Haiti Travel Guide

Haiti Holidays – Tours & Adventure Travel Guide

PureTravel Says
“Sharing a common border with the Dominican Republic, Haiti is situated on the western region of the Hispaniola Island. As the only nation that saw a successful slave uprising during the colonial era, Haiti has identified itself closer to its African heritage more than the rest of the Caribbean islands. However, faced with an image problem, Haiti is one of the least frequented islands of the Caribbean Archipelago. Tales of coup d’état, tinged with images of Voodoo sacrifices has definitely played on even the most unimaginative minds. Being a country with an unstable political system and the target of negative media attention certainty does not help to boost its international image. The Haitians by general, anxious to dispel the negative image that has plagued this proud nation, are abundant with their welcome and warmth to any of their visitors. Nevertheless, as Haiti slowly marches towards political maturity and stability, a visit now to this mystical tropical paradise might prove to be the right time.”

Haiti Holiday Highlights

History & Culture – The history of Haiti is no different from most of the islands in the Caribbean region. It is a history of suffering and enslavement by the Spanish and other European nations during the 17th century. The Taino Amerindians initially populated the island of Hispaniola. With the discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Spanish later decimated the native population. After ceding the territory to the French in 1687, Haiti flourished and later became famous as the "Pearl of the Antilles”. It was during this period that the African slaves were brought to toil on the coffee and sugarcane plantations. With the revolt of the slaves in 1804, Haiti became the first black republic.

The revolt of the slaves also set the imprint of the cultural heritage of Haiti today. The African roots of the former salves have resulted in the evolution of a culture unique to the Caribbean region. The most evident of this influence is the Shamanic rituals of Voodoo. The music and the artworks of the Haitian are also depictions of this heritage.

Sightseeing in Port-au-Prince - The capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince has many facades. Yet there is no denying the fact the place is chaotic, exciting and in some cases, exhilarating as well. Places of interest in this city include:

  • Iron Market
  • St. Trinity - A Cathedral with paintings and murals of the local voodoo and the Catholic belief.
  • The Museum of Haitian Art - Reflects the essence and soul of this enchanting and mesmerizing country.
  • The Hotel Oloffson - A quaint inn in central Port-au-Prince. The 19th century mansion was a residence for the influential Sam family and two former presidents of Haiti.
  • Cathedral de Port-au-Prince -Well-known because of its huge architectural interest.
  • Musée Nationale - Showcase many ancient artifact of significant interest.
  • Jane Barbancourt Rum Distillery - Guided tours showing and educating visitors the process of fermenting and distilling rum.
  • Petionville - A key tourist hub in Haiti. The energetic nightlife of this area makes the place come alive.
  • Plaine du Cul de Sac
  • Musee de Guahaba
  • Other Sightseeing
    • Citadelle - Located In Northern Haiti, Citadelle posses a truly magnificent fortress atop the tropical mountains. The Citadelle Laferrière a large mountaintop fortress was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 together with the Sans-Souci Palace.
    • Cap-Haïtien - In the laid-back Cap-Haïtien, beyond the tranquil ambiance and the beaches around Plage Labadie, there isn’t anything much to do.
    • Jacmel - Located in southern Haiti, Jacmel is the country’s handicrafts center and is host to the best Carnival parades in Haiti. Jacmel’s attraction is also due to its old town center, filled with mansions and merchants’ warehouses with a late-Victorian splendor. It is also the birthplace of two influential creative personalities, the artist Préfète Duffaut and the novelist René Dépestre.
    • Les Cayes - Here visitors can enjoy a selection of activities like hiking, horse riding, sunbathing, swimming and water sports. The local music scene and cuisine is also another highlight of this place.
    Nature & Wildlife
    • Bassin Zim waterfall in Haiti - An attractive spring fed waterfall, located in the center of the Plateau Central, Haiti near Hinche and Nan Papaye Haiti.
    • Labadie - A piece of land on the remote Pointe Ste. Honore nearby Cape Haitien. This place is the perfect location for snorkeling, swimming, and nature hikes.
    • Water Sports – The Kyona and Ibo beaches are the best spots for snorkeling swimming, spear fishing, and sailing. The boomba racing in dugout canoes and water-skiing are also popular water activities here.
    • Scuba Diving & Snorkeling - At Amani, near St Marc, divers explore the Zombie Hole, a 200m-deep hole habitat to what is alleged to the Elephant's Ear, the world's largest sea sponge. Near La Gonve, is also a spectacular wall covered with black coral. This spot is also a popular fishing site.

    When To Go

    Haiti has a good year round tropical climate and the Haitian climate is only subjected to mild changes in the seasons. In addition, hotel rates do not vary much throughout the year. Temperatures are generally warm and pleasant. Nevertheless, with the hurricane season during the months of August and September, the weather can be slightly wetter. The Carnival is celebrated during the month of February, thus you are recommended to book in advance to avoid any disappointment.

    Top Tips

    • The capital, Port-au-Prince, is a lot more peaceful than the scare stories. Then again, street crime does exist as in any places in the world. So don’t show off or keep your money in your back pocket.
    • Be careful and try to avoid venturing out after dark even in places like Champs de mars.
    • Stay away from the shantytowns like Cité Soleil and Cité Liberté.

    Classic Itineraries

    - One Week - Stay two days in Port-au-Prince and two days in Jacmel before flying north to visit the Citadelle.
    - Two Weeks - Follow the itinerary for one week in a more leisurely pace and include Parc National La Visite and the beaches near Cap-Haïtien, Côte des Arcadins or Île-à-Vache.
    - Your Haiti vacations can also be combined with Jamaica holidays.

    Caribbean Geography

    The country of Haiti makes up part of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean, which is one of the three island groups. The Greater Antilles group is made up of Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, which is Haiti and Dominican Republic and in fact the Greater Antilles accounts for around ninety percent of the total land in the whole of the West Indies.

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