Plaza Bella Terra
In November 2009 Havana's open-air handicraft market moved under the cover of this old shipping warehouse in Av del Puerto. Check your socialist ideals at the door. Herein lies a hive of free-enterprise and (unusually for Cuba) haggling.
On the road to Tides Sugar Beach – Jalousie Plantation, you can’t miss this quirky studio right by the road. You’ll be welcomed by friendly Zaka, who creates lovely wooden masks that are painted in vivid colors. His works embellish a number of hotels on the island.
The island’s grand old department store has well-priced rum and a quality souvenir section. There’s camera supplies and a decent book department, with a wide selection of Caribbean and international literature plus the UK’s Sunday Times. The Balcony Restaurant is a local lunch fave.
A former 18th-century colonial palace turned into a shopping mall! Gathered around a shaded central patio is one-stop shopping for souvenirs, cigars, crafts, musical instruments, CDs, clothing and jewelry at fixed prices. Join the gaggles of tour-bus escapees and fill your bag.
This shop on Parque Colón is stocked with charming high-quality handicrafts, like ceramics, jewelry and handbags, with also a good selection of paintings. Some of the best finds are stocked way in the back of this deep shop, easily one of the best in the Zona Colonial.
Jacmel is a souvenir buyer’s paradise. Its most famous output are the papier-mâché Carnival masks, unique to the town, that you can see being made in the months before the festival. One of the better artisanat -galleries is Moro , although it’s not the cheapest.
The best bookstore in the region stocks everything from charts and survey maps to yachting books, and flora and fauna guides. Browse West Indian, North American and European literature and you’ll even find some long out-of-print tomes just waiting a buyer.
Housed in an enticing Victorian Caribbean mansion nestled amid lush tropical gardens, this working batik studio is a feast for the eyes. Each product (purses, hats, bags, T-shirt, sarongs, wall hangings) is handmade and incorporates tropical motifs.
Located in Pissarro’s boyhood home (a display case outside summarizes the family’s history), the gallery sells a few reproductions of the famous impressionist’s St Thomas scenes, but mostly focuses on works by contemporary artists.
For more of a selection of paintings, other than the ubiquitous cookie-cutter mass-produced ones, stop by the Haitian Caraibes Art Gallery; it also sells interesting crafts, jewelry and typical batiks and sarongs.
Self-caterers can stock up at this full-service supermarket. Beer, wine and cheese are in a separate shop across the hall from the main market’s front door. It’s about a 15-minute walk northeast from the ferry dock.
This small shop several blocks north of Parque Colón has a good selection of premium cigars, but equally importantly, the helpful staff are more than willing to answer the naive questions of cigar novices.
Varadero town's modern subterranean mall in Parque de las 8000 Taquillas is small by American standards, but serves the basics including souvenirs, cigars, a spa/gym and an Infotur office.