5 Things To Do While Visiting Haiti!

April 19, 2017

If I told you that there were a plethora of sites to see and wonders to dive into once you landed in Haiti, would you believe me?

Behind the persistent portrayal of a country buried in natural disasters and ecopolitical struggles, lies a once insanely popular jewel of the Caribbean. In the 1970s, Haiti was at the forefront of island tourism. So thriving was this isle’s travel industry, that other islands desperately sought to replicate Haiti’s success. Despite being subjected to an onslaught of setbacks over the years, this tiny nation has plans to make a come back and with good reason too. Pristine beaches, roaring waterfalls and breathtaking vistas are just a blip on the radar of Haiti’s magnificence.  I won’t spoil everything for you by blabbing endlessly about Haiti, but I will give you a reason (plus four) to add Haiti to your future travel plans. So here’s a shortlist of five amazing things to do while traveling in Haiti.

Explore Port-au-Prince. From admiring the hillside homes of Pétion-Ville to haggling your way through Marché de Fer to being gutsy enough to ride around Turgeau in a tap-tap, exploring Port-au-Prince like a local is one of the best ways to get to first base with Haiti.  You’ll quickly learn that this capital city is rich in art, culture, music and food that has an unmistakable creole soul. While my good friend Verdy was kind enough to show me around, I would probably suggest using a local tour company to really dig into Port-au-Prince.  Now it would be sort of remiss of me to not mention the safety factor. Some of the stories that Verdy shared with me were definitely worthy of pause. Port-au-Prince, like any other major city around the world, is not free of its inherent dangers. I arrived just days after Haiti had selected its new president and a skittish kind of energy was still palpable within the country. HOWEVER, I did not experience any violence or mishaps while visiting Haiti. That being said, do as you normally do, keep your wits about you and always be aware of your surroundings.

TIP: Definitely sneak over to Hotel Karibe if you get a chance. If this hotel’s rooftop bar is even a third as lit as its parking lot was….well, I’ll let you figure out the rest!

Eat. Eat. Eat. I’m willing to catch some Sriracha type heat for this one but Haiti, hands down, has some of the best food in the Caribbean. Yeah, I said that. I probably should have prefaced such a bold statement by saying that I was exposed to Haitian cuisine as a young girl growing up in Boston. So when that pikliz hit the tongue and sent my senses ablaze, I was immediately transported back to a time when I would inhale pwason boukannen, patties and dire kole with no regrets. I ate at a little restaurant called Tchaka a few times and was almost never disappointed. Until my last visit. A young waiter told me that they were out of plantain and this African girl almost flipped the table (my hangry is not to be taken lightly). Other than that, come to Haiti ready to feast!

SIDE NOTE: I had to pass on the spaghetti shakes. You read that right the first time. It is quite literally spaghetti that is blended into a shake.  I’m just as adventurous as the next wanderluster but the way my intestines are set up…

Visit Jacmel. With its fading colonial facades, palm tree lined shores and much slower, cooler approach to life, the southern Haitian commune of Jacmel was a much needed serenity infused escape from all the commotion of Port-au-Prince. When I think of Jacmel, vibrant and chill vibes automatically appear in my wistful thoughts . Although visiting the waterfalls at Bassin Bleu is one of the top tourist attractions in Jacmel, I spent an unforgettable evening watching waves crash ashore, swaying to the soft sounds of twoubadou and eating grilled conch under the fluorescent moonlight. It’s just that captivating.

Day Trip to Côte des Arcadins. This was one of my absolute favorite things to do while visiting Haiti. Located approximately fifty miles north of Port-au-Prince is a developing resort side area that’s rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination. I’ll tell show you more about visiting Côte des Arcadins later but please be prepared for the overwhelming sense of FOMO that will consume you when you see these pics!

Cap-Haïtien. I’m throwing in a little curve ball here because I have yet to visit the way way north of Haiti. I was told that Cap-Haïtien, or Cap, was once the richest city in the Caribbean. Historical sites like the Citadelle Laferriere and the ruins of Sans Souci Palace tell the story of a city that, at one point in history, manifested true black Haitian pride. Just writing about this has me contempalting my next Haitian travels.

  Despite their struggles, Haitians appreciate what they do have and boy do they have a lot. I’m not talking GDP here folks. I’m referring to the intangible. Those things that money can’t buy. But don’t take my word for it, get out and experience Haiti for yourself! Hopefully, my small roundup has inspired you to do just that.

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