As my road trip through the West African nation of Ghana continued, I set out to explore Elmina, the largest fishing town in Ghana. Come with me as I visit the most famous fish market in Ghana, eat some waakye, and explore Elmina Castle!
Elmina is also the first European settlement in Ghana and dates back to 1482, when the Portuguese built Elmina Castle. My morning began as Isaac (my guide from Jolinaiko Eco Tours) and I set out to walk through the town.
We crossed the Old Bridge and got a great view looking over the lagoon and all the fishing boats, fishermen, and the market along it.
From the bridge, we could also see a Dutch fort in the distance. I headed down to the market, which was sensory overload. I saw people making banku, which smelled amazing.
There, I met up with Michael from Torchlight Tours. He’s a local who would be showing me around. Most of the activity we saw was the fishmongers selling fish. The fishermen go out overnight and bring back the fish they catch. As we watched, they were preparing for heading out the next day.
They don’t fish on Tuesdays, so this area is a lot quieter then. It’s considered taboo to fish on that day. They sell the fish fresh, but they also salt and preserve some of them. There were tons of different species of fish, as well as shrimp, squid, and even shark!
I personally advise exploring this market with a guide, and being extremely respectful if you come with a camera.
From the market area, we visited the carpentry part of the market where they build the fishing boats. There were also fishermen fixing their nets and removing the scales from the fish they had caught.
Next, we visited the area where the fishmongers smoke and preserve the fish. There, the women smoke them by putting the fish on screens, and stacking the screens in layers over the fire.
I tried a smoked fish. I had to remove the bones, but it was salty and full of flavor. It’s an authentic look at life here in Ghana!
From there, Michael and I continued through the chaotic streets to a coconut vendor. I drank the water and then the vendor cut it up so I could eat the meat! The meat inside was so fresh and filling!
Then, we headed back to the bridge. The activity in the market had died down since it was around 10 a.m. So we headed off to get some waakye (rice with beans), pasta, fish stew, casava flour, and a spicy shito, and eat in a back area in front of a church from 1900.
The dish cam with a very spicy sauce but it was so tasty. I loved the mix of the crunchy casava flour, the dry noodles, and the smooth paste of the shito. The meat of the fish stew added a meaty texture. It only cost 6 cedi ($1.20 USD) each.
Waakye is my favorite dish in Ghana. The fish is so fresh, and the shito was incredible.
After breakfast, we headed back across the Old Bridge and passed through a min9 arket where they sell clothes and shoes. Then, we arrived at Elmina Castle, which looked very similar to Cape Coast Castle.
On the outside are defensive walls and a moat. It’s also known as St. George’s Castle. It was built by the Portuguese in 1482 after their arrival in 1471, but was taken over by the Dutch in 1637. It’s 539 years old and the oldest castle in West Africa.
The city got its name from the huge supply of gold the Portuguese got from the area. They called it “the mine,” or “El Mina.” The storerooms on the ground floor were later converted into dungeons to hold enslaved Africans.
Then, we visited the officer quarters, where you have views over the ocean and the entire town. You can also see the cannons on the ramparts, the fishing market, and the ocean.
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My name is David Hoffmann. For the last 12 years, I have been traveling around the world in search of unique culture, food, and history! Since starting David’s Been Here in 2008, I have traveled to over 1,200 destinations in 82 countries, which I welcome you to check out on my YouTube channel, travel blog, and social media sites.
I focus a great deal on food and historical sites, as you probably have seen! I love to experience the different flavors that each destination has to offer, from casual street food to gourmet restaurant dining. I’m also passionate about learning about the local history and culture.
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