On Grand Cayman the good news is that there's no sales tax and plenty of duty-free merchandise including jewelry, china, crystal, perfumes, and cameras. Savings on luxury goods, though rarely as great as good sales in big cities or at outlet malls in the United States, range between 10% and 25%. Notable exceptions are liquor, which is available minus that tariff only at specially designated shops, and haute couture (though the ritzier resort shops stock some designer labels). "Brand Cayman" is the local nickname for the glamorous shops along Cardinal Avenue, the local answer to New York's Madison Avenue and Beverly Hills's Rodeo Drive. Esteemed names include Waterford and Wedgwood, Cartier, and Cayman's own Bernard K. Passman.
Worthy local items include woven thatch mats and baskets, jewelry made from a marblelike stone called caymanite (from Cayman Brac's cliffs, a striated amalgam of several metals), and authentic sunken treasure often fashioned into jewelry, though the last is never cheap (request a certificate of authenticity if one isn't offered). You'll also find individual artists' ateliers and small, colorful craft shops whose owners often love discussing the old days and traditions. Bear in mind that most major attractions feature extensive and/or intriguing gift shops, whether Boatswain's Beach or the National Gallery.
Local palate pleasers include treats made by the Tortuga Rum Company (both the famed cakes and the actual distilled spirit, including a sublime 12-year-old rum), Cayman Honey, Cayman Taffy, and Cayman Sea Salt (from the eco-friendly "farm" of the same name). Seven Fathoms is the first working distillery actually in Cayman itself, its award-winning rums aged underwater (hence the name). Also seek out such gastronomic goodies as jams, sauces, and vinegars from Hawley Haven and Whistling Duck Farms on the eastern half of the island. Cigar lovers, take note: Some shops carry famed Cuban brands, but you must enjoy them on the island; bringing them back to the United States is illegal.
An almost unbroken line of strip malls runs from George Town through Seven Mile Beach, most of them presenting shopping and dining options galore. The ongoing Camana Bay mega-development already glitters with glam shops, including Island Companies' largest and grandest store offering the hautest name-brand jewelry, watches, and duty-free goods.