The Cayman Islands may be famous as a duty-free shopping paradise with no local sales tax, but a 20 percent import tax dramatically raises the price of all goods brought in from other countries. British imports can be real bargains, though, thanks to the Cayman Islands status as a British territory.
In George Town, visitors can sample fresh tropical fruit at Thomas Russell Avenue’s Farmers’ Market Cooperative, purchase a Cayman Islands rum cake at the Tortuga Rum Company, or bring home some jewelry made from hard Cayman Brac caymanite stones. Underwater photographs, handmade baskets, and colorful local artwork are other popular souvenirs.
Much of the jewelry found at boutiques is on par with the jewelry sold in the finest shops of Paris, London, or New York City. However, eco-conscious customers should avoid purchasing items made from endangered black coral imported from Central American countries with more lenient protection laws. United States citizens cannot bring back Cuban products, and citizens of many countries cannot bring back any sea turtle products. Raw caymanite also cannot be taken out of the Cayman Islands.
Although the duty-free allowance for United States citizens is incredibly generous, visitors should be sure the prices of the endless luxury items sold in George Town shops are truly cheaper than those found in their own country. Visitors should also double check whether prices are in United States dollars or Cayman Islands dollars to avoid disappointment.