Attention all worldly wanderers: If Haiti isn’t on your travel list, you’re doing something wrong. Now, I know what you’re thinking. When it comes to global perception, Haiti admittedly has a…complicated reputation.
For a small island nation, it has seen its fair share of disastrous storms, political turmoil, exploitation of resources, French colonialism, and U.S. invasions, to name a few. But if Haiti is anything, it’s resilient. It’s our job as a generation of young travelers to widen the scope of that narrative to include the amazing, bountiful parts of this country, too.
Port-au-Prince: The capital of the country and the most populous city of Haiti (around 3.7 million, nearly half of the country’s population!) Naturally, that makes Port-au-Prince home to more restaurants, cafes, and art exhibitions than you could ever ask for. Cap-Haitien: The second largest city in Haiti, located along the north coast. It was historically nicknamed “The Paris of the Antilles” because of its wealth and sophistication, architecture and artists. Ooh la la! Jacmel: The perfect place to soak up that Caribbean sun, a plate of delicious fresh fish in one hand and a Prestige (the local beer) in the other. It sits about three hours south of Port-au-Prince over a mountain range. Labadee: Home to the longest water zip-line in the world—aptly named Dragon’s Breath Flight Line—this port has become a major tourist destination. Royal Caribbean leased this land within Cap-Haitien and created Labadee into a kick-ass resort that’s also home to a 300-foot water slide, a beautiful beach front, roller coasters and much more.
Speaking of resorts…
Karibe is located in the center of all the activity in Port-au-Prince, providing you the resort vacation experience, while still giving you the opportunity to explore the island on your own terms. Amenities include a spa, fitness center, business center, meeting rooms, a restaurant, bars, rooftop lounge, and transportation to and from the airport. Kaliko Hotel, an all-inclusive resort located on the waterfront, is the closest beach club to Port-au-Prince. Their amenities include poolside service, transportation, security, Haitian cuisine, unlimited drinks, cabanas with butlers, a newly renovated spa and salon, and various water sports. Cormier is a beachfront resort just a 15-minute drive from the city center of Cap-Haitian. Guests can enjoy a shuttle to and from the airport, complimentary breakfast and dinner each day, and access to the beach bar/lounge, tennis courts, and garden. Hotel Florita is located in Jacmel, one block from the town beach. Amenities and services include a restaurant, tour bookings, and concierge services. Built in 1888, the Florita has also been landmarked by UNESCO.
Or go for Airbnb.
Want to really feel like a local? There are some pretty extraordinary Airbnbs available all over the country.
From studios and single rooms that go for around $20 a night, to flat out majestic, cliffside “guest houses” (with 14 beds!) overlooking the ocean that go for a heftier $359 a night, there are literally hundreds of options.
Eat. Eat everything.
In the words of the late, great Anthony Bourdain, “Walk in someone else’s shoes, or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.” Do not leave Haiti without trying these local delicacies:
Griot: Fried pork
Du Riz Djon Djon: Rice with black mushrooms
Soup Joumou: Pumpkin Soup
Fish on the beach
Picklese: A spicy, cabbage-based condiment
And when you’re not at the beach…
In between stuffing your face and lying belly-up in the sand, you might also want to try a few of these:
Visit the Citadelle and see the fortress where the Haitians low-key defeated Napoleon
Drop by the Palace of Sans Souci envisioned by Henri Christophe and modeled after the Palace of Versailles
For all of Haiti’s tumultuous past, there are so many reasons to put this country at the top of your travel list (seriously, didn’t I give you enough?).
While you shouldn’t go anywhere without knowing the risks (Taco Bell included), the world we live in has seven continents and 195 countries. You really going to just sit on your couch?
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