. Specializing in hand-painted wearable art made with all-natural fibers — think 100% cotton and linen — Sloop Jones’ colorful one-of-a-kind clothing is perfect for island living and beyond. Whimsical hand-painted wall art will serve as terrific conversation starters once you’re back home. Sloop Jones makes its location easy to find, with vibrant signs posted along the way.

She’s a gemologist and he’s a hand engraver/jewelry designer. Together, owners Linda and John Dickson fuse their artist backgrounds at Pink Papaya, a Caribbean-style gallery and gift shop. Inside the Cruz Bay yellow-and-pink gingerbread house, you’ll find hand-decorated ceramics, sculptures, home accessories and original art by locals, all of which captures the island spirit and culture. Not surprisingly, jewelry is featured here too, with an emphasis on items you won’t find elsewhere.

ST. THOMAS

With a focus on the easy-breezy surfing lifestyle, Caribbean Surf Co. has become a favorite of the those who hang ten (as well as those who aspire to). With three shops to choose from — in Havensight Mall, on Main Street and in Red Hook — Caribbean Surf Co. makes it easy to access its extensive collections of apparel (swimwear, sandals, hats), accessories (sunglasses, backpacks, surf zinc) and surfboards. At all locations, you’ll find the industry’s top brands, including Billabong, Oakley, Quicksilver, Nixon and Reef. Even the younger set can get in on the surf fun, with a selection of children’s items.

With its location inside Tillett Gardens, an old Danish farm that’s become a hub for local artists and performers, it’s fitting that Mystic Valley VI is a gift shop featuring items that truly express the joys of the island it calls home. Hanging on its brightly colored walls, you’ll find beautiful artwork. Jewelry, with some pieces made from healing stones and crystals, is lovingly displayed. There’s a curated selection of swimwear. And a full smoke shop features pipes, rolling papers, incense and a variety of related accessories.

At family-owned Victorious African Store Plus, all things African have found a welcoming home. Located in Charlotte Amalie, this charming boutique features 100% original custom-made apparel and jewelry in a variety of colorful styles for women, men and children. Unique headwraps, purses and shoes are also sold here. Victorious is well known locally for its active support of various community causes.

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