Why You Need to Visit the Honiara Central Markets
Splashes of colour stretch as far as the eye can see, and interesting smells mingle together as I meander throughout the Honiara Central Market.
It’s a Saturday morning and the market is buzzing with activity. Saturday is the busiest day of the week, and this is the place to be. The clamour inside rises with the sun as more people arrive, and though the markets officially open at 6am, some vendors are still arriving and setting up at 8am. It’s the perfect time to arrive to witness all of the noise, excitement and delicious foods.
Their fruits and vegetables look fresh, but not perfect. They’re the kind you can tell have been lovingly hand grown. Watered when they needed. Weeds kept at bay to ensure the best chance at growing as big as they could be before harvesting.
There’s many I recognise – eggplants, coconuts, tomatoes. But there’s also many I don’t and too many to list. Interesting green fruits that look like limes (but aren’t), and the longest beans I’ve ever seen sit amongst the other produce, lining the long benches dictating the aisles of the market. As you wander through, why not pick up some peanuts, which are sold by the pile, or a fully-fledged meal of rice and fish, to munch on?
It’s a hustle and bustle not seen so much outside the crowded market place. Life in the Solomon Islands is the definition of “Island Time” and things move slowly but steadily. Forget your watch – you won’t need it.
But inside the market it’s different, and there’s always something to look at or see. As you wander down the aisles, some vendors arrange and rearrange their produce to ensure everything is visible, while others spray their vegetables with water to ensure they remain fresh. Nothing has been snap frozen and defrosted here!
The bottom half of the market is made up of the fresh fish, with a particularly unique odour to match. The majority of fish is tuna, and I’m told that the freshest catch of the day appears at around 3pm when the fishing boats which went out at sunrise return to shore.
As I turn the corner, I’m greeted by the sight of piles and piles of coconuts. Coconuts on the ground. Coconuts in coolers ready for drinking. Coconut husks lining the pavement in neat piles from where they have been readied for sale. Endless coconuts. Vendors have varying prices, each one trying to beat out the opposition for the best price amongst a sea of tropical fruits.
But fruits and vegetables aren’t all this market has to offer. There’s local crafts and screen-printing, and my favourite section – the fresh flowers!
The flowers and greenery line the pavement, creating an aisle of sorts for shoppers to walk down to pick their favourites. There are flowers of every colour of the rainbow, and I wish I had a reason to buy some to display during my brief visit. I return to the market at 4:30pm that same Saturday, and the flowers are gone – the only remnants a few petals and scattered leaves. It has clearly been a productive and profitable day, and it’s a nice thought picturing the flowers displayed with pride in homes and hotels across the region.
If you’re ever visiting Honiara, this is the place to be. It’s a place where locals come together from Monday to Saturday to buy and sell and mingle. It’s a place of delicious foods and unique wares. If you want to begin to experience the heart and culture of the Solomon Islands, then a local market is the place to start.