I learned pretty quickly that the souvenirs populating Atlantis are, for the most part, not any that you really want. We’re talking key chains and shot glasses here, kitschy stuff that doesn’t really represent your experience. Plus, it’s expensive (because everything at Atlantis is expensive). Just like you have to leave Paradise Island for real food, you also have to leave it for real mementos.
The Straw Market is located in downtown Nassau. It’s a (suffocatingly hot) collection of little stalls with basically a roof (which used to be made of straw, hence the name). There are a few tricks when going to the Straw Market, which I didn’t know during my first visit:
- Don’t stop at the outside shops. The owners have to pay extra to get a location around the outside, so their merchandise, which is reasonable for Atlantis standards, is overpriced to Straw Market standards.
- Be prepared to haggle. Haggling is a thing in a lot of these little tourist countries, but not second nature to those of us who hail from countries where we do most of our shopping in Target and American Eagle. But here it’s expected, so don’t be afraid to argue about the price.
- Be Deaf. I’m one of those people who enjoy browsing in peace. I don’t like an employee in a store hovering over me and constantly asking me if I need anything. The Straw Market is like that one really annoying (or bored employee) times 1,000. Everybody wants your attention; they’re super aggressive, so you have to be able to just walk through the clamor deaf and dumb (or possess the magical ability to gently turn them down). Be prepared to be harassed. Just remember that the economic situation in the Bahamas is bleak, so these people are doing what they can to survive.
- Get to the Middle. If you can plow your way through to the middle of the Straw Market in the center of the building—and survive the hot humidity—then you can get the best deals. Plus, they have pretty fantastic jewelry there.
Moral of the Story: Leave the China-made souvenirs alone and opt for the Bahamian-made ones.