Chat with local vendors and shop for handicrafts and Bahamian souvenirs at this bustling market.
Nassau’s Straw Market is one of the largest of its kind in the world and a long-time favorite of cruise ship passengers. Up to 500 vendors sell a diverse selection of items, ranging from handmade crafts to souvenir T-shirts. Negotiate for bargains as you browse the straw items and soak up the busy atmosphere.
The original market was severely damaged during a fire in 2001, leaving the vendors to begin operating out of a tarp-covered structure. The market continued to take place in this temporary structure until 2011, when it was flooded by Hurricane Irene. In late 2011, the market moved to a new two-story building, designed to withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour). Visit today’s vendors selling their wares in a 37,000-square-foot (3,400-square-meter) modern air-conditioned building.
Straw weaving is a long-standing Bahamian tradition, a meticulous and intricate process, originally used to craft baskets for carrying fruit and fish. Various islands throughout the region developed distinct styles of plaiting over the years. North Americans began visiting the Bahamas after the end of World War II and brought with them a demand for straw craft souvenirs. Almost anything can be woven into straw by a skilled weaver. Look around the stalls to see a variety of items including bags, hats, mats and dolls.
In addition to straw items, you’ll find other unique island souvenirs, such as carvings and jewelry made from conch shells and coconuts. The market also sells a variety of souvenir beachwear and other knick-knacks. Prices on all items are negotiable and vendors will often start by offering a high price. Don’t be afraid to haggle if you see something you like. Like the rest of Nassau, the Straw Market offers duty-free shopping.
The Straw Market is located on Bay Street in downtown Nassau. Bring some cash, either U.S. dollars or Bahamian dollars, because few vendors will accept anything else. The market is open daily and the hours vary by stall. Visit in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid large midday crowds.