Rastafarian craftsman


Food and grocery shopping in Tobago is an experience that will either bring extreme frustration or a huge smile to your face. Allow lots of time. Shopping on Tobago is not something that can be hurried. Tobago time operates in a different dimension and "hurrying" is a guaranteed way of raising blood pressure and creating tension.

Forget about hypermarkets and huge department stores. Forget about stock control, laden or logically laid-out shelves. One goes shopping to see what is available, not to buy specific items. Never assume that something that is on the shelf today will be there tomorrow.

Every village has one or more small shops or mini-marts selling basic 'local' supplies. The range of commodities available are minimal and many staples are only available in economy sizes. Be prepared to buy airtight food containers to keep ants at bay.

The main supermarkets are listed on this page and are normally open until 8:30pm Monday to Saturday, and to 1pm on Sunday. They close or operate to limited hours on public holidays. They accept credit card, but require identification, so be sure to take your photo-licence or passport. We are only listing the major supermarkets as these are the most likely to be of interest to visitors. The location of most small supermarkets and minimarts can be found on our main location map.

You will find fruit and vegetable stalls everywhere along the road, even in the very smallest villages. Our favourite places to buy fresh vegetables are Bon Accord Food Basket   and Public Demand Fruit & Veg   , both in Bon Accord. A useful place for fresh and frozen meat straight from the farm is the Golden Grove Farm Shop   . We show the location of a number of small recommended fruit and vegetable shops and stalls on our interacte map and encourage readers to notify us whenever they come across an outlet that could be usefully included on our list.

Those expecting exciting retail therapy are going to be disappointed with their holiday on Tobago. I'm not complaining because this lack of commercialisation is a major part of what draws so many of us back to Tobago time and time again.

Local souvenirs are limited to wood carvings, leather sandals, bags, tams (head covering) and non-precious jewellery, much of which are made by the Rasta community.

While on the beach, there's a good chance that you will be approached by someone selling hand-carved coconuts. These carvings can be very attractive and can often be personalised with your own name. The skill of these craftsmen is undoubted and the chat can often be as entertaining as the carving.

Local rum is cheap and of very high quality. Royal Oak is a popular brand. Please note that civil aviation authorities ban the transport of alcohol where the percentage of alcohol by volume is greater than 70% (140 proof), both in checked and cabin luggage. So, think twice before treating yourself to the 75% Puncheon rum.

There is some really nice batik work available, but very little will have originated locally. There is a useful small batik shop above Penny Savers in Canaan. The stalls at Store Bay can be worth a visit. However, our favourite gift shops are:

  • Shore Things, Lambeau   . An excellent range of souvenirs, crafts and local music plus wonderful cakes, juices and light meals. We always enjoy our visits to Shore Things and meeting up with friendly owner Giselle Beaurn and her team. Open most days until 5:30pm. Telephone: +1(868) 635-1072.
  • Batiki Point, Buccoo   . A small Batik studio and craft shop located opposite the beach facilities in Buccoo Village. The shop is owned and run by Tiina Friman-Louis. She has a nice selection of wall-hangings, wraps, t-shirts, clothes, art and craft designed and made by local artists. They are open daily from 10am to 5pm and on Sundays, during Sunday School, from 7pm until midnight. Telephone: +1(868) 631-0111 or +1(868) 787-4545.
  • Planet Ceramics   . Located near the jetty, within the Pigeon Point Heritage Park,, Pigeon Point Planet Ceramics produce uniquely crafted pottery, made in Tobago. Open Monday to Friday, 12:30pm to 4pm. Telephone: +1(868) 370-1907.
  • Tobago Chocolate Delights, Lambeau   . Wonderful, affordable chocolate delights made entirely from local products. Their slogan of 'Deliciously Decadent' neatly sums up the tasty offerings of the charming local owner, Jean Claude Petit, and the local chocolates he produces by hand. His luscious Coconut Rum Cream would be an ideal present for friends and family. Located next door to Shore Things (same building). Open Monday to Friday, 12:30pm to 4pm. Telephone: +1(868) 370-1907.
  • Forro's Homemade Delicacies, Andrew's Rectory, Bacolet St, Scarborough   . Located opposite the fire station on the road out of up-town Scarborough, towards Bacolet, Eileen Forrester, the wife of the Anglican archdeacon of Trinidad and Tobago, runs a fascinating small kitchen and shop, cooking and bottling local condiments, preserves and sauces. Delicious items such as guava and golden-apple jelly, lemon and lime marmalade, tamarind chutney and hot sauces; all packed in little straw or even bamboo baskets. Prices are very reasonable. Telephone: +1(868) 639-2485.
  • Store Bay Craft Market, Store Bay   . Although something of a tourist trap, the Store Bay Craft Market is well worth a visit. Some 15-20 small kiosks offer a variety of local craft products, many of which would make ideal souvenirs and reminders of your holiday in Tobago. Some items are of excellent quality, but we were very dissapointed to notice conch shells for sale. For the sake of our environment, please do not patronise stalls that sell prohibited items such as corals or conch shells.
  • Nolan Bobb, Buccoo.   . Rastaman Nolan Bobb sells a variety of handcrafted wares at the corner of Buccoo Main Road and Periwinkle Drive in Buccoo (the intersection just before the goat racing stadium)