Shopping is limited in Kiribati except in the capital South Tarawa and Kiritimati where you can find more variety. Several supermarket type stores and cooperative stores carry a wide range of consumer goods. In North Tarawa and the Outer Islands you will find only small convenient stores.
Traditional daggers ‘te reeree’, sea-shell necklaces, pure coconut virgin oil, miniature models of canoes and traditional eel traps and houses are very popular souvenirs from Kiribati. The “Mauri Wear” has also become the most popular fashion and gift among women locally and internationally. The Mauri Wear is stylish, sassy and designed beautifully. It suits all occasions – casual, party, work, church. They are produced and tailored locally and can be customized to your own liking. Other typical handicrafts from Kiribati include baskets, mats and fans made from local materials such as pandanus, coconut and sea shells.
The local cuisine offers a taste of tropical island foods with emphasis on fish and other seafood including island crops and fruits. The number of restaurants is limited in Kiribati and most of them are located in the capital South Tarawa. The restaurants serve a variety of Chinese, Western, Japanese, Indian and local cuisines. You can also find food vendors selling prepared food. You can also buy fresh green coconuts, kamaimai (similar to maple syrup), vegetables and local products at these local vendors. There are also bakeries mainly in South Tarawa that sell pastries and cakes.
A typical Kiribati outer island breakfast includes the local cereal which is crated coconut or te kabubu (made from preserved pandanus screwpine fruit) mixed in with tea or te ii-karewe (which is tea mixed with fresh toddy locally known as te karewe which is collected from the sap of a coconut tree in the morning and afternoons. Te karewe or toddy is good source of vitamin C. Visitors can also try pumpkin boiled with coconut cream it is a real delicacy or even try bread buttered with crated coconut and topped with kamaimai or pancakes with crated coconut topped with kamaimai.
Starters – For starters you can try sea noodles (Te iaia) mixed with coconut cream, diced onions and a dash of lime or lemon. Or try local grilled sea sandworms with some coconut. Sea sand worms are collected from the sand flats and they are a delicacy in the Southern Gilbert islands especially in Tabiteuea and Nonouti. The sun dried and smoked sand worms make a good snack.
A typical Kiribati entree or heavy meal would be char grilled or barbeque ‘waro’ or the Kiribati shrimp with rice and coconut. ‘Te waro’ or the mantis shrimp is more meaty and much larger than the king prawn or shrimp and has been considered a delicacy by many visitors who have tried it.
Another Raw fish marinated in a coconut curry sauce. Fish mainly used in this dish are tuna and flying fish. Bonefish patties – meat is from the bonefish which is eventually scrapped off and mixed egg, flour and diced onions and then fried. Char grilled/barbequed or deep fried Paddle Tailed snapper (Ika-ni-bong), flying fish or reef fish. Battered morikoi emperor fish or Sweet lip which really goes along with breadfruit or potato chips. Deep fried breadfruits chips – is the local potato chips of Kiribati which is a substitution for potato chips. Lobster or crayfish is also plentiful on the islands.
For a typical Kiribati dessert you can also try ‘te roro’ with coconut cream topping. ‘Te roro’ is made from ‘te tuwae’ which is extracted from boiled pandanus fruit and dried in sheets under the sun. Te tuwae turns into te roro when it has been soaked in coconut cream and it turns into a sweet caramel chocolaty taste. This delicacy is popular in the Southern Gilbert islands. You can also try some green coconut meat mixed with kamaimai; it is a real treat.
The festivals and events in Kiribati reflect the culture of Kiribati which is not only enriched but boasts of a heritage of almost 2,000 years. The National Day celebrations in Kiribati is the biggest and most celebrated event of the year in commemoration of self-independence from the British Colonial rule on the 12th July 1979. Every year the 12th of July is celebrated throughout Kiribati. The National Day Festival will be celebrated throughout a one week national holiday. Highlights of national event include the colourful parade, Miss Kiribati Pageant, traditional dance club competitions, outrigger sailing canoe racing, game fishing, semis/finals club sports (soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball, touch rugby, table tennis, badminton), wrestling and many more etc. As most of the islanders are Christians, Easter & Christmas are among the Kiribati festivals and events. The Christians celebrate the Easter and the Christmas with much enthusiasm. The islanders of Kiribati are no exception and you can see them enjoying every bit of it with fun. Like all the other festivals and events in Kiribati the people decorate their homes and this is one time when the members of the family join each other for celebration. Another event which deserves special mention among the festivals and events in Kiribati is the Youth Day which is celebrated on August 10th. The young people play a major role in the politics and economy of the country. The government provides full support for all the youth programs and one can find the government taking interest in the betterment of youth. 10th of August is known all over Kiribati as the National Youth Day and one can see a number of important programs on this day where the young people can interact with each other and come up with interesting solutions and ideas about the many problems that plug today’s society.