The Solomon Islands offer a wide selection of arts and crafts that makes them a dream destination for collectors. There are lots of high quality craft pieces of ebony, wood carvings, mother of pearl inlay bowls, shell jewellery, walking sticks, baskets, hats, mats and bags made of the local pandanus or coconut palms.
Shopping is a unique experience and is a great way to support the local communities of the Solomon Islands.
Our Solomon Island shopping guide below will provide you with information about shopping in the Solomon Islands, as well as some suggested places to shop. After a long day of shopping, sit down to a nice meal at one of the unique Solomon Island restaurants.
Most craft shops are located in Honiara, but you will be able to buy items directly from craftsmen on other islands as well. There are several daily markets that are held across the Solomons, with the most colourful and lively being the Central Market in Honiara.
The bustling town centre in Honiara is a shaded and lovely area, filled with interesting shops including some for local handicrafts and duty free products, although the range of merchandise is limited. The town centre is where the banks, post office, restaurants, telecom, tourist information and local tour operators are located. Its outdoor markets provide the perfect setting to meet the locals and experience some great Solomon Islands shopping.
At the market, you can be sure to find local produce, including fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, betel nuts and peanuts and other items such as carvings, calico lava-lavas, basket-ware and shells. The locally crafted mother-of-pearl carvings with brown streaks, pandanus baskets, trays and bags, all with intricate detailing, are popular purchases.
There are several vendors selling fruits, vegetables, fish, shell money, and jewellery at the main market located near the wharf from Monday to Sunday. Products are also available at Rove and Kukum, which are close to town. The market at Rove is open on Sundays.
Woodcrafts from the Solomon Islands vary from small domestic things like bowls or combs, to large figures and busts and even items like entire canoes that are decorated with carved hulls with figureheads. One most distinctive figurehead is nguzunguzu (pronounced as 'noozoo noozoo') located in the Western Province. Carved dolphins and sharks from the area are generally made with European tastes in mind, and have excellent workmanship. Sharks are popular figures, as they are perceived to be the reincarnation of successful fishermen. In the west, most carving is done on kerosene wood, which is the local brown streaked wood (Corsia subcordata) or on black ebony, both of which are hardwoods, and are usually inlaid with mother-of-pearl or nautilus shells.
The shell money from Malaita that has been turned into necklaces is an excellent purchase to take back with you. Other handicrafts from Malaita such as combs, rattles, flutes, bamboo lime containers that are used to store betel nut, panpipes and carry bags made from fibre. You’ll have lots to choose from in traditional jewellery, such as earrings, nose rings, headbands, pendants, armbands and breastplates made of shell. Another authentic Solomon Islands souvenir is bone and shell fishhooks.
The people of Guadalcanal are experts at weaving strong and sturdy bags, trays, and baskets made of the local asa vine (Lygodium circinnatum), which are known in the areas as Bukaware. The Polynesians in the Solomon Islands excel at making miniature canoes. Woven pandanus bags from Bellona are popular and are used by the locals. The Santa Ana and Santa Catalina areas in the Makira Province also have lots to offer in terms of handicrafts, especially in their black ceremonial pudding bowls that are inlaid with shell.
The ancient currencies of Malaita are finely crafted and can be used to buy souvenirs since they are still in circulation and are used for traditional ceremonies such as bride price and for reconciliation ceremonies. Temotu has a red feather currency that is still used.
The Solomon Island Dollar (SBD; symbol SI$) equals 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of SI$100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 2. Coins are in denominations of SI$1, 50, 20, 10, 5 cents.
Money can be exchanged at some hotels, bureaux de change, banks, larger shops and restaurants. There are automated foreign exchange machines located in Honiara.
All major international credit and debit cards are accepted in tourist resorts and hotels in Solomon Islands. Honiara has ATM operated by the ANZ and BSP banks at numerous centres. Regional centres have ANZ ATMs and will shortly also be serviced by BSP.
Traveller’s cheques can be changed at banks located in the major towns. The best option is to have traveller’s cheques in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Australian Dollars.
Monday-Friday: 0830-1600 ( varies at different banks)