If you are wondering just what items you should purchase when your in Dominican Republic to take home as a souvenir look no further. There are so many great souvenirs to choose from. The items hand made by the locals are the best. There are many things from other countries for sale in many of the gift shops mixed in with the local items. So if you want true Dominican make sure you look at the label or ask someone.
While in Dominican Republic buy Dominican. Help out the local people and economy instead of the big business and importers. It will do good for the country and also make you feel a little better. It feels so good when you see a hard working person trying to survive by selling an item and you buy what they are selling. It feels so much better than walking into a Walmart type chain store where the service is not personal and the profits go to some big conglomerate. So remember, buy local, you might just enjoy the encounter. Talking and bartering with a Dominican can be an experience within itself. Something you will always remember. A good story to take home with you. Everyone can sit on a beach or go to the mall. Not everyone can say they sat and talked to a little old woman carrying a basket on her head selling something she made with her own hands. Or buying a little necklace from a child in the street that really needs the money to take home to their family.
Much of the items sold here are Haitian made. The colorful paintings you see in the streets and in many gift shops. Many of the carved wooden items are also Haitian. If you want something inexpensive and still having the island flavor these can be a little less expensive and it is still helping the local economy.
The Dominican Faceless dolls are a very popular item bought by tourists and Dominicans alike. The original dolls called Muñecas Limé translated Lime Doll, were created in 1981 by the Dominican artist Lilliana Mera Limé from whom they were named. Lillian said that the dolls were made faceless because all the Dominican people represent a variety of ethnic and racial groups from the world over; each has their own defined personality. This original company is now out of business. Other companies such as Nora, Elisa and Gifina produced a faceless doll made of porcelanicron, these companies are now out of business as well.
The dolls seen in the gift shops today are created by many different companies including Nora, Nathalia and Arte Cron all from Santo Domingo. Candy, made in Santiago. Neoarteand Yedra, a doll made from porcelanicron unlike the others which are made of red clay come from Higuey.
These faceless dolls were made traditionally of red clay but now some could be made of ceramic and other brightly colored clays. These dolls wear traditional outfits some are carrying baskets on their heads, maybe wearing a bonnet. While others are carrying an item, maybe a pot or a bouquet of flowers or an animal. Some are just doing what is typical for a Dominican woman in the country. The thing that makes these dolls stand out is their facial features or lack there off. They have different colors of faces, from white to dark brown, but there is nothing else there.
The tradition of making faceless dolls is generally passed down from generation to generation. Old age, ill health has prevented older generations from producing these dolls and today's generation are just not following in the same footsteps.
Faceless dolls are available for purchase in many gift shops and from street vendors. You can usually bargain for the selling price from smaller gift shops and street vendors. Be prepared to spend a lot more if purchasing them from gift shops in resorts or at the Airport.
Also be careful when selecting a faceless doll, ceramic dolls are much less expensive and look similar to the clay dolls. These ceramic dolls, also produced in the Dominican Republic, are produced in assembly line factories and formed out of moulds. They can be less expensive so it really depends on what you want to purchase.
What could be a better gift than a can or bag of Dominican Coffee? When you take it home after your stay, every time you make it and smell the aroma it will bring you back to our island. This coffee is best made in a Bialleti coffee maker that you can see in most Dominican households. This maker does coffee good and strong, just the way Dominicans like it. Make sure you take enough home for yourself and friends (you can buy single serving packs also) because you don't want to run out. To learn more about this rich,aromatic coffee and to buy some coffee and maker from your computer go to our coffee page
Hint: Coffee can be purchased in almost any gift shop but it will be less expensive if you go to a grocery store or Colmado to make your purchase.
A great place to purchase fresh ground coffee in Colonial Zone is La Cafetería on Calle el Conde.
How about a coin, gold or silver, from the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de la Concepción. These coins can be found in many of the up scale gift-jewelry shops in Dominican Republic. They can be purchased mounted in gold or silver and sold in the form of necklaces, rings and pendants. These Dominican pendants are a piece of true history, expensive, but holding such history.
The Concepción was one of the richest treasure galleons to ever sink. On its fateful trip in 1641, the hold was filled with a very valuable cargo. The fleet sailed into a hurricane with all sinking into the sea, all but the Concepción. It got lost in the torment and thought it was heading to Puerto Rico
but it was heading straight to a barrier reef of the coast of what is now Dominican Republic. On All Souls Day the ship crashed into the reef. While the crew was fighting to escape the ship and the jaws of the sharks in the area, the ship sunk. The surviving crew said that there were mountains of silver and gold that went down with the ship. Later this reef became known as Silver Shoals. Treasure hunters came and went. All ending their search for this ship and its valuable cargo empty handed. Finally, Burt Weber found the ship in 1978. Salvaged from its wreckage were many artifacts of that time and the mythical treasure was found. There were about six thousand coins and a false-bottomed chest holding more than one thousand pieces of eight. The treasure in its entirety was valued by appraisers to be worth about thirteen million dollars.
Note: make sure what you purchase ALWAYS comes with a certificate of authenticity by a named numismatic. You can also purchase replicas that are muc less expensive.
This vanilla has a unique taste. It is sort of thick and very strong. Made here in Dominican Republic it is a very popular item the tourists purchase to take home. If you want to make some authentic bizcochos/ cakes, dulces/ sweets or helados/ ice creams, you must have this to make your Dominican desert correct. It is sold in the light and dark varieties pronounced banejah
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Dominican Republic light and dark vanilla
Turtle Shell Items
Here in the gift shops and in the streets you may encounter many different items made from turtle shells including purses, jewelry, boxes, and even whole turtles. I highly recommend that you DO NOT purchase these items as they are illegal.
The sea turtle is a protected animal and any item made from any part of this animal makes this endangered turtle more vulnerable. There has been a ban on the sale of all turtle crafts and parts but the authorities, up until recently, have ignored it. The Ministry of Environment will be going around the country, especially in the tourist areas and hotels, confiscating the thousands of turtle shell items that are sold to tourists and Dominicans alike. The Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (Widecast) has been working with the Ministry of Environment and are congratulating then for taking firm steps and enforcing the laws to protect these amazing marine animals.