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One of the pitfalls of a Caribbean vacation — especially if your clients are staying at an all-inclusive resort — is the likelihood that they’ll never interact with a local unless it’s in a service capacity. One of the easiest ways for travelers to circumvent this and meet locals is for them to venture off resort to visit an open-air city market.
These markets offer plenty of opportunities for interaction, as well as provide colorful glimpses of locally sourced fish, fruits and vegetables. In addition to produce, city markets often have stalls featuring artwork by island craftspeople and artists.
- Bartering is usually an accepted practice at these markets. - If a vendor accepts a counteroffer, it’s considered bad form not to carry through with the purchase. - Markets are famous for offering vibrant photo opportunities. - If a vendor is going to be featured in the photo, always ask for permission beforehand; it’s rare that they refuse. - Making a purchase will be much easier if your clients bring along small bills in either dollars or the local currency.
Grenada’s Spice Market Grenada is known as “The Spice Island,” and there’s no better place than the city market to see the panoply of spices grown on the island, as well as the products made from them. Grenada is also famous for its locally made chocolate and rum.
The Spice Market is in St. George's Market Square, and while open every day, the market is at its most colorful on Saturday mornings. There are plenty of food stalls in the market and surrounding area, so travelers should consider dropping in for an island-style breakfast or early lunch. They’ll be sharing the space with lots of locals.
English is the main language in Grenada, making it easy for your clients to bargain and ask questions of the vendors.
Haiti’s Iron MarketHaiti is one of the least visited Caribbean destinations, which is unfortunate because it has a vibrant history and culture. But savvy travelers should head to the Iron Market in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. This large, very active market is packed with a range of produce, crafts and household goods, and the reassuring presence of numerous tourist police.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on Nov 25, 2015 at 5:00pm PST
A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on Nov 25, 2015 at 5:00pm PST
An intriguing aspect of the market is its displays of objects associated with the Vodou religion. These range from Vodou flags to bottles artistically filled with colored sand to form intricate designs. During my visit, the vendors were friendly and laid-back. While the Iron Market was burned down in 2008 and rebuilt, and suffered another fire in 2018, the market is still in operation today.
St. Lucia’s Castries MarketSt. Lucia is blessed with so much natural beauty that it’s sometimes easy to ignore the island’s bustling capital city of Castries. Of major interest in the walkable, coastal city is the Castries Market. There are approximately 300 vendors in the market, and their stalls, small stores and eateries cover several blocks. A traveler with a gift list for friends and family back home could accomplish all their buying here.
Like many markets, the Castries Market is at its liveliest and less picked over in the early morning hours. There are plenty of options for scoring a meal at the market, which amplifies the chance to interact with locals. Bartering is a way of life in the market, so travelers should not hesitate to participate.
The DetailsGrenada Tourism Authoritywww.grenadagrenadines.com
Saint Lucia Tourism Authoritywww.stlucia.org/en