Haiti has some of the most beautiful and unspoiled natural areas that I have ever seen! But due to political and economic unrest and lack of tourist infrastructure, this little country fails to draw in the tourist crowds that its neighbour and island brother, The Dominican Republic does. I hope to change that. If just one person decides to go visit Haiti because of this post, my words will have been well worth their time to write.
My trip to this beautiful country was a complete whirlwind and there still remains so much more for me to see and do…and I intend to see and do it on my next visit!
For now, I have lots of beauty and amazement to share with you to give you some unique ideas for a memorable trip to Haiti! From our home base in the capital of Port-au-Prince, we were easily able to visit some of the best things that Haiti has to offer!
Bassin Bleu is one of Haiti’s most beautiful natural wonders and the trip in itself to get there is an adventure. If you don’t have any Haitian contacts in the country, hiring a Haitian driver is your best option, as the winding roads and scary switch backs through the mountains are not to be taken on by a novice. Getting to the ponds and falls takes about 2-3 hours from Port-au-Prince (depending on the treacherous Port-au-Prince traffic) or 30 min from the southern coast city of Jacmel.
Driving through the mountains gives a unique view of Haitian village life.
Once you arrive at the furthest driving point, one must do some hiking through the mountain side of Haiti to get to the beautiful pools of water. Plenty of local guides are around to help you out and you can give them a 10$ tip to guide you through the paths to the bassins.
It is a bit of a workout but well worth the effort to arrive at this paradise…
The best part of this place is the solitude and serenity. Other than a local 8 year old, we were the only ones swimming in this magnificent fresh water pool. It is a must see, exciting excursion in Haiti!
One of the most beautiful beaches that you can easily reach from Port-au-Prince can be found at the private resort of Wahoo Bay Beach, about an hour drive north of the city. The day price to visit is 15$ American for adults and 5$ for children and the amenities are well worth the entrance fee.
Wahoo Bay Beach is a great place to take a day break from the hustle and bustle of Port-au-Prince.
They have an amazing pool that overlooks the beautiful mountains and a spectacular private beach. A full service restaurant is also on premises and it serves up all the American favourites (hamburgers, hotdogs, caesar salad etc.)
Trampoline and chess are on the grounds as well to keep the kids having fun!
Another beach location in Haiti is located in the south east part of the country around the city of Jacmel. This is a favourite vacation location for locals and expats alike, and there are a few resorts to choose from to keep you busy for a few days.
The Hotel Cyvadier is one of those great places to swim, eat and relax in Jacmel and you can find more information about them right –> HERE!
The Musée du Panthéon National Haitien (MUPANAH) in Port-au-Prince is the place to go to discover the unique history of the country. Built in 1983, this museum goes over the history of the island from western discovery, through the slave trade years and on to modern history. The outside of the building is very pretty and unique with architectural details and water features.
Les Jardins du Mupana is the garden and restaurant that accompanies the museum and let me tell you, it is top notch dining. Let me go ahead and shatter your preconceived notions of what “dining out” can mean in Haiti:
Despite having eaten many meals with Haitians (in both Montreal and Haiti) this was the first time that I had ever seen this “fried Accra stuff” and wow, it was SO good! Turns out it is a very complicated recipe made from grated Malanga root and I found a great recipe for it online! Check it out —> HERE!
The restaurant also has a cute little gift shop offering high end designer souvenirs and gifts.
For more information on this great museum, garden and restaurant, you can check them out on Facebook —> HERE!
Locally Made Crafts and Gifts:
Around most major tourist sites (such as the MUPANAH) and on most resorts, you can find locals selling locally made crafts and souvenirs. I bought two beautiful paintings on this trip from sellers outside of the Museum and I regret not having the time and space to buy more (for my next trip down to Haiti I will definitely be bringing an extra duffel bag to pack away at least 5 beautiful canvases to bring back home)
Another great place to shop is the Mountain Maid store, part of the Baptist Mission which is located on the drive up to the community of Kenscoff (a 10km drive up the mountains, south east of Port-au-Prince, above Pétionville) It has great traditional, artisanal and local made products. Their wood bowls and serving ware are beautiful and their woven baskets are to die for (another thing I wish I had the space for to bring back to Canada.) Of course one of the best reasons to purchase these products is because the proceeds go directly to supporting the livelihood of the Haitians who make them.
The Baptiste Mission also grows its own all natural produce and you can get a taste of some locally made food with an amazing view of the mountainside at the cute little Tea-Terrace restaurant that they have beside the store.
The whole experience is a great way to spend a lovely afternoon in the refreshing mountain air, shopping for authentic Haitian products and tasting some delicious on-site grown food. (I recommend the tea for sure!)
For more information about this store and restaurant, check out their site—> HERE!
- Haitian kreyòl (a french based Creole) and French are Haiti’s official languages; in the major cities and tourist resorts English is widely spoken; in the mountains and villages it is mostly Creole and French so it is useful to know at least a bit of French (if not Creole) to facilitate communication.
- If staying in Port-au-Prince with friends, family or with volunteer groups it is easy to spend a relaxing day at one of the hotel pools in Port-au-Prince or Pétionville without having to stay the night. Many places offer free use of the pool with food purchase or for a small day fee.
- If arriving through the airport in Port-au-Prince you will be required to pay a 10$ American, 10$ Canadian or 10 Euro Fee for entry. The only time on my recent travels that I was happy for the current Canadian dollar exchange rate 😉
- The scariest thing in Haiti, by far, is the driving. Hiring a driver is your best bet to see the best that this little country has to offer!
I really hope that I have inspired you to give Haiti a chance for your next vacation destination; it is a unique pearl in the Caribbean that would love to welcome you!